The hed isn't snappy, but I'm trying to come up with new slogans for a paper
that can't bring itself to accurately describe Rep. John Murtha.
There's a slim ray of hope from congressional reporter Shailagh Murray, who in a live chat today acknowledged there was more to his background than what we've been reading in her paper:
Why won't the Post tell its readers about Murtha's mixed record on the
Iraq War? For example, he said two years ago that he'd been misled
about WMD and joined with Rep. Pelosi in calling for high-level
administration resignations; he accused Bush of delaying a major
military callup until after the presidential election (a callup that
never happened); he joined a small minority in voting against a
resolution declaring the world safer for having been rid of Saddam; and
voted in favor of Rep. Rangel's (in my view, bogus) resolution to
reinstate the draft. He's entitled to these views -- but aren't the
Post's readers entitled to know about them, as opposed to the simple
"hawkish Democrat" narrative you and your colleagues are presenting?
Chris Matthews has never pretended that he's an unbiased journalist. He's a former aide to Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, Speaker of the House of Representatives during the 1980s. His show, Hardball, developed an audience during the late 1990s, as he was one of the few liberal pundits not to accept the Clinton spin, for the most part, during the scandal-ridden 2nd Clinton term. But he's still a liberal, and he's made some utterly outrageous comments over the border in Canada, as reported in the Toronto Sun.
"The period between 9/11 and Iraq was not a good time for America. There wasn't a robust discussion of what we were doing," Matthews said.
I don't know what he was watching during that 18 month period, but I remember quite a lot of what I'd consider a "robust discussion" of what was happening. The President made his "axis of evil" comments in January of 2002, and the next 14 months were spent clearly headed to a showdown with Iraq. There was discussion in the press. There was discussion in the House of Representatives. There was discussion in the US Senate. There was discussion at the United Nations. There was discussion in print and on the airwaves. I'd wager that there was "robust discussion" on Matthews' own television show.
"If we stop trying to figure out the other side, we've given up. The person on the other side is not evil -- they just have a different perspective."
Who, exactly, does Chris want to say is not evil? Bin Laden? Hussein? Zarqawi? The Taliban? The men who flew the planes into the twin towers? The bombers of the U.S. Cole? The bombers who blew up the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania? The bombers who first went after the twin towers in 1993? Are those not evil acts? Or are they just evidence of a "different perspective?" And if it is just a "different perspective," what difference does it make? Are we not entitled to look upon a perspective that targets the death of countless innocent civilians as "evil?" An embarassing performance from one of the guiding lights of the Washington punditocracy...
This morning’s Good Morning America found symbolism in President Bush’s encounter with a locked door when attempting to leave a press conference. In the opening tease at 7:00 AM, Charlie Gibson said, "No way out. President Bush tries the wrong door on his trip to Asia and has fun for the cameras. But the big question now: Does he have an exit strategy for Iraq?"
Later, Jessica Yellin, reporting from Mongolia, couldn’t let the door incident go. She said, "This wraps up a trip that saw no major accomplishments for the U.S. on key issues, but that did produce a classic and symbolic video moment.
"It happened as Mr. Bush attempted to make his exit after a press conference in China, only there was no way out for the Commander in Chief."
CBS News Iraq correspondent Kimberly Dozier filed a video report only found on the Internet where she declares that "commanders have told us that they're going to have fewer members of the media along with their detection teams as a way to save American lives."
Said the Iraq correspondent:
"Now, when it comes to roadside bombs, I almost don't know what else to say and commanders don't know what else to do. We have almost said it all before and they've tried it all before.
"They have wrapped all of their soldiers in armor when they go out on the streets, soldiers you see now have heavily armored vehicles, they have Kevlar head to toe just about.
The AP on Sunday significantly misrepresented President Bush's public statements on pre-war intelligence. It's not the first time, it won't be the last, and it long ago ceased being surprising. But it is unacceptable journalistic malpractice. This story begins in earnest about a week and a half ago, when after months of being hammered by critics on the left as having "lied," the President finally stood up and addressed the issue of pre-war intelligence. His speech, addressing the reality that he's been constantly under attack for the past two years, represented an attempt to defend himself and his administration. It was, of course, immediately called an "attack" by the Associated Press, and others of their stripe. But they apparently didn't listen to, or read, what he actually said. Otherwise, they'd never have been able to write the following:
After fiercely defending his Iraq policy across Asia, President Bush abruptly toned down his attack on war critics Sunday and said there was nothing unpatriotic about opposing his strategy. "People should feel comfortable about expressing their opinions about Iraq," Bush said, three days after agreeing with Vice President Dick Cheney that the critics were "reprehensible."
