On the day of the running of the final leg of the Triple Crown, we've got a new leader in the Wackiest Zarqawi-Take Stakes. The new favorite in the kooky conspiracy derby is far from a colt. Galloping ghosts! It's De-Frosted Anti-Vietnam War Man and battle-hardened Jane Fonda veteran Tom Hayden. His winning notion? That Zarqawi might really have been our guy in Iraq.
In thisHuffington Post piece, Hayden tries to give himself cover by stating "I have no reason to believe Zarqawi was an [American] agent," but then immediately goes on to contradict himself, darkly musing:
As I noted yesterday, while most Americans were celebrating the military success that killed the most wanted terrorist in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, there were still some in the media trying to spin the development in a negative light. That trend continued on the CBS "Evening News" with Bob Schieffer last evening. In one segment, Schieffer interviewed two critics of the war in Iraq, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and CBS News Analyst Michael Scheuer. Scheuer had also appeared earlier in the day on "The Early Show."
Schieffer focused on Friedman first, inquiring what Friedman thought about the development:
Bin Laden Far More Difficult to Find than Zarqawi, Officials say
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Although the U.S. military located and killed the
most wanted terrorist in Iraq, finding Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden
remains a tougher task, officials and analysts said Thursday....
There has been some buzz in the email this morning about a question Pam Hess of UPI asked General William Caldwell in a briefing this morning. In her question, Hess referred to those who died in the air strike that killed the most wanted man in Iraq, including Abu Musab al Zarqawi himself, as victims. Her full question was:
"General, this is Pam Hess of UPI. What's going to happen to Zarqawi's body after the autopsy? Does it get returned to Jordan to his family? And do you have anything on the identity of the others killed in the strike? And was it 6 victims including Zarqawi or was it 7?"
A legitimate question, however, her word choice is unfortunate. Let us remember the true victims are the ones who were savagely murdered by Zarqawi and his network of thugs. Zarqawi and his associates killed along with him, are not victims here, rather, they are the recipients of justice.
Washington Post culture critic Philip Kennicott has filed a series of essays for the Style section about images of the war in Iraq, like the images out of Abu Ghraib. He lowered the boom today on the insensitive louts who framed a picture of dead Zarqawi. The headline: "A Chilling Portrait, Unsuitably Framed." Kennicott found the framed picture "bizarre." He lamented that the reaction was cheers from the war supporters, and intimidation of the anti-war crowd, that they had to cheer, too. Kennicott couldn't really bring himself to do much of that. He predicted, unlike the Abu Ghraib images, that this image would not be historical:
So will this image, given a strange dignity by its prominent frame, be a defining image of the war? Not likely. Its primary function is forensic. It proves, in an age of skepticism (heightened by a three-year history of official claims about the war turning out to be false), that Zarqawi is indeed dead. But beyond that, the image has little power. Indeed, as with so many images in this war, it is loaded with the potential to backfire.
If Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and all of al Qaeda’s leaders in Iraq and throughout the world laid down their arms and surrendered to American forces, would the media report it as good news?
Judging from the initial press reaction to the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq by the American military on Wednesday, the answer appears to be no.
In fact, this tepid response to the death of the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq – a man who has at times in the past couple of years been depicted as more vital to this terrorist network than the currently in-hiding bin Laden – suggests quite disturbingly that America’s media are fighting a different war than America’s soldiers.
According to NewsBusters, CNN’s senior editor for Arab affairs Octavia Nasr said the following about Zarqawi’s death on “American Morning” Thursday:
"Some people say it will enrage the insurgency, others say it will hurt it pretty bad. But if you think about the different groups in Iraq, you have to think that Zarqawi's death is not going to be a big deal for them."
However, CNN didn’t always feel that Zarqawi’s death or capture would be so inconsequential. Just days after Saddam Hussein was found in his spider hole, Paula Zahn brought CNN national correspondent Mike Boettcher on to discuss a new threat in Iraq. Zahn began the December 15, 2003 segment:
It really has been fascinating to watch the left-wing hysteria this week over Ann Coulter’s new book “Godless: The Church of Liberalism.” Of course, from a publicity standpoint, Coulter must be thrilled about all the free attention these folks have given her.
