CBS’s “The Early Show” began this morning’s program with Congressman John Murtha’s (D-Penn) call for the removal of American troops from Iraq yesterday (video link to follow). Much like the way the networks ignored Rep. Murtha’s past statements against the war in their evening news broadcasts yesterday, Rene Syler began the segment by referring to him as “an influential Democratic congressman with close ties to the military.” Bill Plante called him “a pro-defense Democrat who voted for the war.” Once again, no reference to Murtha having changed his view of the Iraq war back in September 2003 as reported by NewsBusters here.
Plante, while not suggesting that Murtha’s statements yesterday were at all partisan, referred to the White House’s response as “sharply partisan.” In addition, Plante positioned the announcement of a proposed South Korean reduction of troops in Iraq as a “polite protest” of the war by that country, “a decision the White House insisted wasn’t final.” Yet, Plante’s own network is reporting at its website: “The Defense Ministry said it plans to include the troop reduction plan when it seeks parliamentary approval for extending the deployment in Iraq, as it is required to do each year.” As such, it isn’t final.
What follows is a full transcript of this report, and a video link.
Rene Syler: An influential Democratic congressman with close ties to the military says U.S. troops in Iraq have done their duty, and now it's time for them to come home. But Republicans are calling that surrender. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, is traveling with the president in South Korea, and he has more. Bill, good morning.
Bill Plante: Rene, good morning to you. The president may be 7,000 miles from home, but the bitter battle with Democrats over the war in Iraq continues to escalate. Now with an impassioned call from congressional Vietnam vet John Murtha to bring the troops home.
Murtha: This war has been so mishandled from the very start. Not only was the intelligence bad. The way he disbanded the troops. There’s all kinds of mistakes that have been made.
Plante: Murtha, a pro defense Democrat who voted for the war was bitter at Republican attacks on critics of administration policy.
Murtha: This is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public knows it. And lashing out at critics doesn't help a bit.
Plante: The White House hit back with a sharply partisan statement, calling it “Baffling that Murtha is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party,” adding that, “this is not the time to surrender to the terrorists.” President Bush, meeting with Russia's Putin about North Korea and Iran had nothing more to say about the politics of the war. But on the streets near the trade conference, police used water cannons to control several thousand demonstrators protesting both the war and global trade policy. And the South Koreans had a more polite protest of their own, blindsiding the U.S. with a plan to pull about a third of their country's 3200 troops out of Iraq, a decision the White House insisted wasn't final. Whether it is the shrinking support of the allies or the shrinking support in Congress, it's clear that Iraq remains the administration's biggest problem. And the White House is just as intent on fighting the war for public opinion at home as it is the war on the battlefield in Iraq. Rene.
Syler: All right. CBS's Bill Plante in South Korea. Bill, thanks.