The President "abruptly toned down" nothing. In the speech that caused all of the initial uproar, he said the same things. He said "when I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it." He said "it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war." So the comments that the AP is portraying as "abruptly toned down" are the same comments that he made at the time of "his attack on war critics." Those comments are nothing new. There's just another opportunity for the AP to misrepresent the President, and cast him in a negative light. And that's nothing new, either...
This headline from AP yesterday seemed accurate: "Iraq War Criticism Stalks Bush Overseas." But who are the stalkers? It's another way of saying "Reporters Stalk Bush Overseas." They are the black clouds following him everywhere, touting the death toll and his poll ratings for dishonesty in every story. As in this paragraph: "An AP-Ipsos poll earlier this month found a significant drop in the share of Americans saying Bush is honest. Also, with the U.S. death toll now above 2,080 in Iraq, nearly two-thirds of the country disapproves of Bush's conduct of the war." AP reporter Jennifer Loven's first words are "His was policies under siege at home..."
It's good to remember, as Powerline pointed out last year, that Loven is married to an environmentalist advocate who was touted by John Kerry's campaign as a major supporter.
Today’s New York Times featured a Carl Hulse article that depicted the future of the Republican Party as being almost as bright as Alaska for the next several weeks. In Hulse’s view, just about everything that has gone wrong in America in 2005 can be linked to Republicans, while, conversely, in a 27 paragraph piece, there was only one paragraph that suggested any problems for the party on the opposite side of the aisle. Frankly, this article read more like a press release from a political strategist than a column in a leading, national newspaper.
First, Hulse set the stage: “The ugly debate in the House on Friday over the Iraq war served as an emotional send-off for a holiday recess, capturing perfectly the political tensions coursing through the House and Senate in light of President Bush's slumping popularity, serious party policy fights, spreading ethics investigations and the approach of crucial midterm elections in less than a year.”
He then established the goal: “Capitol Hill was always certain to be swept up in brutal political gamesmanship as lawmakers headed into 2006 - the midpoint of this second presidential term and, perhaps, a chance for Democrats to cut into Republican majorities or even seize power in one chamber or the other.”
Then, Hulse enumerated all the Republican shortcomings:
Sunday’s New York Times Magazine features another weekly submission from Randy Cohen, writer of "The Ethicist" column, about a non-political topic -- who should pay for damage done to an office building by a doctor’s patient -- but on Friday’s Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS Cohen made clear his disgust with President Bush. When Ferguson raised Bill Clinton’s name, Cohen reacted with outrage that Ferguson was still concerned about such old news: "Oh, Clinton, he's been out of office for, you know, how long? Seven years. Some little lie about his personal life. We've got a guy now who lied the country into a war. You're talking about Clinton from seven years ago?" Actually, Clinton left office fewer than five years ago. Cohen advised that on Monica Lewinsky “he should have said, 'None of your business' and then after that, it's between him and his wife.”
Cohen’s hostility to President Bush isn’t based on recent events. A MRC CyberAlert item in June of 2003 recounted: “Since President Bush is either a 'liar’ or 'corrupt’ or just plain 'incompetent’ now that his reasons for war with Iraq have all been found to be untrue, the 'ethicist’ columnist for the New York Times wondered on CNN whether Bush can 'honorably’ continue to serve in office.” (Full rundown of those comments, in which he made Aaron Brown seem reasonable, as well as what he said Friday night on CBS, follows.)
Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, in a new article entitled “Bush at the Tipping Point,” joined an expanding list of media representatives that have not only completely ignored statements made by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) concerning his disappointments with the Iraq war that came before his Thursday call for troop withdrawals, but also thoroughly misrepresented the level of support that Murtha gave to the initial war resolution back in October 2002:
“Murtha was the one-man tipping point. Initially a strong supporter of the conflict, he had voted for it and the money to pay for it. But on his last trip to Iraq, he had become convinced not only that the war was unwinnable, but that the continued American military presence was making matters far worse.”
