On October 31, the network news led with coverage of the controversy surrounding Sen. John Kerry's "botched joke," downplaying a story on the U.S. military's accession to an order by Iraqi's prime minister to dismantle checkpoints around Sadr City that were part of an effort to locate a missing U.S. soldier. The Los Angeles Times ran the Kerry story on the front page of its print edition, relegating the story on Sadr City to Page 10.
Numerous news outlets -- including the Los Angeles Times, ABC, CNN, and CNBC -- uncritically reported President Bush's false claim that Democrats oppose "listening to," "detaining," "questioning," and "trying the terrorists." In fact, Democrats have repeatedly acknowledged the need to eavesdrop on, detain, question, and try terrorists, while objecting to specific Bush administration antiterrorism policies that they consider to be violations of current U.S. or international law, or unwarranted expansions of presidential powers.
Articles by the AP and the Los Angeles Times reported on White House senior adviser Karl Rove's trips to support Republican candidates in the upcoming congressional elections, but none of the articles mentioned that Susan Ralston, a "key aide" to Rove, had resigned after a congressional report disclosed Ralston's alleged connections to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.
The scandal surrounding the sexually explicit electronic communications former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) allegedly sent to underage former congressional pages -- and the House Republican leadership's alleged cover-up of Foley's behavior -- have produced a wave of misinformation. To aid members of the media in covering the scandal, Media Matters for America has compiled a list of the top myths, falsehoods, and baseless assertions surrounding the controversy.
Newspaper editorial boards have responded with a variety of opinions to the Mark Foley scandal, from calling for -- or opposing -- House Speaker Dennis Hastert's resignation to noting the "rank hypocrisy" of Republican leaders to referring to the Republicans' attempt to use a "gay scapegoat."
Following House Speaker Dennis Hastert's press conference, numerous media outlets trumpeted the news that Hastert took "responsibility" for the Mark Foley scandal but ignored his later statement, during that same press conference, that "I haven't done anything wrong."
In reporting that North Korea has recently declared that it intends to conduct its first nuclear weapons test, the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times failed to note that North Korea's nuclear arsenal has grown significantly during the Bush administration.
Numerous print media outlets reported Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert's most recent explanation of when he learned that former Rep. Mark Foley had engaged in inappropriate email correspondences with former congressional pages. But these outlets ignored the shifts in Hastert's account since the story broke, as well as House Majority Leader John Boehner's conflicting statements regarding whether he discussed the problem with Hastert.
In their coverage of the scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley, only a few major media outlets have noted that Foley is the third Republican congressman to leave office in scandal within the past year. A fourth Republican congressman, Rep. Bob Ney, has pleaded guilty to corruption charges but not resigned his seat.
Los Angeles Times staff writer James Gerstenzang reported that the recently released National Intelligence Estimate said "that the militant movement opposing U.S. forces in Iraq had grown stronger." In fact, the NIE found that the Iraq war has boosted terrorist recruitment worldwide. By downplaying the NIE's judgments, Gerstenzang failed to provide proper context for the Democratic criticism noted in the article and added credence to President Bush's recent attack on those critics.
The Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press reported House Majority Leader John Boehner's suggestion that Democratic opponents of the GOP-backed detainee legislation were refusing to "work with Republicans." Neither outlet noted that Democrats had offered 15 amendments to the bill that were barred from consideration by the Republican-led House Rules Committee.
In their coverage of the Clinton-Wallace interview, the media largely ignored the substance of former President Clinton's criticism of the Bush administration's efforts to combat terrorism, instead focusing on Clinton's behavior during the interview or the possibility that his reaction was motivated by politics.
Numerous print and television outlets uncritically reported President Bush's response to a reporter's question about a letter by former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in which Powell argued that "[t]he world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism." Bush stated: "If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic. I simply can't accept that." In fact, neither the question nor Powell's letter made any such comparison.