CBS’s 60 Minutes to Extol John Murtha in Piece by Iraq War Opponent Mike Wallace

The media’s idolizing of Democratic Congressman John Murtha, who in November advocated withdrawing from Iraq, will continue on Sunday’s 60 Minutes, which will feature a segment on him and his supposedly prescient forecast that most troops will soon leave Iraq, by Mike Wallace, a journalist who has already made clear that he shares Murtha’s view of the war. In late November on FNC, Wallace contended that "Iraq is becoming a kind of Vietnam" and asserted that "we should never have gone into Iraq. We were sold a bill of goods." Back in 2004 at a Smithsonian forum, Wallace argued that “this is not, in my estimation, a good war” and declared that “it sure is not a noble enterprise.'"

Previewing, on Friday's CBS Evening News the Sunday 60 Minutes segment, Wallace bucked up Murtha’s credibility by touting how he “is a decorated veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He was a Marine for 37 years, knows a lot about the military, been a Congressman for 32 years, so he knows a bit about politics, too.” And “based on all of that, he told us that most American troops will be out of Iraq a lot sooner than we think." The brief excerpt from the Sunday 60 Minutes piece focused on Murtha’s prediction that by the end of the year the “vast majority” of troops will be out of Iraq. Wallace relayed: “Murtha told us that mounting pressure from constituents in this election year will force the Congress to pass his withdrawal plan or something like it to bring the troops home." I’d bet the full 13-14 minute version on Sunday night, which is previewed on CBSNews.com, will include a lot more admiration for Murtha and his cause. (Transcripts of the CBS Evening News story, as well as Wallace’s comments about Iraq, follow.)

Past Wallace remarks about Iraq:

# On the November 28 O’Reilly Factor, as recounted in a NewsBusters posting, Wallace contended that “Iraq is becoming a kind of Vietnam” and asserted that “we should never have gone into Iraq. We were sold a bill of goods.” Wallace, however, suggested Bush may not really have been in charge and thus may not be to blame: “Now, whether the President was sold a bill of goods or whether Dick Cheney was sitting in the chair at that time, I don't know.”

# The June 1, 2004 MRC CyberAlert recounted, with an accompanying RealPlayer clip [click here to launch streaming ram file], how “Mike Wallace, at a Smithsonian Institution ‘National World War II Reunion’ event on Friday [May 28] shown later by C-SPAN, denounced the war in Iraq. ‘This is not, in my estimation, a good war,’ Wallace declared a panel event, on ‘World War II veterans as journalists,’ held in a tent on the Capitol end of Mall the afternoon before the dedication of the World War II Memorial. ‘I don’t know how we got into a position where our present Commander-in-Chief and the people around him,’ the 60 Minutes correspondent lamented, ‘had the guts to take our kids and send them on what seems to be -- it sure is not a noble enterprise.’”


The MRC’s Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video of the January 13 CBS Evening News. Mike Wallace in the opening teaser: "Could most U.S. troops be out of Iraq by the end of this year? This influential Congressman says yes. I'm Mike Wallace."
Bob Schieffer introduced the subsequent story: "Democratic Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania set off a major debate on Capitol Hill last November when he called for pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq. Well, in an interview for Sunday's edition of 60 Minutes, he tells Mike Wallace he believes most of those troops will be out of Iraq in a matter of months. Mike joins us now. Mike, why does he believe that?"

Mike Wallace, at the anchor desk: "Well, Bob, as you know, John Murtha is a decorated veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He was a Marine for 37 years, knows a lot about the military, been a Congressman for 32 years, so he knows a bit about politics, too. Based on all of that, he told us that most American troops will be out of Iraq a lot sooner than we think."

Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), in taped interview with Wallace: "I think the vast majority will be out by the end of the year, and I'm hopeful they'll be out sooner than that."

Wallace: "Vast majority by the end of-?"

Murtha: "I think so."

Clip of protesters: "Bring the troops home!"

Wallace: "And here's how he says it will happen. Murtha told us that mounting pressure from constituents in this election year will force the Congress to pass his withdrawal plan or something like it to bring the troops home.”

Wallace to Murtha: “Are you going to press for a new debate on Iraq in this session of Congress?"

Murtha: “I think you'll see not only debate, I think you'll see some changes."

Wallace: "And is the Congress going to insist upon a major withdrawal from Iraq before Election Day in November?"

Murtha: "Sure. We're going to see a plan for withdrawal."

Wallace: "How do you get that plan through the Congress and impose a withdrawal plan on President Bush?"

Murtha: "I think the political people who give him advice will say to him, 'You don't want a Democratic Congress, you want to keep the Republican majority, and the only way you're going to keep it is by reducing substantially the troops in Iraq.'"

Wallace, back at the anchor desk: "The President hasn't gotten that message yet. Last Tuesday, he said that any decisions he makes about withdrawing troops, quote, 'will be based on conditions on the ground,' and not what he called 'artificial timetables set by Washington politicians.' Well, the President has painted Murtha as a defeatist, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Peter Pace, says Murtha's comments are hurting recruitment and soldiers' morale."


Earlier NewsBusters items I’ve posted about the media’s infatuation with Murtha:

November 17: “Nets Lead With Murtha, Highlight His Ridicule of Cheney's Lack of Military Service”

November 18: “CBS Portrays Murtha as Victim of Unfair Attacks, Insists His ‘Patriotism Questioned’”

November 18: “Michael Moore Goes ‘Exclusively’ to CNN Where Cooper Trumpets His Bush Attack”

November 19: “Murtha CNN’s ‘Play of the Week,’ Blitzer Suggests Murtha the Cronkite of Iraq War”

November 29: “Broadcast Nets, Which Led With Murtha, Ignore Lieberman”

January 3: “Nightline Coddles Murtha & Treats Him as Sage Hero After ABC Had Castigated Cheney”
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