As reported by NewsBusters here, Congressman Murtha first voiced dissent for this war in September 2003, and then again in May 2004. However, maybe most important, the record before the war resolution passed on October 11, 2002 shows Murtha as having initially been against invading Iraq, and only getting onboard when a revised resolution was proposed on October 2. Prior to those revisions authored by Democrats in the House to assuage dissenters like Murtha, the Congressman was quite vocal against an invasion:
Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift, in a new column previewing on MSNBC.com, has finally moved the “Bush lied” debate in a direction that has been highly anticipated: in her view, the alleged misinformation concerning Iraq WMD is equivalent to what President Lyndon Johnson and his Defense Secretary Robert McNamara did in 1964 concerning the Gulf of Tonkin incident:
“There is a parallel with Vietnam in the falsehoods advanced by government to rally congressional support and public opinion for war. Take the ongoing controversy over exactly what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964. Although analysts on the scene radioed back to Washington that there was no cause for alarm, President Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara glossed over doubts about a second attack on American ships and trumpeted the alleged expansion of the war by the North Vietnamese to rally Congress and the American people to escalate a war that had been losing public support. Sen. William Fulbright, one of only two senators to oppose the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, said in a speech on the Senate floor, ‘We will rue this day.’”
On Friday’s Situation Room, 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." 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: "He rarely speaks to the press. When he does, Washington listens. This week, Murtha spoke.”
When Schneider finished his recap of Murtha’s remarks and the reaction to them, Blitzer reminded him and viewers: "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." Schneider agreed: "I think they do." (Complete transcript follows.)
On the Bias by Omission Watch, over at TKS, Jim Geraghty responds to the teen-idol Bill Clinton cover story at Esquire by recounting the more shocking parts of a New Republic story on Clinton yammering at his Global Initiative meeting. Check out what Geraghty bolded:
And, perhaps most striking, in a discussion of climate change, Clinton cast the war on terrorism as a blip on the radar of history: "[W]e have become arrogant in the present. All of us. Osama bin Laden's arrogant in the present. I mean, he really thinks it matters if he blows us up and kicks a few thousand American soldiers out of Saudi Arabia or whatever. And we really think it matters if we blow him up, more than how we all live and how people will be living 100 years from now."
Rep. John Murtha is no Cindy Sheehan, but the Washington Post's inability to do some simple reporting on Murtha's Iraq war record is reminiscent of its limited Lexis-Nexis skills last summer. As I documented at the time, the Post simply ignored Sheehan's wild ravings about President Bush being the biggest war criminal and a lying bastard, about liberal bloggers being the only thing preventing the U.S. from becoming a fascist state, about insurgents being freedom fighters and Iraq having held a sham election, etc., etc.
Now I see a story slated in the Post for Saturday's front page about an excitable evening in the House, which voted 400 million to 3 against an immediate withdrawal from Iraq: House GOP Calls For Vote On Iraq Pullout, by Charles Babington. And here's the nut graf on Murtha:
A night after leading with Democratic Congressman John Murtha's call for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq, Friday's CBS Evening News painted him as a victim of unjust attacks on his “patriotism,” though CBS provided no supporting soundbite of any such accusation, ludicrously insisted he was a “leading supporter” of the war and featured clips of Democrats, including “another decorated veteran whose own patriotism has also been questioned” (that would be John Kerry), who “fired back" at the “personal attacks” on Murtha.
Anchor Bob Schieffer framed the story: “When Pennsylvania's hawkish Democratic Congressman John Murtha said yesterday the time had come to withdraw our forces, Republicans accused him of wanting to cut and run, and all but challenged the patriotism of war critics.” Reporter Bob Orr began with the ridiculous assumption that Murtha “had been one of the leading supporters of the war in Iraq." In fact, as my Thursday night NewsBusters item detailing CBS's coverage noted, in May of 2004 Murtha proclaimed that “we cannot prevail in this war at the policy that's going today.'' (NewsBuster's Noel Sheppard here, and Tim Graham here, dug out other instances of Murtha's hostility to the war going back to 2003.)
