Recent reports on the reported activation of the U.S. ground-based missile defense system have overstated its ability to defend against an actual attack and uncritically reported administration claims about its effectiveness. Government Accountability Office reports indicate that the system has no proven ability to shoot down a hostile missile.
Several news outlets missed a key point in their reporting on the Senate's defeat of two Democratic amendments calling for U.S. redeployment from Iraq: The Democrats' claim that their position reflects public opinion is backed by polling data showing that a majority of Americans support some form of withdrawal.
Broadcast networks covering the news that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald reportedly told White House senior adviser Karl Rove that he does not anticipate charging Rove in connection with the CIA leak investigation left out key information concerning Rove's conduct and the false and misleading information put out by the White House concerning the matter. Rove's history of falsely claiming that he was not involved in disclosing CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity was ignored or downplayed, as was the White House's false denials of Rove's role.
Introducing an NBC Nightly News report on right-wing pundit Ann Coulter's appearance on Today, Brian Williams said that controversial comments Coulter made about the widows of victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were "over the line -- the line that is shared by just about everybody because some things, it turns out, are still sacred."
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In their reporting on the conviction of former Enron Corp. executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling on fraud and conspiracy charges, the network news programs all failed to mention the ties between the fallen corporation and President Bush. Further, the Los Angeles Times ran six separate articles on the Enron verdicts on May 26, but not a single one noted Bush's connection to Enron and, in particular, his close personal and political ties to Lay.
Reports by both ABC's World News Tonight and NBC's Nightly News on the Senate hearing for Gen. Michael Hayden's nomination to be CIA director aired Sen. Ron Wyden's (D-OR) comment that he had "a difficult time with [Hayden's] credibility." But neither network mentioned the reasons cited by Wyden to explain his concern, including Hayden's misleading statement to Congress in 2002 that the National Security Agency did not have the authority to electronically eavesdrop on residents without a warrant -- even as the NSA was reportedly conducting such surveillance.
After a speech by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld on May 4, retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern questioned Rumsfeld over his previous claims about Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda. Rumsfeld gave misleading answers, which McGovern pointed out during the exchange. But in their coverage, NBC, CBS, and Fox News deceptively edited the exchange, excluding McGovern's rebuttals of Rumsfeld's claims without noting that they had done so.
Following the White House Correspondents' dinner, numerous news outlets trumpeted President Bush's performance at the event, but entirely ignored the scathing routine delivered by the night's featured entertainer, Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert. In his act, Colbert mocked the White House's current woes, slammed a wide range of Bush administration policies, and lampooned the mainstream media.
Both the CBS Evening News and NBC's Nightly News reported that President Bush endorsed a proposal by Senate Republicans to grant the executive branch authority to set fuel-efficiency standards for cars -- a power that currently resides with Congress. CBS and NBC failed to note, however, that this move by Bush represents a significant shift for the White House, which opposed, as recently as February, increasing efficiency standards for passenger cars.
Reporting on a meeting between President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao, NBC News' David Gregory said that protesters from the banned religious movement Falun Gong, including one who interrupted Hu's remarks to plead that Bush "stop him [Hu] from killing," provided a "fitting backdrop to a strong message the president sent on human rights in China." But Gregory ignored the fact that, as The Washington Post reported on April 21, "Bush did not mention the persecution of Falun Gong, even with hundreds of its followers outside the White House."
NBC News' Andrea Mitchell falsely suggested that the United States, unlike China, does not import oil from Venezuela and Nigeria. However, according the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States imports significant quantities of oil from Venezuela and Nigeria. In fact, in January 2006, Venezuela was the second-largest source of imported oil to the United States, after Canada.
On April 17, numerous news outlets -- including NBC, CBS, NPR, and Fox News -- covering former Illinois governor George Ryan's conviction on corruption charges failed to mention that he is a Republican. Time magazine went a step further, omitting Ryan's Republican affiliation while reporting that "the current administration of Democrat Rod Blagojevich is also being investigated."
Since March 23, each of the three major network nightly newscasts have uncritically reported administration statements expressing outrage over the prosecution and possible execution of an Afghan man for converting to Christianity, in defiance of Islamic law. But none of the nightly newscasts noted that when the Afghan constitution was ratified in 2004, President Bush hailed it for "lay[ing] the foundation for democratic institutions," despite a provision in the constitution asserting the supremacy of Islamic law.
NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell uncritically reported President Bush's misleading response to an audience question at the City Club of Cleveland on March 20 where Bush was giving a speech. O'Donnell aired Bush's statement -- "I was very careful never to say that Saddam Hussein ordered the attacks on America" -- but failed to note that Bush was answering a question he had not been asked. The audience member to whom Bush was responding never accused Bush of "say[ing] that Saddam Hussein ordered the attacks on America."