On NBC's Meet the Press, host Tim Russert did not challenge Sen. John McCain's assertion that the Bush administration's false prewar claims about Iraq represented a "colossal intelligence failure" and that "[e]very intelligence agency in the world believed that he [former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein] had weapons of mass destruction." In fact, many of the Bush administration's most dramatic prewar claims -- about Iraq's supposed nuclear program, its alleged ties to Al Qaeda, and its willingness to attack the United States -- had been questioned by U.S. intelligence agencies.
Following up on Media Matters' in-depth study showing that Republican and conservative guests outnumbered Democratic and progressive guests on ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, and NBC's Meet the Press over a nine-year period, an examination of the guest lists for those programs during the first three months of 2006 showed that Republican and conservative dominance continued unabated.
NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer failed to challenge Republican strategist Mary Matalin's assertion that "[w]e have taken out the Al Qaeda network. We've decimated it." Matalin's claim was misleading at best; in fact, news reports indicate that the Al Qaeda network has continued to operate.
During a roundtable discussion on NBC's Meet the Press, New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller uncritically repeated Bush administration assertions that the administration was not attempting to blame the media for negative public opinion about the Iraq war. In fact, administration officials have repeatedly suggested that the media have painted a distorted and disproportionately negative picture of Iraq.
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.
During a March 21 press conference, the White House press corps failed to challenge President Bush after he offered a misleading and evasive answer about his reasons for invading Iraq in response to a question asked by Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas.
On NBC's Today, Katie Couric introduced a report on Wal-Mart's expansion of its retail business in China by telling viewers: "It's a company that is as American as mom and apple pie."
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.