Orr proceeded to assert that “the White House turned its guns on the Democratic hawk, comparing him to a left-wing filmmaker,” Michael Moore. “Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert piled on,” Orr added before quoting Hastert and then painting Democrats as the aggrieved party: “But Democrats, angered by what they saw as personal attacks, fired back." Orr featured Senator Carl Levin denouncing the “smear” of Murtha and how “another decorated veteran whose own patriotism has also been questioned went even further." Viewers then heard from Senator John Kerry: "It frankly disgusts me that a bunch of guys who never chose to put on the uniform of their country...” Orr them empathetically relayed Murtha's view that “the war has been mishandled, and people have had enough,” before he ended by showcasing a Republican to illustrate how “name-calling exploded in the House." (Complete transcript follows.)
As recounted in my Thursday NewsBusters item, on that evening's World News Tonight, in setting up the lead story about Congressman John Murtha's call for troop withdrawal from Iraq, anchor Bob Woodruff “distorted President Bush's comments in Asia as he insisted Bush 'took every chance he could to say that people who question his rationale for going to war in Iraq are not only wrong, but irresponsible and unpatriotic.'” On Friday's World News Tonight, Woodruff backtracked: “A clarification about a report that we aired last night in our coverage of the ongoing debate about the original case for war and the Democratic allegations that the White House misled the American public. We reported that the President was calling such charges 'irresponsible' and 'unpatriotic.' He did say they are 'irresponsible.' He did not call them 'unpatriotic.'”
Tonight, the Newsweek web site is topped by a picture of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) with the words superimposed: "WHY JOHN MURTHA IS RIGHT: It's time to stop deluding ourselves on Iraq." The commentary by longtime Newsweek foreign correspondent Christopher Dickey begins with his attempt to buttonhole war architect Paul Wolfowitz on the war's aftermath, but he's unsatisfied. Bushies are ideologues unlike anti-war liberals like Dickey:
"So the big mistake in Mesopotamia, it would seem, was not following the grand plans of the best and the brightest who took us to war there in 2003. Others failed, not they. And maybe the armchair war-lovers of the Bush administration really believe this. Ideologues see the world through different lenses than ordinary people. From their perches in government or academe, they like to imagine themselves riding the waves of great historical forces. Faced with criticism, they point fingers at their enemies like Old Testament prophets and call down the wrath of heaven.
An Italian film crew claims that the US military indiscriminantly blanketed civilians in Fallujah with the white phosphorus during last year's assault on the city. The Denver Postpicks up the Colorado angle on the white phosphorus non-story, and while it impeaches the credibility of the film's star witness, it buries the lead, and leaves most of the background fabrications intact.
Here's the big news. The "witness," Jeff Englehart, can only claim to know that 1) white phosphorus was used in the attack, and 2) someone inside the city got caught in it:
Englehart said Thursday that some of his statements were taken out of context. He maintained that he believes white phosphorus killed civilians, though he never saw anyone burned by it while in Fallujah.
As my fellow newsbusters have pointed out the media has incorrectly portrayed John Murtha as a new anti-war convert war and this morning's Today show was no different. In the 7:00am hour of Today David Gregory acted as if Murtha had just changed his mind on the war yesterday:
David Gregory: "Back home on Thursday one of Congress's most hawkish Democrats, John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a Vietnam veteran who voted for the war abruptly changed his stand."
After Gregory's piece Katie Couric used Murtha's speech to hit White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace with Today's Theme of the Week: Even War Supporters Oppose Bush The following are all of Couric's questions to Wallace:
Katie Couric: "Nicolle Wallace is the White House Communications Director. Ms. Wallace good morning to you."
Add the Los Angeles Times to the list of media outlets trumpeting an incomplete portrait of Rep. John Murtha's announcement yesterday.
Splashed across page one, above the fold, of today's Times is a largecolor photo of Murtha (see it) next to the headline, Democratic Hawk and War Veteran Wants U.S. Troops Out of Iraq Now."
The title of the caption in the color photo is "About-face," and the article itself also references an "about-face" by Murtha, even though Murtha began expressing criticism of the Bush administration's handling of Iraq within six months after the invasion, as documented by this Noel Sheppard Newsbusters post and this Tim Graham Newsbusters post (in reference to Murtha's 2004 Ted Koppel appearence).
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.
