CBS’s Smith ‘Regrets’ Not Speaking Out Against Iraq War
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen read some viewer email, including a question from one woman who asked: "Would you be willing to jeopardize your job to report something your bosses or the government wanted to keep hidden?" Co-host Harry Smith used the question as an opportunity to voice his opposition to the Iraq war:
You know, I remember being in Iraq before the war started, we were there just a couple of -- a couple of weeks before the war started and it came, it was really, really clear to me on the ground that this didn't make any sense. And I remember coming back, but there was all this sort of preponderance of opinion that this -- this thing should go on. And I kept thinking to myself, 'this doesn't -- there's -- I'm not connecting the dots everybody else is connecting.' And if I have a regret in my reporting life that I didn't stand up then and say, 'this doesn't make any sense.'
While Smith may not have expressed outright opposition to the Iraq war early on, just days after the invasion in March of 2003, he was very sympathetic to then-Democratic Senator and war critic Tom Dashcle: "You were under a certain amount of criticism especially directly from the White House as the day before the war actually began you talked about the failure of diplomacy. Did you feel along the way, and especially in the hours after that, that some Republicans were actually questioning your patriotism?"
Chen agreed with Smith’s assessment and backed up his assertions, declaring: "Yeah, I remember, I was there, also, and I asked, I'm blanking on his name now, ooh, he was in command there at CENTCOM, and I said -- he said 'connect the dots, connect the dots,' I said 'connect them for me. I can't connect them.'" Smith replied: "Yeah...Well, that's sad."
Co-host Russ Mitchell also replied to the viewer email, explaining: "I think it's a little more complicated. The government, Yes. Well, your boss is a different -- because we have a system of checks and balances here. You have to have at least one champion before you can just put something on television." Apparently that’s how stories like how to feng shui your home for pets get on the air while little attention is paid to the Supreme Court overturning the Washington D.C. gun ban.