Following a recent trend of portraying bad news for President Bush as a blessing in disguise for Republicans and the White House, various news outlets and media figures have uncritically echoed the Bush administration's claim that the recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Hezbollah represents a "leadership opportunity" for Bush.
A Newsweek article offered various reasons why the Bush administration's response to the North Korean missile tests "has been relatively low key," but completely ignored another explanation: In the words of one expert on U.S. policy toward North Korea, "they don't want to highlight the failure of American policy for the last five years."
A Media Matters analysis of the media coverage of the Iraq war debate shows that the favored Republican talking points on Iraq have gone largely unchallenged in the media and have even been adopted as truths by some media outlets and figures.
Despite the fact that most Americans favor the Democratic position of setting dates for the withdrawal of U.S.troops from Iraq and disapproving of the war altogether, Newsweek and Andrew Sullivan continued to present the Republican Party's "stay the course" platform for the Iraq war as a political winner.
An article for the June 26 edition of Newsweek on President Bush's "fresh strategy to build bipartisan support for the new Iraqi cabinet" quoted an anonymous "congressional aide" who attended a picnic at the White House saying: "It was like they'd gotten a second wind, the president especially. ... I haven't seen them that relaxed in a long, long time." Newsweek correspondents Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey wrote their source "declined to be named when talking about a private event," but this explanation appears not to meet the magazine's guidelines for anonymous sourcing.
Media outlets have continued to ignore President Bush's previous praise of a controversial immigration bill that passed the House of Representatives in December and his reported advocacy of some of its most controversial provisions. These media have instead uncritically reported Bush's opposition to the House bill.
On Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, guest host and National Review editor Rich Lowry claimed that nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh was being "smeared" by the media "because you're seeing his picture up on the TV screen with the legend 'arrested' underneath it" after Limbaugh and Palm Beach County, Florida, state prosecutors reached an agreement on the charge that Limbaugh illegally obtained prescription drugs. Similarly, a Newsweek article asserted that the use of the word "arrested" in initial news stories was "misleading."
Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey suggested in Newsweek magazine that new White House press secretary Tony Snow will act independently or break from the White House message, but made no mention of Snow's April 26 interview on Fox News, during which he claimed that, as press secretary, he will cast aside his own beliefs and present the administration's message.
In reporting on the scandals and issues confronting the Bush administration, various media outlets have imputed to President Bush and members of his administration comments or statements they have not actually made. These phony statements often arise as a result of reporters misinterpreting an administration official's statement or inaccurately attributing a position or statement to an administration official.
A Newsweek article regarding Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) criticism of a recent immigration bill suggested that Clinton was seizing on the opportunity to inject religion into the debate. In fact, numerous religious leaders have leveled similar criticism at sponsors of legislation that would critics say would punish "good Samaritans."
The March 20 issues of Time and Newsweek magazines both granted anonymity to sources making statements in defense of President Bush.
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.
A Newsweek article argued that Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s wife bursting into tears during his nomination hearing has left Democrats "looking like bullies," thanks to "a coalition of liberal interest groups" that "pushed the lawmakers to come on stronger." But the article ignored the campaign launched by conservatives immediately after the incident to blame Democrats for Martha-Ann Alito's tears, which came during Sen. Lindsey Graham's questioning.
A Newsweek article asserted that the reaction to the Bush administration's warrantless domestic spying program was "predictably partisan," even though numerous Republican elected officials, conservative commentators, and newspapers that endorsed President Bush's re-election in 2004 also criticized the program.
On NBC's Meet the Press, Newsweek managing editor John Meacham called Sen. Russ Feingold "a sane Howard Dean."
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