Rep. John Murtha's anti-war pessimism leads Friday's New York Times, but criticizing the war isn't new for the "conservative" congressman.
"Fast Withdrawal Of G.I.'s Is Urged By Key Democrat" is the headline to Eric Schmitt's story:
"The partisan furor over the Iraq war ratcheted up sharply on Capitol Hill on Thursday, as an influential House Democrat on military matters called for the immediate withdrawal of American troops and Republicans escalated their attacks against the Bush administration's critics....'Our military has done everything that has been asked of them. It is time to bring them home,' Mr. Murtha said, at times choking back tears. Mr. Murtha's proposal, which goes well beyond the phased withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq that other moderate Democrats have proposed, stunned many Republicans who quickly held their own news conference to criticize the plan."
Between the lead story on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 Thursday night from Joe Johns on Democratic Congressman John Murtha’s call for withdrawing troops from Iraq and a piece by Candy Crowley on Bush and Cheney striking back at their war critics, Cooper read a statement from White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan comparing Murtha with Michael Moore. Cooper followed that with a retort from Moore himself released “exclusively to CNN.” Cooper read how McClellan asserted that given Murtha’s past support for a “strong America,” it “is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party.” After finishing his recitation of McClellan’s statement, Cooper hyped how “just moments ago Michael Moore released this statement exclusively to CNN.” With the text on screen, Cooper relayed the comment from the far-left filmmaker: “'Unfortunately, the President doesn't understand that it is mainstream middle America who has turned against him and his immoral war, and that it is I and the Democrats who represent the mainstream. It is Mr. Bush who is the extremist.'" (Screen text of rest of Moore's claim follows.)
As reported by the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker, the network evening news broadcasts tonight all lead with Congressman John Murtha’s (D-Penn.) call for the removal of American troops from Iraq. Yet, they seemed disinterested in focusing much attention on Rep. Murtha's “denouncement” of the Iraq war more than a year ago. (Please see a May 10, 2004 CNN story stating, “Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, in a news conference with Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said the problems in Iraq are due to a ‘lack of planning’ by Pentagon chiefs and ‘the direction has got be changed or it is unwinnable.’") Maybe most important, the networks totally ignored the fact that Rep. Murtha has been expressing disgust with the Bush administration’s prosecution of this war since six months after it started.
Rep. Murtha first voiced his displeasure with how things were going in Iraq on September 16, 2003, when he called for the immediate firing of President Bush’s defense leadership team. The network news organizations this evening chose not to inform their viewers of this, and, instead, implied that Rep. Murtha was a "hawk" that has always supported this war, and that his statements today were recent revelations.
Quite the contrary, the New York Times reported on September 17, 2003 (link courtesy of Common Dreams.org):
Rep. John Murtha is getting a second round of liberal media gravitas for opposing the Iraq War after he voted for it. Brent Baker just noted the May 7, 2004 CyberAlert, where Koppel used Murtha and former Reagan official William Odom (whom he later acknowledged opposed the war before it occurred), as grist for his question of the day (or every day): "Tonight, Hanging in the Balance: Is Iraq an unwinnable war?"
In fact, Koppel liked Murtha's pessimistic stance so much, he devoted the entire May 10, 2004 Nightline to an exclusive interview with the pessimist. One choice exchange came in the discussion of whether Defense Secretary Rumsfeld should resign, or if he's responsible for prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib:
Though more than a year ago Democratic Congressman John Murtha denounced the Iraq war, asserting that “we cannot prevail in this war at the policy that's going today,'' on Thursday night ABC, CBS and NBC all led by championing Murtha's call for the immediate withdrawal of troops and showcased his ridicule of Vice President Cheney's lack of military service. “On military matters, no Democrat in Congress is more influential,” CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer asserted in bucking up Murtha's credentials at the top of his newscast, insisting therefore “all of Washington listened” to him. The media certainly did. With the text on screen, Schieffer soon highlighted how Murtha “noted the Vice President had never served in the military and said, and I quote, 'I like guys who got five deferments and had never been there, then send people to war and don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.'” Schieffer asked John Roberts: “So, in this kind of situation, the White House has got to be worried about, because this is clearly a sign that support for the war is beginning to fade on Capitol Hill."
