Stating on Meet the Press that Americans support President Bush's domestic spying program, Tim Russert selectively cited data from an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll to prove his point. Russert cited a question about whether people support Bush's "approach" to the domestic spying program, while ignoring poll questions regarding privacy concerns raised by the program and whether warrants should have been obtained before wiretapping.
NBC's Katie Couric falsely claimed that during most of the State of the Union address, "Democrats sat on their hands" and "really applauded" only when President Bush mentioned the failure of his Social Security plan.
Offering little evidence, while ignoring mounting evidence of dissent within the Bush administration as well as its contradictory attempts to explain President Bush's warrantless domestic spying program, Time's Michael Duffy and Mike Allen both claimed that, in Duffy's words, Bush has "put ... to bed" the controversy.
On Meet the Press, Tim Russert, along with a roundtable of reporters, speculated over the implications of a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll that rated potential presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Condoleezza Rice. However, not one reporter in the roundtable mentioned that the poll included Rice, much less that the difference between Rice's numbers and Clinton's fell within the margin of error.
In a January 23 speech defending his warrantless domestic surveillance program, President Bush claimed that Congress' 2001 authorization of force, upheld by the Supreme Court in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, establishes his authority to conduct the program. But numerous legal authorities have objected to Bush's claim that the high court affirmed his authority to wiretap U.S. residents without a warrant. Despite these objections, several news outlets repeated Bush's claim without challenge.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell claimed that recent polls on President Bush's authorization of warrantless wiretapping showed "little public outcry over the program, especially when [the administration] tell[s] people it is limited only to those who talk to Al Qaeda." What Mitchell did not note is that the administration's characterization of the program understates its scope. Moreover, recent polling shows that support for the program is at best split.
One day after NBC's Katie Couric chided Howard Dean for saying that Democratic lawmakers received no campaign contributions from Jack Abramoff, Matt Lauer said that "technically speaking, Howard Dean may be correct." In fact, Dean was correct and Couric was wrong.
NBC's Katie Couric wrongly challenged Howard Dean when he made the accurate statement that "all these folks involved in getting money" from Jack Abramoff "are Republicans." However, Couric and Matt Lauer have often failed to challenge guests who assert conservative falsehoods or make misleading claims that enhance conservative positions.
NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer failed to challenge Sen. John McCain's misleading claims that "members of Congress -- including Democrats -- were briefed" on President Bush's warrantless domestic spying program "and there didn't seem to be ... any public outcry until recently." In fact, of the seven Democratic lawmakers known to have been briefed on the domestic spying program prior to its disclosure by The New York Times, three have said they objected privately at the time, and three more have said they weren't given adequate information about the program. Moreover, these lawmakers could not have raised "any public outcry," because the briefings were classified.
For the third time in just over three months, Bill O'Reilly appeared on NBC's Today despite the fact that, in his previous appearance on the show, he compared those who support withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq to Hitler appeasers.
In coverage of President Bush's January 23 speech at Kansas State University, evening news broadcasts on ABC, CBS, and NBC uncritically reported Bush's assertion that his "briefing Congress" about his authorization of warrantless domestic wiretaps by the National Security Agency shows that he believed the wiretapping program was legal; however, members of Congress from both parties have disputed the claim that they were adequately briefed. Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) said that the "program in fact goes far beyond the measures to target Al Qaeda about which I was briefed."
During an NBC Nightly News report on the increase in "serious" movies that involve current issues and topics, right-wing columnist Steve Sailer was quoted as a "critic" upset over "a lack of diversity of political opinions in Hollywood"; however, the report omitted any mention of Sailer's controversial associations, including his writing for VDARE.com -- the right-wing website that publishes the work of "white nationalists."
Covering the nomination hearing of Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr., NBC News correspondent Pete Williams asserted that "Alito himself told the senators this week that a president does not have the power to disregard a law." But Williams based this on only a part of a response Alito gave on the issue of presidential power. In fact, Alito's entire response on the issue constitutes a legal truism that tells senators nothing about his views on presidential power versus congressional power -- that the president cannot disregard a law that is constitutional. Simply put, Alito told the committee that the president has to follow the law except when he doesn't have to.