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.
A Media Matters for America review of cable and broadcast networks and major newspapers showed no coverage of a September 17 front-page Washington Post report by Rajiv Chandrasekaran detailing the process by which many individuals who "lacked vital skills and experience" were assigned to positions in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq based on their "loyalty to the Bush administration."
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.
On NBC's Nightly News, Brian Williams claimed that "[s]cientists can't say yet whether global warming is the culprit for the recent reported ice melt in the Arctic." However, the scientist who wrote the NASA study to which Williams was presumably referring said that the new data from satellite imaging illustrating "an abrupt shrinkage" in the Arctic sea ice show "the strongest evidence of global warming in the Arctic so far."
House Majority Leader John Boehner received widespread media coverage for his remark about Democratic colleagues: "Sometimes, based on the votes that get cast, you wonder whether they're more interested in the rights of the terrorists than in protecting the American people." Sen. Mary Landrieu responded to similar criticism in the Senate with an indictment of the Republicans' counterterrorism policies. Will the media highlight Landrieu's comments as they did Boehner's?
NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams was the only evening network news broadcast to report on a classified assessment by the Marine Corps intelligence chief in Iraq that describes that country's Anbar province as "lost."
A Media Matters for America review of 12 reports on network evening news broadcasts covering President Bush's speeches and statements on Iraq, terrorism, and national security policy in the week preceding September 11 showed that the reports included responses from just five Democratic officials.
Various news media have uncritically reported ABC's statement that criticism of The Path to 9/11 is "premature and irresponsible," because the film has not yet been finalized, even though the network reportedly said the previous week that the film was "locked and ready to air," screened the film at the National Press Club, and has provided preview copies to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and a number of right-wing bloggers.
In coverage of President Bush's September 5 speech, during which he stated that the United States will not tolerate nations that "harbor" terrorists, CBS' Evening News with Katie Couric, NBC's Nightly News and Fox News' Special Report all ignored reports from the same day that purported U.S. ally Pakistan has signed a "peace deal" with local tribes reported to be allied with the Taliban and Al Qaeda, agreeing that it will cease military operations against them.
In his interview with President Bush, NBC's Brian Williams allowed Bush to falsely claim that "we delivered" on the promises Bush made during a September 2005 address to the nation in New Orleans; that Saddam Hussein had an active weapons of mass destruction program prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq; and that Bush had never suggested ties between Iraq, Saddam, and the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Williams also left unchallenged Bush's objection to the argument that the Iraq war has acted as a recruitment tool for terrorists.
Various print and television news outlets discussing a House report of U.S. intelligence on Iran characterized the report as "bipartisan" without noting that it was primarily written by Republican staff members and came under criticism from House Democrats.
Several media outlets, in their reporting on a response President Bush gave in his August 21 press conference to a question on Iraq, either excised or omitted Bush's admission that "sometimes I'm happy" when hearing about the situation there.
In the wake of the recent thwarting of an alleged terrorist plot in Britain, numerous media outlets have posed the question of whether news of the event would benefit President Bush, often letting conservatives or Republican officials spin the news in favor of the administration. Many of the reports neglected to consider whether the news could actually hurt Bush politically.
Numerous media outlets failed to challenge Donald Rumsfeld's claim to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton that he had "never painted a rosy picture" about the Iraq war, despite Sen. Clinton's proffer of specific instances in which she claimed he did just that.
In a July 31 report on the Food and Drug Administration's purported endorsement of the over-the-counter sale of the "morning-after" pill, or Plan B, for women 18 and older, NBC News correspondent Tom Costello falsely reported that the conservative Concerned Women for America "advocates" allowing women 18 and older to obtain the drug.