Following President Bush's announcement of his proposal to deploy as many as 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff defended the administration's plan to bolster border protection in numerous media appearances and interviews. But in their coverage, media generally failed to mention that in December 2005, Chertoff characterized the deployment of the National Guard for border protection as "a horribly overexpensive and very difficult way to manage this problem."
Following President Bush's speech on immigration, CNN aired a special edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight that consisted largely of a roundtable discussion moderated by show host Lou Dobbs, with four other white men as guests: conservative syndicated columnist Tony Blankley, Republican strategist Charlie Black, CNN senior political analyst and American Enterprise Institute resident fellow William Schneider, and CNN host Wolf Blitzer. Missing from the discussion was the perspective of a Democrat, a progressive, a woman, or a Latino.
A Christian Science Monitor article cited a May 3 Zogby poll that found "[b]y a 2 to 1 margin" likely voters prefer the more punitive, enforcement-only immigration bill passed by the House in December over the comprehensive proposals currently being considered by the Senate. CNN host Lou Dobbs also cited the poll to claim that "voters overwhelmingly believe the House of Representatives has a better plan than the Senate." But the Zogby poll -- which was commissioned by an anti-immigration group -- misrepresented both proposals, and most polls on the issue run counter to Zogby's conclusions.
CNN's Lou Dobbs raised the question of whether it was a reflection of the mainstream media's purported "liberal bias" that Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert's lampooning of President Bush at the White House correspondents' dinner "was not more heavily criticized." But Dobbs's assumption that the media tilts to the left is contradicted by the imbalance on his own show, which regularly hosts far more conservative guests than liberal ones.
In reporting on President Bush's announcement that he would suspend fuel deposits into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to reduce rising gasoline prices, numerous news outlets failed to note that Bush had previously criticized both the Clinton administration and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) for proposing to use the reserve to lower prices.
CNN's Lou Dobbs allowed Rep. Peter King to advance a misleading Republican claim Dobbs himself had previously repeated on the program -- that Democrats bear responsibility for a controversial provision in the immigration bill passed by the House of Representatives that would make unlawful presence in the United States a felony.
Several news outlets have uncritically reported GOP leaders' claim that Democrats voted in favor of the controversial felony provision in the Republican-sponsored House immigration bill. But while House Democrats rejected an amendment reducing the charge for unlawful presence in the United States from a felony to a misdemeanor, they made clear at the time that their votes were consistent with their opposition to any criminal penalties for illegal U.S. presence.
In reporting on the scandals and issues confronting the Bush administration, various media outlets have imputed to President Bush and members of his administration comments or statements they have not actually made. These phony statements often arise as a result of reporters misinterpreting an administration official's statement or inaccurately attributing a position or statement to an administration official.
CNN's David Ensor claimed that a 2003 executive order "makes clear that the president and the vice president can order aides," such as Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, "to give any classified material they want to a reporter." Similarly, in his New York Post column, John Podhoretz, citing a 1982 executive order, claimed that President Bush "can declassify a document merely by declaring it unclassified."
CNN's Lou Dobbs falsely suggested that a Colorado middle school's ban on flags -- in the wake of protests at the school over proposed immigration reform legislation -- applied only to the American flag. In fact, the ban encompassed clothing depicting all flags and other "patriotic" symbols, and was not limited to American flags. Dobbs also said a California school district "ban[ned] flags and patriotic symbols"; in fact, both the Mexican and American flags are prohibited there.
CNN host Lou Dobbs falsely claimed that "there have been more advocates of open borders and illegal immigration" on Lou Dobbs Tonight "than there have been opponents." In fact, a Media Matters review of the first three months of 2006 found that among guests who held positions on immigration reform, Lou Dobbs Tonight featured 26 appearances by guests who largely agreed with Dobbs's positions on immigration reform, compared with only 16 guests whom he might describe as "advocates of open borders and illegal immigration."
Several media figures have misrepresented public opinion polling on immigration issues in order to falsely suggest that the public opposes providing a temporary work program and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. In fact, polling has consistently shown that most Americans favor some form of temporary guest worker program or path to citizenship for the illegal immigrants already in the United States.
Following recent demonstrations in which protesters marched against proposed legislation that would criminalize undocumented workers, some in the media have criticized the demonstrators for carrying Mexican flags. But these same media figures have not complained about people waving other nations' flags, such as Irish flags at St. Patrick's Day events, Italian flags at Columbus Day events, or Israeli flags at Israel Day events.
Over the past year, CNN hosts, anchors, and reporters have repeatedly commented on the Democratic Party's purported lack of a clear plan or concrete set of alternatives on issues ranging from Social Security to the war in Iraq. When a large coalition of Democrats stood together on March 29 to unveil a unified national security platform, CNN largely ignored the news.
A Media Matters study of guests on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight shows that far more Republican and conservative guests have appeared on the show during the first two months of 2006 than have Democratic or progressive guests.