Despite the significance of President Bush's November 1 pronouncement that Donald Rumsfeld will remain defense secretary until the end of his presidency, multiple media outlets have devoted much greater attention to the controversy over Sen. John Kerry's "botched joke."
Numerous news outlets have failed to provide the full context for Kerry's recent remarks on Iraq, instead presenting the issue of whether Kerry intended to criticize the troops as a he-said/she-said conflict. These outlets have also ignored comments by several prominent Republicans acknowledging that Kerry did not intend to disparage American soldiers.
A Washington Post story on Sen. George Allen's accusations that James Webb's novels include "inappropriate sex scenes and demeaning descriptions of women" contained an acknowledgment that the newspaper decided to report the story only after Matt Drudge had highlighted it on his website.
Numerous media outlets reported without challenge President Bush's assertion that the "ultimate accountability" for the Iraq war "rests with me" -- some even asserting that he "took full responsibility for the war." But these reports ignored Bush's consistent pattern of deflecting questions regarding his judgments on Iraq by stating that he defers to others, including top generals, the intelligence community, and the Iraqi government, in making such decisions.
The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press have reported Rep. Curt Weldon's statements blaming an FBI investigation of him on Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) but failed to include any response from CREW or point out that the FBI is a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, which is part of the Bush administration and headed by a Bush confidante.
Although Washington Post, New York Times, and Reuters reports on President Bush's signing of the Military Commissions Act included general criticism of the legislation, they were all silent on its most controversial provision: allowing the president to detain noncitizens in the United States or abroad for any reason, indefinitely.
In a Washington Post article, staff writer Jonathan Weisman purported to equate the controversy surrounding a land deal involving Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid with another involving Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert. But Weisman ignored a key difference between the two: While there are allegations that Hastert used his office to increase the value of his real estate, there is no similar evidence about Reid's transaction.
The Washington Post uncritically reported Rep. Chris Shays's (R-CT) purported explanation for his reference to Chappaquiddick, claiming that he made his comment in the context of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's appearance with Shays's opponent, Diane Farrell, whose calls for Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's resignation over the Mark Foley scandal, Shays said, were made before the evidence of Hastert's "serious mishandling" of the scandal had come out. But Shays himself was one of the first Republicans to comment on evidence that the House leadership knew of some of Foley's alleged communications with pages. He was quoted in The New York Times on October 1 -- two days after the scandal broke -- saying that if any House leaders "knew or should have known the extent of this problem, they should not serve in leadership."
The Washington Post reported in an article by Jim VandeHei that "Democrats are targeting the personal lives of Republicans in numerous key House races as part of a campaign to capitalize on voter disgust" stemming from the scandal surrounding Rep. Mark Foley. But it made no mention of the numerous GOP-produced negative ads currently in circulation -- despite the fact that VandeHei co-wrote a Post article a month earlier about Republicans' pre-election strategy of "attacking Democratic House and Senate candidates over personal issues and local controversies."
CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight and the Washington Post editorial board devoted significant attention to "serious questions" surrounding a land deal involving Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, but both treated with relative nonchalance reports that Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert made almost $2 million on the sale of land in Illinois after taking an active role in the passage of a transportation bill that included an earmark for a highway project near the property.
The Washington Post, NBC, and ABC all uncritically covered Sen. John McCain's attack on the Clinton administration's North Korea policy, in which he argued that the 1994 Agreed Framework between the United States and North Korea had been a "failure." All of these outlets ignored the fact, however, that the Clinton White House successfully prevented North Korea from producing any plutonium for eight years.
The scandal surrounding the sexually explicit electronic communications former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) allegedly sent to underage former congressional pages -- and the House Republican leadership's alleged cover-up of Foley's behavior -- have produced a wave of misinformation. To aid members of the media in covering the scandal, Media Matters for America has compiled a list of the top myths, falsehoods, and baseless assertions surrounding the controversy.