Newspaper editorial boards have responded with a variety of opinions to the Mark Foley scandal, from calling for -- or opposing -- House Speaker Dennis Hastert's resignation to noting the "rank hypocrisy" of Republican leaders to referring to the Republicans' attempt to use a "gay scapegoat."
The News York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN uncritically reported Republican claims that the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley has had little effect on potential voters. None of the three noted that recent, nonpartisan, publicly available polls contradict Republican claims that voters do not appear concerned about the scandal.
Numerous print media outlets reported Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert's most recent explanation of when he learned that former Rep. Mark Foley had engaged in inappropriate email correspondences with former congressional pages. But these outlets ignored the shifts in Hastert's account since the story broke, as well as House Majority Leader John Boehner's conflicting statements regarding whether he discussed the problem with Hastert.
In a Washington Post article, Charles Babington and Jonathan Weisman claimed that former Rep. Mark Foley was told to "leave pages alone" after Rep. Rodney Alexander reportedly revealed to House leadership that a former page on Alexander's staff had received "over-friendly" emails from Foley. In fact, the same reporters had reported the previous day that Foley had been told only to leave the page who complained alone and "to treat all pages respectfully," suggesting that House leaders expected Foley would have further contact with pages.
In their coverage of the Clinton-Wallace interview, the media largely ignored the substance of former President Clinton's criticism of the Bush administration's efforts to combat terrorism, instead focusing on Clinton's behavior during the interview or the possibility that his reaction was motivated by politics.
At a White House press conference, President Bush described Americans who think the Iraq war has made the country less safe as "naïve" and rebutted claims that the conflict has contributed to the growing terrorist threat by repeating his illogical argument that "[w]e weren't in Iraq when we got attacked on September the 11th." But reporters failed to challenge his non-responsive remarks, and several print outlets uncritically reported them shortly thereafter.
Washington Post staff writer Peter Baker wrote that while President Bush's "public persona gives little sense that he dwells on the costs of war ... the private Bush comes across differently in the accounts of aides, friends, relatives and military family members who have met with him." However, Baker did not mention instances in which Bush has publicly made dismissive comments about U.S. involvement in Iraq.
The New York Times and The Washington Post highlighted President Bush's recent attack on the Clinton administration's tax increases and his touting of the tax cuts he passed in his first term, but did not compare the effects of these policies. In fact, after President Bill Clinton's 1993 tax bill passed, deficits declined and budgets were in surplus within five years, while the federal budgets approved under Bush have produced record deficits.
The Washington Post has hired Michael Gerson -- who as President Bush's chief speechwriter from 2001-2005 crafted the false and misleading rhetoric the Bush administration used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq -- to be an op-ed columnist. The Post editorial board repeated without question some of that false and misleading rhetoric in its support of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and has passed up several opportunities to re-examine its support of the Bush administration's push for war.
A Washington Post article reported Tony Perkins's assertion that "liberal policymakers find themselves" in a "pickle" when talking about faith because "they get pinned down on their policy positions," which are "inconsistent with the tenets of their faith." But the article did not quote any progressive religious organizations in response to Perkins's claim, even though previous reports in the Post have suggested that conservative policymakers should be in a similar "pickle" for backing a number of policies that appear to be inconsistent with their faith.
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote that Sen. John McCain "embodies a quality for which the country yearns: integrity," suggesting that this quality gives McCain greater "stature" than the presumptive 2008 Democratic presidential candidates. But in lauding McCain's "integrity" and ability to restore public faith in government, Cohen apparently ignored the senator's flip-flops, backtracks, and inconsistencies on a variety of issues.
After examining The Washington Post's coverage of prewar intelligence on Iraq, executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. admitted that the newspaper did not give "proper play" to stories that could have been seen as challenging the Bush administration's pro-war arguments. Despite this admission, it appears the Post is following the same pattern in its coverage of intelligence on Iran's nuclear capability.
Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell again conflated objections to factual errors and differences of opinion to dismiss readers' complaints against a Post editorial about the Valerie Plame case. The editorial contained demonstrable falsehoods previously exposed by the Post's own reporting, as Media Matters for America documented.
Washington Post staff writer Jonathan Weisman reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a GOP bill that would essentially codify the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program. But Weisman ignored a bipartisan bill passed by the same committee that would reaffirm the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires court approval for all domestic eavesdropping for foreign intelligence purposes.
In their coverage of President Bush's commemoration of 9-11, The New York Times and The Washington Post suggested it was Democrats who undermined efforts to re-create the national sense of unity that initially followed the attacks, even though reports have noted the White House's strategy for extracting political gain from the 9-11 anniversary.