From the folks at the Media Research Center:

Democratic presidential candidates may be attacking President Bush’s credibility over the single sentence in his State of the Union address, but they are aided by the media which are becoming obsessed as a summer scandal with how Bush “misled” the public and “deliberately exaggerated the case for war.” Multiple stories on the “controversy” have led the evening newscasts since the middle of last week with the morning shows devoting a top of the show interview segment to it.

On Saturday night, ABC anchor Claire Shipman declared: “The firestorm over false intelligence that President Bush used to help justify war in Iraq is intensifying.” Over on CBS on Sunday night, anchor John Roberts referred to the “swirl of controversy over whether” the Bush administration “knowingly put dubious intelligence into this year’s State of the Union address.” In a self-fulfilling statement, Roberts argued that “the issue refuses to go away.”

But as ABC News Political Director Mark Helperin suggested on World News Tonight/Sunday, the media are enabling the Democratic presidential candidates: “Why are the Democrats now directly going after Mr. Bush in the very area where he has been so strong?” Over a shot of the cover of Time magazine with “Untruth & Consequences” over photo of Bush delivering State of the Union address, Halperin answered: “For one thing, there’s the daily drumbeat of media questions.” Halperin had noted how “the Democrats hope to break the presidential monopoly on national security and credibility, to return the Bush image to one some Americans held of candidate Bush after this famous campaign pop quiz:”

Reporter in 2000: “The Prime Minister of India?”
Bush: “The new Prime Minister of India is ah, ah, no.”
Halperin: “And after a shaky start on September 11th.”
A hesitant Bush: “We will do whatever is necessary to protect America and Americans.”

[Hey my parents are from India, and I don’t know who their Prime Minister is either.–Editor]

For a flavor of the media’s hyperbolic focus, some intros to the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Friday and Sunday:

— ABC’s World News Tonight on Friday. Peter Jennings teased: “On World News Tonight, an ABC News poll that will not please the President: Half the public thinks he deliberately exaggerated the case for war. The Democrats are demanding a public investigation.” Jennings then opened the program: “Good evening everyone. It has happened to other Presidents. They go off on a trip to some part of the world and as much as they would like the news to be about them and where they are, sometimes they cannot avoid the news at home or from somewhere else. President Bush’s trip to Africa — and it’s an important trip — had been overshadowed for several days by the war in Iraq. An ABC News/Washington Post poll which has just been finished, finds that 52 percent of Americans, a majority for the first time, find the level of U.S. casualties in Iraq unacceptable. And 50 percent of Americans believe the Bush administration in arguing for the war intentionally exaggerated the evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.”

— NBC Nightly News on Friday. Brian Williams began: “It was just one sentence in a long State of the Union speech that the President delivered in January. But it was a major accusation, one part of the President’s case for possible war with Iraq. The facts have turned out differently. The accusation was wrong. And now, with 148,000 Americans on the ground there, with over 200 dead and over a thousand wounded, the questions for this White House are heating up. We begin tonight with NBC’s David Gregory traveling with the President in Nigeria.”

— ABC’s World News Tonight/Sunday. Anchor Dean Reynolds: “On World News Tonight this Sunday, new details on just who approved that controversial passage in the President’s State of the Union address as the White House continues to deflect questions. Did the President mislead the nation on the road to war with Iraq? Democratic rivals sense an opportunity.”

— CBS Evening News on Sunday. Anchor John Roberts announced: “The White House tried to lay to rest today the swirl of controversy over whether it knowingly put dubious intelligence into this year’s State of the Union address. Top administration officials said again today that the claim Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Africa should not have been in the speech, but they denied any attempt to deceive the American people or hype the evidence against Iraq. But as Joie Chen reports, the issue refuses to go away.”

The media certainly won’t let it.

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