Murtha CNN’s “Play of the Week,” Blitzer Suggests Murtha the Cronkite of Iraq War

<img vspace="0" hspace="0" border="0" align="right" src="/media/2005-11-18-CNNTSRPlay2.jpg" />On Friday’s <i>Situation Room</i>, CNN’s Bill Schneider awarded Congressman John Murtha his “Play of the Week,” and after Schneider’s piece host Wolf Blitzer suggested the call by Murtha, “a very moderate conservative” (whatever that is), to withdraw troops is reminiscent of CBS anchor Walter Cronkite’s 1968 assertion the U.S. was losing in Vietnam, and so Republicans “probably realize they’ve got some serious problems.&quot; Schneider explained his pick: “In 1968, Walter Cronkite returned from Vietnam and told Americans that, in his opinion, the Vietnam War had become a stalemate. That was a turning point. Now, it's too early to tell whether what happened this week was a turning point in Iraq, but it certainly was the political 'Play of the Week.'” Schneider played up Murtha’s influence: &quot;He rarely speaks to the press. When he does, Washington listens. This week, Murtha spoke.”<br /><br />When Schneider finished his recap of Murtha’s remarks and the reaction to them, Blitzer reminded him and viewers: &quot;Bill, you’ll remember what President Johnson said when he heard what Walter Cronkite had said at that point, after coming back from Vietnam. He said if he’s lost Walter Cronkite, he’s probably lost the country. And I suppose that some Republicans are saying now if they’ve lost John Murtha, a very moderate conservative Democrat, a strong supporter of the military, they, they probably realize they’ve got some serious problems.&quot; Schneider agreed: &quot;I think they do.&quot; (Complete transcript follows.)<br /><br />
<!--break-->The MRC’s Megan McCormack caught the story and exchange from about 4:42 pm EST in the first hour of the November 18 edition of <i>The Situation Room</i> on CNN.<br /><blockquote>Wolf Blitzer, at CNN’s Washington, DC studio: &quot;With each passing day, this week politicians seemed to take their arguments over Iraq to a new, more explosive level. But one shot stood out above all the others. Let’s bring in our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. Bill?&quot;<br /><br />Bill Schneider, from a remote location: &quot;Wolf, in 1968, Walter Cronkite returned from Vietnam and told Americans that, in his opinion, the Vietnam War had become a stalemate. That was a turning point. Now, it’s too early to tell whether what happened this week was a turning point in Iraq, but it certainly was the political 'Play of the Week.’ Congressman John Murtha was the first Vietnam veteran to serve in Congress. He’s a staunch defender of the military. He rarely speaks to the press. When he does, Washington listens. This week, Murtha spoke.&quot;<br /><br />Representative John Murtha, at his Thursday press conference: &quot;The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It’s time to bring the troops home.&quot;<br /><br />Schneider: &quot;Murtha went to Iraq and found–&quot;<br /><br />Murtha: &quot;Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. That Iraq cannot be won militarily.&quot;<br /><br />Schneider: &quot;He concluded–&quot;<br /><br />Murtha: &quot;This is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.&quot;<br /><br />Schneider: &quot;The White House accused Murtha of wanting to surrender to the terrorists. Republican members of Congress went on the attack, saying U.S. troops–&quot;<br /><br />Representative John Carter: &quot;They do not deserve to have people bail out on them and, and take the cowardly way out.&quot;<br /><br />Schneider: &quot;Jack Murtha, who earned two purple hearts, a Bronze Star, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, has his own vision of cowardly.&quot;<br /><br />Murtha: &quot;I like guys who got five deferments and never been there, and send people to war, and then don’t like to hear suggestions about what need to be done.&quot;<br /><br />Schneider: &quot;Murtha described a father stroking the hand of his comatose son who couldn’t get a Purple Heart, because he was wounded by friendly fire.&quot;<br /><br />Murtha: &quot;I said, if you don’t give him a purple heart, I’ll give him one of mine.&quot;<br /><br />Schneider: &quot;We’ll give Mr. Murtha our political 'Play of the Week.’ Speaker Dennis Hastert said Representative Murtha favors a policy of cut and run. In 1966, Senator George Akin of Vermont offered this recommendation for what the U.S. should do in Vietnam, quote, ‘declare victory and go home.’ Wolf?&quot;<br /><br />Blitzer: &quot;And Bill, you’ll remember what President Johnson said when he heard what Walter Cronkite had said at that point, after coming back from Vietnam. He said if he’s lost Walter Cronkite, he’s probably lost the country. And I suppose that some Republicans are saying now if they’ve lost John Murtha, a very moderate conservative Democrat, a strong supporter of the military, they, they probably realize they’ve got some serious problems.&quot;<br /><br />Schneider: &quot;I think they do.&quot;</blockquote>

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