Referring to Rep. John Murtha's recent statements on President Bush's troop increase strategy in Iraq, Sean Hannity asserted that "Democrats are going to have an even harder time trying to win the White House on a blame-Bush and the Republicans platform now that their loudest critic has gone to the other side." However, Murtha's comments did not indicate that he "has gone to the other side." Rather, Murtha said: "I think the surge is working, I think -- but that's only one element. ... But the thing that has to happen, the Iraqis have to do this themselves." In a November 30 statement, Murtha also reiterated his support for withdrawing troops from Iraq.
On Meet the Press, NBC News' David Gregory failed to rebut or question Sen. John McCain on several assertions he made on the show regarding Iraq, terrorism, and the Connecticut Senate race that were either false or open to challenge.
Fox News' Sean Hannity falsely claimed that President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said they believe that in 18 months, "the new [Iraqi] prime minister [Nuri Kamal al-Maliki] will have security forces capable of taking control of all Iraqi provinces." But neither Bush nor Blair made such a statement. Responding to a reporter's question about whether it is "realistic to think that Iraqi forces will be able to take control of all Iraq by the end of next year," Bush did not address the issue, while Blair merely said it is "possible."
Fox News' Brit Hume selectively quoted from a memo written by retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, telling viewers that McCaffrey, who has criticized Donald Rumsfeld in the past, "now says the U.S. is achieving its objectives" in Iraq. But in reporting McCaffrey's optimistic statements about Iraq's army and police, Hume omitted a number of negative assessments of these two institutions and criticisms of Bush administration policy that McCaffrey included in his memo.
National Public Radio (NPR), the Associated Press, and ABC reported uncritically on the purported improvement of Iraqi forces, as touted by President Bush in a speech. But these outlets failed to note that the number of Iraqi battalions capable of operating independently has dropped from three in June 2005 to none eight months later. Moreover, contrary to NPR's assertion, Bush ignored this statistic in his speech and instead focused on other, more favorable indicators of improved troop readiness.
On Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, New York Post columnist Ralph Peters repeated the claim -- previously advanced by Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Peter Pace -- that during the recent sectarian violence in Iraq, the "Iraqi army was able to put over 100,000 troops in the street, and they calmed the situation." But news reports contradict Pace's and Peters's claims.
On NBC's Meet the Press, Tim Russert failed to challenge several misleading claims made by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in support of his assertion that the Iraq war is "going very, very well."