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."
In an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. told Tim Russert that Operation Swarmer -- a heavily publicized U.S.-Iraqi military campaign -- "got a little bit more hype than it really deserved because of the use of the helicopters to get the Iraqi and the coalition forces there," adding, "It might have looked a little more formidable than it actually was." But neither he nor Russert informed viewers about the apparent role of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army in creating that "hype."
NBC News correspondent David Gregory uncritically reported a claim by "Republican leaders" that the "president's strengths, like tax cuts or tough anti-terror measures, have been overlooked" because of Americans' concern over the war in Iraq. Gregory ignored the most recent polling on the subject -- a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll -- which found that 43 percent of Americans trust Democrats to do "a better job of handling taxes" than the president. In that poll, only 34 percent said the president would do a better job. And regarding "tough anti-terror" measures, polls indicate that American approval of the president on terrorism is decidedly more mixed than Gregory's statement suggested.
A Media Matters survey of guests on NBC's Today show thus far in 2006 revealed a significant preference for conservatives over progressives.
Reporting on a recent poll showing a record-low job approval rating for President Bush, NBC News correspondent Kelly O'Donnell aired a video clip of Bush shaking hands with audience members at a public event meant to promote his Medicare prescription drug benefit, saying that "the applause is usually quite warm" at Bush's public events and "[p]ublic feedback is only sometimes pointed." But O'Donnell did not inform viewers that the Bush administration reportedly screens audience members, removes protesters, and scripts questions prior to Bush appearing at public events.
On NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer asked NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert if President Bush's record-low approval numbers are "in some ways a blessing in disguise for Republicans ... [b]ecause, basically, they can look and say, 'Look, I don't have a popular president here. I can turn my back on that president, or even oppose that president going into these elections and stem the tide of this voter anger.' "
In covering the straw poll of Republican presidential hopefuls at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, Chris Matthews characterized Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as a "maverick," "kind of a party renegade," and a "lone gun," despite McCain's request that conference attendees cast write-in votes in support of President Bush.
In an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Sen. Joseph R Biden Jr. (D-DE) challenged host Tim Russert's previous suggestion that Democratic lawmakers seized on the recent ports controversy in order to build their national security credentials. Biden pointed out that since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly put forth proposals to bolster port security nationwide -- proposals that have consistently been met with stiff Republican resistance.
NBC News White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, apparently referring to a bill offered by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) that would block the acquisition of control over six U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World, falsely said that the bill would "stop Arab ownership" of U.S. port facilities. In fact, the legislation does not target "Arab ownership" of U.S. shipping terminals.
Following Dubai Ports World's announcement that it would divest its leases to terminals at six U.S. ports, news outlets and media figures depicted Republicans as having neutralized the issue of port security. In other cases, they portrayed the Democratic opposition to the state-owned Arab firm's acquisition of the ports as purely political. But such characterizations take a narrow view of the political issues involved in the controversy, entirely ignoring differences between the two parties' broader records on this issue.
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."
Faced with widespread criticism in recent weeks, the Bush administration and some of its supporters have promoted numerous false and misleading claims intended to downplay the approval of a deal that would turn over control of terminal operations at six U.S. ports to Dubai Ports World (DPW) -- a company owned by the government of Dubai, a member state of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- and cast critics of the transaction as racist, politically opportunistic, or both. The media, in turn, have often repeated these claims without challenge or correction.
NBC's Nightly News and Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume uncritically reported the new White House explanation for President Bush's claim that "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." The administration now claims that Bush was warned only of the levees "overtopping," not breaching. However, some key facts undermine this White House explanation.
Most major print and broadcast media outlets offered no coverage of House Homeland Security Committee chairman Peter King's March 1 claim that there was "no investigation into terrorism whatsoever" during the Bush administration's initial review of the proposed deal that would allow Dubai Ports World (DPW) to assume control of terminal operations at six major U.S. ports.
Appearing on NBC's Today, Chris Matthews suggested that President Bush had personal likeability numbers "going for him" until a recent CBS News poll showed them in decline. In fact, Bush's favorability ratings have been low for some time; they were low when Matthews said in November that "Everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs, maybe on the left."