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams teased: “The war of words over Iraq. Tonight a key Democratic supporter in Congress says it's time to get out, while the White House steps up its attacks on critics.” Williams led by touting: “When one Congressman out of 435 members of Congress speaks out against the war in Iraq, it normally wouldn't be news, but it was today, because of who he is. Congressman John Murtha, a Vietnam veteran....Today, John Murtha said the U.S. must get out of Iraq. It's a debate that has followed President Bush halfway around the world.”
“An influential Democrat who supported the war says American troops should come home now," anchor Bob Woodruff trumpeted at the top of ABC's World News Tonight. Woodruff distorted President Bush's comments in Asia as he insisted Bush “took every chance he could to say that people who question his rationale for going to war in Iraq are not only wrong, but irresponsible and unpatriotic.” ABC's new White House reporter, Martha Raddatz, then claimed that “a visibly perturbed President called Democrats 'irresponsible' for continuing to criticize his administration's use of pre-war intelligence." And Raddatz highlighted how “Murtha ripped into the Vice President, taking aim at his lack of military service." In fact, Bush and Cheney are upset about being charged with “lying” to get the nation into a war, not at general criticism. ABC gave Cheney barely 30 seconds, but devoted more than 90 seconds to a “1st Person” excerpt from Murtha. (Full transcripts follow.)
[UPDATE, 8:50pm EST Friday: On Friday night Woodruff offered “a clarification about” his claim Bush called his critics “unpatriotic.” Woodruff reported: “He did say they are 'irresponsible.' He did not call them 'unpatriotic.'” See this Friday NewsBusters item for the entirety of Woodruff's correction.]
The lead story today is Rep. John Murtha's call for US troops to be pulled out of Iraq. The media is trumpeting this as a huge blow to the Bush Administration since Murtha was one of the Democrat's "hawks". According to the AP:
"Murtha's shift from an early war backer to a critic advocating withdrawal reflects plummeting public support for a war that has cost more than $200 billion and led to the deaths of more than 2,000 U.S. troops."
According to an article in Roll Call from May 6, 2004, Murtha's bring them home now stance is nothing new.
There are two absolutely extraordinary aspects of this story. One is that Bill Clinton, a former President of the United States, offered the “good German” defense of the murderers, torturers, and rapists who worked for Saddam Hussein, and he did so on foreign soil. Equally extraordinary, however, is the fact that only Newsmax.com, and an on-line publication called Village Soup in Maine, bothered to report this comment. Here is the quote:
"When [the U.S.] kicked out Saddam, they decided to dismantle the whole authority structure," Clinton told an audience at American University in Dubai. "Most of the people who were part of that structure were good, decent people who were making the best out of a very bad situation," he added.
The White House is counterattacking anti-war critics charging that "Bush lied" us into Iraq, and Elisabeth Bumiller files a short piece showing the vice president has joined in ("Cheney Says Senate War Critics Make 'Reprehensible Charges'"). Cheney was speaking to a Frontiers of Freedom gathering in Washington when he said those accusing Bush of manipulating war intelligence were making "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city."
The updated, online version of Bumiller's article claims:
"In his speech, Mr. Cheney echoed the argument of Mr. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in the past week that Democrats had access to the same prewar intelligence that the White House did, and that they came to the same conclusion that Mr. Hussein was a threat. The administration, however, had access to far more extensive intelligence than Congress did. The administration also left unaddressed the question of how it had used that intelligence, which was full of caveats, subtleties and contradictions. Many Democrats now say they believe they had been misled by the administration in the way it presented the prewar intelligence."
The headline, “US Has Detained 83,000 in War on Terror”, greeted me when I logged on the Internet on Wed. Nov. 16 after lunch. I was stunned. Where were all the prisoners being held? Was this another leak from the CIA? I clicked on the link without thinking twice.
Surprise, Surprise – another AP story extolling the negatives from Iraq. Another day, another negative story from the AP.
The article opens with the statement “The United States has detained more than 83,000 foreigners in the four years of the war on terror, enough to nearly fill the NFL’s largest stadium”. Since when do we equate the war on terror and terrorists with the size of football stadiums? I have yet to see an article where the writer compared the number of Coalition soldiers and Iraqi civilians killed by the terrorists in Iraq to the capacity of a sports arena. I was at a loss trying to understand why such a comparison was necessary or appropriate.