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.
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.
In an editorial, USA Today asserted that the Democrats may not take control of the House and/or the Senate in November because they have "failed to put together a platform as effective as the Contract with America was in bringing Republicans to power in 1994." In fact, polls from 1994 show that only a small percentage of voters said they were influenced by the contract -- and that most had not even heard of it.
While many other media outlets carried the story, ABC's World News and USA Today made no mention of a British army commander's October 12 claim that the presence of British troops in Iraq is fueling violence, and that British military forces should be withdrawn from the country.
A USA Today editorial suggested that voters view Democrats just as negatively as they do Republicans on the issue of corruption, but recent polls indicate that Americans, by wide margins, think Democrats would do a better job handling the issue.
In reporting on the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley, a number of media outlets have reported simply that the House Republican leadership claims to have been aware only of "over friendly" emails Foley sent in 2005, without noting that House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert appeared to have made no effort to determine the actual content of the emails -- including one in which Foley wrote of an underage male page: "[H]es [sic] in really great shape."
Despite initially hyping Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer's and Rep. Curt Weldon's claims that the military intelligence unit Able Danger identified Mohamed Atta prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, CNN and other media outlets have completely ignored the Defense Department inspector general's September 21 conclusion that "prior to September 11, 2001, Able Danger team members did not identify Mohammed Atta or any other 9/11 hijacker."
USA Today and the Associated Press reported that Bush had "highlight[ed] rebuilding efforts" following Hurricane Katrina and "praised the region's rebirth," but neither outlet noted any criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the reconstruction process, despite two reports by congressional Democrats in the past week detailing the "failed Republican response."
ABC News' George Stephanopoulos and MSNBC's Chris Matthews, among others, repeated, without challenge, the false attacks from Tony Snow, Ken Mehlman, and Dick Cheney that Democrats "purged" Sen. Joe Lieberman from the Democratic Party and that Ned Lamont's primary victory over Lieberman represents a takeover of the Democratic Party by the far left.
In recent days, some members of the conservative media have seen signs of the Apocalypse in the escalated conflicts in the Middle East and Asia. Pat Robertson has considered the possibility but has seemed to reject it, while columnist Hal Lindsey has simply asserted: "Now Armageddon looms large before us." But as recent reports on CNN and in USA Today attest, conservatives are not the only media figures to raise the question of whether current events are a sign of the "End Times."
USA Today uncritically reported that President Bush "has pointed out that he is the first president" to provide federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. Similarly, Glenn Beck stated that "[i]t was George Bush who opened the doors for federal funding [for stem cell research]. He was the first president to fund it," and that "Bill Clinton in 1995 opposed" research on embryos. In fact, the Clinton administration proposed federal funding and, later, drafted guidelines to fund embryonic stem cell research, but those rules had yet to take effect when he left office.
In an article on legislation proposed by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) regarding the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program, USA Today failed to quote a single Democrat or progressive critical of Specter's approach.
Following President Bush's nomination of Henry M. Paulson Jr. to replace Treasury Secretary John Snow, major newspapers largely ignored a deceptive -- at best -- answer Bush gave last week about whether Snow would be leaving the administration. When asked during a May 25 press conference whether Snow "had given [Bush] any indication that he intends to leave his job any time soon," Bush responded: "No, he has not talked to me about resignation. I think he's doing a fine job." Yet press secretary Tony Snow told reporters that Bush had already selected John Snow's replacement by May 21.