Yet, maybe the most telling example of liberal disgust with Coulter came from Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois) who actually took some time on the House floor to discuss his outrage over this book. In his minute-plus diatribe, he referred to Coulter as a “hatemonger.” Emanuel even likened Coulter to terrorists stating that, “The hate she spews is the same kind of hatred we're battling in the war on terror.”
Emanuel concluded by chastising Republicans for not speaking against the conservative author asking, “Does Ann Coulter speak for you?"
What follows is a transcript of this speech, and a video link, both courtesy of Crooks and Liars.
Well, yes, actually, although you wouldn't know it from this morning's addition to the "Yes, but" Chorus from the Rocky.
The al-Qaida leader's demise has given the Iraqi people "a lot of hope and optimism," said Joe Rice, a former Glendale mayor and Army reservist who recently completed his second tour in Iraq.
Joe Rice is also running as a Democrat to succeed Joe Stengel in the Colorado House's 38th District. Should our friend Matt Dunn win the Republican nomination, this is the guy he'll be going up against.
On March 18, the Rocky ran both an op-ed by Rice, and an editorial referencing that op-ed, and neither mentioned Rice's candidacy for the House 38th.
I'm on a quick strike down to NYC today to attend a talk radio convention.
And speaking of quick strikes, Matt Lauer launched one at Karen Hughes on this morning's 'Today.' Hughes, who serves as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, was on to discuss US relations in the Arab world in the, ahem, wake of the killing of Zarqawi.
At the end of the interview, Lauer hit Hughes with this 21/2-month old quote from Donald Rumsfeld:
"If I were grading, I would say we probably deserve a D or a D-plus as a country as to how well we’re doing in the battle of ideas that’s taking place in the world today. And I’m not going to suggest that it’s easy, but we have not found the formula as a country."
On a day when many in America are rejoicing at the death of the most wanted man in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a man who is responsible for countless deaths in Iraq and who made it his mission to spark civil war, CBS brought in a long time Bush administration critic to discuss its implications on this morning's "Early Show." Co-host Harry Smith, utilizing spin that would make "Baghdad Bob" jealous, attempted to portray Zarqawi’s death as being bad news for America, and his guest, CBS News Terrorism Analyst Michael Scheuer, was happy to back his assertions even going so far as to claim Zarqawi’s death was good for Al Qaeda.
As they do every weekday at noon, CNN’s American viewers were switched over to the CNN International network’s “Your World Today,” a show so far to the left that it makes the rest of CNN look like a Norman Rockwell tribute to the greatness of America. Today, during coverage of the U.S. military’s successful elimination of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the CNNI caption referred to him as a “top Iraqi insurgent.”
Al-Zarqawi, as everyone (including CNN's foreign bureaus?) surely knows by now, was not an Iraqi, but a Jordanian who spent most of the past three years instigating the deaths of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, police and civilians. Was CNNI trying to falsely paint the self-appointed leader of “Al Qaeda in Iraq” as some sort of nationalist freedom fighter, or are they just sloppy with their choice of words? Either way, it seems like an insult to the people of Iraq to have their worst foreign enemy listed as one of their own.
Reporter Dexter Filkins has an exceedingly strange take on the death by air strike of terrorist leader Zarqawi, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis: “By finally eliminating Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the American military and its Iraqi allies have killed the man who put a face on the Iraqi insurgency. The question now looming over Mr. Zarqawi's death is how large a blow it deals to the guerrilla movement he helped drive to such bloody limits.
The MRC has been following the media’s reaction to the death of terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi all day. Much of the coverage has been focused on downplaying the significance of the event. Now we have a new angle. MSNBC anchor Milissa Rehberger hosted First Look, the early morning coverage of Zarqawi’s death. At 5:45AM EDT, in an attempt to give her audience a full picture, this is how she described the life of a brutal murderer:
Milissa Rehberger: " I just want to take a pause for just a second to bring everyone up to date on who Abu Musab al Zarqawi really was, other then the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in an air strike this morning. We are told that he had a troubled childhood where he grew up in Jordan, that he dropped out of high school, that when he was 20-years-old, he went to Afghanistan and joined Al Qaeda."
When President Bush spoke live on the networks around 7:30 AM Eastern this morning, NBC News packaged its coverage as a "Special Report," meaning its NBC affiliates in the Central, Mountain, and Pacific time zones that hadn't started airing "Today" yet were showing this segment. The report ended only after Lauer had exchanged the latest liberal conventional wisdom with Tim Russert, appearing from the West Coast, who was pouring out pitchers of cold water.
