Both Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace allowed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to justify the Iraq war by falsely suggesting that the 9-11 Commission report supports her claim that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had "contacts" with Al Qaeda before the U.S.-led invasion of that country in March 2003. Also, after Rice said she couldn't think of any specific "failures" in the Bush administration's fight against terrorism when asked by Wallace to identify one, Wallace failed to press her on the fact that Osama bin Laden is still at large and his trail has reportedly gone "stone cold."
On Fox News Sunday, William Kristol attacked Democrats for "turn[ing] every event, including now the fifth anniversary of 9-11, into a partisan fight," and claimed that it is "a totally false charge that [President Bush] has played the politics of fear." Kristol also claimed that Bush "has never said a word about the Clinton administration. He has never tried to blame past [national security] failures on them."
Fox News anchors and commentators seized upon a Washington Post editorial falsely asserting that the revelation that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the original source for syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak's column exposing CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity disproved the notion of a coordinated effort within the White House to discredit former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, using the occasion to repeat a host of false claims about the CIA leak case.
Media outlets have uncritically reported the comments of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who, during interviews, have asserted that U.S. laws on detaining suspected terrorists should be modeled after British laws that allow the United Kingdom to detain a suspected terrorist for up to 28 days without charges. However, none of the media outlets noted the administration's expanded use of material witness warrants to detain people for indefinite periods.
In the wake of Ned Lamont's victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman and the news that British authorities had arrested several suspects in the foiled British terror plot, a number of media figures have linked the Iraq war with the effort to combat terrorism -- echoing the Republican talking point that Iraq is the "central front" in the fight against terrorism.
On the heels of several conservative media outlets cropping a quote from Rep. John Dingell to suggest that he had refused to condemn Hezbollah's actions in the ongoing conflict with Israel, Newt Gingrich announced on Fox News Sunday that Dingell had said "there's no moral difference" between Hezbollah and Israel.
Brit Hume failed to challenge L. Paul Bremer's claim that the United States "had enough troops" in Baghdad following the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003 to prevent widespread looting, but that U.S. forces "didn't have orders to stop the looting." In October 2004, Bremer had asserted that the United States "never had enough troops on the ground" to stop the looting, and that "it would have been helpful to have had more troops ... to stop the looting."
Numerous conservative pundits offered highly optimistic predictions about the U.S. invasion of Iraq regarding the conflict's duration, difficulty, and human and financial costs -- nearly all of which have proven to be wrong. But rather than hold these "Pollyanna pundits" accountable for their past misjudgments, the media have again provided a platform for their views about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. And echoing their rhetoric on Iraq, these conservative pundits have advocated further military action by the United States and its allies.
On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume failed to challenge House Speaker Dennis Hastert's assertion that the "disruptive" "foreign influence" in Iraq is "getting shut down." In fact, a Congressional Research Service report found that foreign influence -- political, economic, and military -- in Iraq, particularly by Iran, remains considerable and is not likely to subside in the near future.
On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume used the pronoun "we" in reference to the Republican-led House of Representatives, which recently passed a bill to cut the estate tax. Hume said: "We've passed" a measure that would eliminate the tax "for nearly everybody," but that the measure is "stuck in the Senate."
On Fox News, NPR correspondent Mara Liasson said the Democratic Party is "divided" and has "no position" on whether to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, apparently basing her conclusion on the opposition of most Democratic senators to an amendment setting a date for withdrawal. But a strong majority of Senate Democrats voted for a separate amendment calling for a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq beginning sometime this year.
A Media Matters analysis of the media coverage of the Iraq war debate shows that the favored Republican talking points on Iraq have gone largely unchallenged in the media and have even been adopted as truths by some media outlets and figures.
Numerous conservative commentators joined the Bush administration in arguing that, in detailing a secret Treasury Department program designed to monitor terrorists' international financial transactions, a June 23 New York Times article tipped off terrorists to the U.S. government's ability to track their financial activities -- some going so far as to accuse the newspaper of treason. But the Times report was hardly the first indication of U.S. efforts to monitor terrorists' financial transactions: President Bush himself repeatedly touted the government's capability to track and shut down terrorists' international financial networks.
Numerous conservative media figures have lashed out at The New York Times and its executive editor, Bill Keller, over an article describing a secret Bush administration program designed to monitor international financial transactions, arguing that the publication of the article was a treasonous act and suggesting that the newspaper is "sid[ing] with al Qaeda" and "aiding and abetting the terrorist movement."
On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume derided The New York Times' justification for revealing a Bush administration program that monitors international financial transactions. Responding to the notion that it is "a matter of public interest," Hume said: "Well, that can apply to almost anything. ... That applies to ball scores. And you know, I mean, women with their breasts exposed are a matter of public interest to some people."