NBC Nightly News Compares Iraq to Vietnam

NBC on Tuesday night devoted a story to comparing Iraq to Vietnam. Reporter Jim Miklaszewski concluded that “while there are marked differences between the wars in Iraq and Vietnam, the rhetoric, at least, is beginning to sound much the same.” Miklaszewski used as an excuse for raising the subject how "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld himself bringing up the Vietnam issue at his Pentagon briefing today” and rejected the equivalence. Miklaszewski went on to highlight how Senator Chuck Hagel, “the prominent Republican and decorated Vietnam veteran, said this week the U.S. is now bogged down in Iraq, similar to Vietnam.” Miklaszewski reported that “there's increasing concern in the Pentagon that a growing anti-war drumbeat here at home” -- a drumbeat being pounded by NBC -- “could eventually take a toll on troop morale in Iraq, not at all unlike Vietnam.” He also chided Rumsfeld for how he “ignored the latest polls which indicate a majority of Americans now think it was a mistake to go to war in Iraq."CyberAlert item follows. For all of the articles in today's MRC CyberAlert.(An earlier NewsBusters posting today by Mark Finkelstein highlighted NBC's Vietnam comparison in a segment on Wednesday's Today show.) The August 23 CyberAlert recounted: Like feeding raw meat to a lion, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel on Sunday gave television journalists what they wanted and couldn’t resist: A soundbite comparing Iraq to Vietnam when he said on ABC’s This Week that “we are locked into a bogged-down problem, not dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam.” CNN’s Aaron Brown trumpeted at the top of Monday’s NewsNight how “the anti-war voices are not just liberal groups camped out with Cindy Sheehan in Texas, but at least one senior Republican Senator, who has always had questions about the war, but now compares it to a war he fought a generation ago.” On the CBS Evening News, anchor John Roberts played up Hagel’s influence: “What's the White House making of what would seem to be some pretty harsh criticism from a guy who's supposed to be on the President's team?” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams listed a litany of setbacks for Bush on Iraq, ending with how “it doesn't help that a prominent Senator, in his own party, is comparing it to Vietnam.” In the morning on Today, Ann Curry stressed how “a prominent Republican Senator compared the war in Iraq to Vietnam” and Don Teague touted how Bush is “even facing fire from within his own party.” Brian Williams set up the August 23 NBC Nightly News piece: "In Iraq tonight, even though there is a basic framework on a deal for a constitution, there is still a danger the entire process will fall apart and become a mess if the Shiites and Kurds fail to win over the Sunnis who are not on board. That would be a huge blow to the Bush administration. But on the military side at the Pentagon today, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the possibility of civil war and denied that Iraq is in any way another Vietnam. Here with that, NBC News Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski."

Miklaszewski began: "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld himself raised the Vietnam issue at his Pentagon briefing today, claiming the enemy in Iraq, unlike that in Vietnam, does not have strong popular support." Rumsfeld at Pentagon briefing: "Their most prominent leaders are not Iraqis, they're not Ho Chi Minh with a nationalistic base, but in the case of Zarqawi, a Jordanian murderer." Miklaszewski: "Rumsfeld lashed out at critics of the war who predict America's failure in Iraq, but avoided direct criticism of at least one, Senator Chuck Hagel. The prominent Republican and decorated Vietnam veteran said this week, the U.S. is now bogged down in Iraq, similar to Vietnam. Rumsfeld politely disagreed." Rumsfeld: "The differences are so notable that it would take too long to list them." Miklaszewski: "Rumsfeld also tiptoed through the political minefield laid down by anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan, who lost her soldier son in Iraq." Rumsfeld: "One always tries to help those that are grieving understand the importance of what their sons and daughters have been doing." Miklaszewski: "While Rumsfeld empathized with Sheehan in her grief, he firmly rejected her demand to bring American troops home now. But there's increasing concern in the Pentagon that a growing anti-war drumbeat here at home could eventually take a toll on troop morale in Iraq, not at all unlike Vietnam. Today, however, Rumsfeld ignored the latest polls which indicate a majority of Americans now think it was a mistake to go to war in Iraq." [on screen: CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll“Iraq war a mistake?”Yes: 54%] Rumsfeld: "I think it will have the support of the American people, and it will be sustained and we will be successful." Over protest signs, including "Impeach Cheney First," Miklaszewski concluded: "And while there are marked differences between the wars in Iraq and Vietnam, the rhetoric, at least, is beginning to sound much the same. Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News, the Pentagon."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center