Will it change things? "Probably not." Russert highlighted a piece of conversation with a White House aide cautioning that one day's euphoria over the capture of Saddam didn't change much. (Left out of that: whether Russert prodded the aide into saying it.) The "sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites continues, and, almost like clinging to a life preserver, that we've learned "things can turn dramatically worse in Iraq...within a moment's notice."
This is a great moral victory for the USA. We have eliminated one of the most active and high profile Al Qaeda terrorists in operation today. Yet, some in the MSM are already downplaying this victory and attempting to make it seem as if this is no big deal. We have already seen several of these instances recorded right here on Newsbusters, so I will not rehash them here.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most-wanted terrorist in Iraq who waged a bloody campaign of beheadings and suicide bombings, was killed when U.S. warplanes dropped 500-pound bombs on his isolated safehouse, officials said Thursday.
It would have been more correct for the AP to report:
“…when U. S. warplanes dropped 500-pound bombs on what al-Zarqawi thought was his isolated safehouse.”
Anyway, well done and thanks to everyone who helped take out al-Zarqawi.
In May of 2004, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi participated in the beheading of Nicholas Berg, a businessman working in Iraq. His father, Michael, emerged in the aftermath of that crime as an outspoken liberal activist and is now running for Congress in Delaware on the Green Party ticket. So who better to bring on for a discussion about Zarqawi’s death? Michael Berg appeared on all three cable channels this morning to spew hatred towards the United States Government and George W. Bush. Interestingly, only one network, MSNBC, found the time to mention that Mr. Berg is now a political candidate. Rather then cover the successful elimination of a significant terrorist threat, CNN, FNC, and MSNBC all gave time to someone who would make statements such as this one on CNN’s American Morning at 7:50AM EDT:
Michael Berg: "Well, you know, I'm not saying Saddam Hussein was a good man, but he's no worse than George Bush. Saddam Hussein didn't commit the rapes, neither did George Bush, but both men are responsible under their reigns of, of terror....I don't get it. Why is it better to have George Bush be the king of Iraq rather than Saddam Hussein?"
As has been documented at NewsBusters here, here, here and here, the predictable MSM response to the killing of Zarqawi has been to downplay its signficance. But there was one surprising bright spot late this morning. CNN host Carol Lin gave pull-out-now John Murtha a surprisingly rough run for his money.
Lin: "A very big day for this administration. Is it fair to say that this attack and the killing of Al-Zarqawi wouldn't have happened if US troops were not on the ground?"
Murtha was unwilling to concede the point: "I'm not sure about that. I'm not sure they couldn't have done it from the outside. If it's as portrayed, it was a bomb that killed him from the air, so I'm not sure about that."
At 7:12 this morning, NBC's Today was already turning the Zarqawi victory into a Republican-Democrat spitting match, inviting on Senator Joe Biden (Democrat from Television, I mean, Delaware). When co-host Ann Curry asked: "Do you think, talking about politics for just a moment, that the President might be able now to use this to gain momentum, to improve the chances of, of improving his approval ratings and helping in the midterm elections coming up this November?" Biden said yes, because Bush has been "crippled" by "incompetence" at home and abroad:
Well, I hope it does improve his ratings. Look, I’m a Democrat. We get one president at a time. This election in November is not going to be for president of the United States, and he has been basically crippled at home and abroad because ofthe incompetence of the way his administration has operated at home and abroad, and that’s not good for the country. He fails, America ends up getting hurt. And so, I hope it does improve his standing. I hope it does embolden him then to take bolder moves in terms of changing policy in Iraq. He’s made some significant changes in Iran. That’s helpful. But we have a long way to go. His low ratings and his inability to rally any support is a very difficult position for the United States internationally.
How on Earth would the networks work in the alleged Marine massacre at Haditha today? Oh, don't worry. Matt Lauer was on that six minutes into the show, MRC's Geoff Dickens reports. Oh, the timing was very political, we at NBC would like to underline:
Matt Lauer: "And Mik, let me just talk about the timing of this. The, the U.S. military has been rocked over the last couple of weeks by headlines suggesting an alleged massacre in Haditha. So clearly this comes at a very important time for the Pentagon."
