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?
In her Today debut, Meredith Vieira claimed that the Democrats have "argued against the Republican position for months now, but they really haven't come up with a plan of their own when it comes to victory in Iraq without withdrawing." But Vieira's assertion appeared to be based on an assumption that is now being called into question by the U.S. military -- that remaining in Iraq indefinitely constitutes a plan for "victory."
NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer, apparently unaware of a newly unveiled Democratic national security agenda, asked why Democrats -- when faced with the argument that Republicans will "make you safer" -- "haven't come up with a better answer than, 'That's not a fair comment.' "
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.
NBC News and the Associated Press uncritically reported Vice President Dick Cheney's claim that the absence of an Al Qaeda attack in America since 9-11 is proof that the Bush administration has done "a pretty good job" or "a hell of a job" with counterterrorism. But neither outlet contrasted Cheney's assertion with investigative reporter Ron Suskind's recent disclosure that many CIA analysts believe Al Qaeda leaders have declined to attack the U.S. again for strategic reasons.
On the syndicated Chris Matthews Show, BBC Washington correspondent Katty Kay asserted that a new book that critically examines Rudy Giuliani's role in New York City's response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks "is gonna sound a little bit turgid, I think, and bureaucratic compared to this hero image which Rudy Giuliani has." Later in the program, Matthews compared Giuliani's standing among voters to that of Sen. John McCain, asserting that he "expect[s] McCain to win every one of these polls. The press loves McCain. We're his base."
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NBC's Tim Russert did not challenge Vice President Dick Cheney's broad declarations that allegations regarding Bush administration actions in Iraq and against terrorism were "wrong" or untrue, letting Cheney make his assertions without asking the vice president to specify what widely-reported and in some cases seemingly irrefutable facts he was taking issue with.
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.