Air America Radio seemed rather unimpressed by the Zarqawi story out of Iraq this morning. I caught some of the opening minutes of the Stephanie Miller show today. They were playing clips of the Rose Garden Bush remarks and just mocking his accent. "He's extra-twangy today," mocked Miller. The show's impressionist started doing Bush in a William Buckley-esque Connecticut accent, implying the Texas talk is all phony.
Then they began joking "we're auditioning for a new boogey-man," as if Zarqawi was a phantom in a closet. (A caller later suggested Simon Cowell host the boogey-man auditions.) By 9:15, the show shifted back to automatic pilot, mocking Gary Bauer's appearance on Fox with John Gibson on opposition to "gay marriage." (They also mocked Tony Perkins on the same subject on Hardball.)
On the other end of the spectrum, Interviewed this morning on GMA, Richard Clarke - former White House advisor, turned author and bitter Bush-administration critic - scoffed at the significance of the killing of Zarqawi. Host Diane Sawyer was happy to second Clarke's emotion.
Sawyer: "First question has got to be this morning, is it any safer in Iraq and will the war end any sooner?"
Early AP dispatches from the press conference Nouri al-Maliki held this morning to announce the death of Zarqawi said these words were "drawing loud applause from reporters" there.
That didn't sound typical, and NBC's Richard Engel was more precise on Today this morning: "Spontaneous joy from Iraqi reporters gathered in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone." American reporters don't cheer American victories. They suggest this won't mean much in the long run.
NBC's Special Report around the president's remarks included analysis from Tim Russert -- in reality and in tone, the Democratic response. Russert threw several pitchers of cold water on the good news, saying people should remember the euphoria after capturing Saddam Hussein, and things didn't change much.
Good on Don Imus! On today's 'Imus in the Morning,' he called NBC reporter Mike Boettcher on his attempt to spin a bombing in Baghdad as a "not good" response to the killing of Zarqawi.
Here's how it went down. Boettcher was reporting from Baghdad and had this to say:
Boettcher: "Well, good morning, Don. We have the response here right now [to the Zarqawi killing], it’s not good. There have been, there has been another bombing. Thirteen people are dead in central Baghdad. So that is apparently the current reaction from the insurgents to Zarqawi's death."
Imus: "How do we know that's a reaction to that, Mike?"
Boettcher started to back down: "We don't know for sure, Don. You’re right, you’re absolutely right."
It's sad that within minutes of announcing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death, the network morning shows were already carrying criticism of the Bush administration. Not only did NBC invite Sen. Joe Biden to attack Bush incompetence (funny day for that!), ABC's Bill Weir reminded the audience that Zarqawi beheaded American Nicholas Berg, and then replayed Berg's left-wing dad saying at the time that he had no desire for his son's killers to be killed. Weir then reported that he spoke to Berg's father this morning, and he condemned the Zarqawi killing as part of an endless cycle of retribution.
UPDATE: MRC's Brian Boyd has the transcript, and it should be noted that Weir also found a more traditional victim's relative response:
You just knew it. The MSM had to find a way to downplay the significance of the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Whereas he had been portrayed as the key to violence in the country, now that he's dead, he is described as just one among 'many thousands'.
And sure enough, on CNN this morning at about 6:20 AM, there was Octavia Nasr CNN's senior editor for Arab affairs, interviewed by host Soledad O'Brien, suggesting that Zarqawi's death might not really be such a 'big deal', after all. Nasr reported that beyond Al Qaeda, there are thousands of other, home-grown insurgent groups in Iraq, 'many' of which are more powerful that Al Qaeda.
"Experts we talk to all the time tell us to be very careful with the way we describe Al Qaeda in Iraq. They say they are the ones that get the most attention, especially from the U.S. media, the western media, but tell us there are many small insurgency groups in Iraq that are more powerful than Al Qaeda, the Zarqawi group. They tell us that there is a resistance in Iaq that is a bit different from the terror groups like Zarqawi's group. So percentage wise, I don't think anyone can put a number on that. But definitely the experts tell us that this is not a lone group in Iraq. There are many thousands more like it."
For weeks, the MSM has been billing as a bellwether the congressional by-election in California to replace convicted felon Randy 'Duke' Cunningham. As per the conventional wisdom, if the Democrats managed to take the seat in what is normally a GOP-stronghold, it would be seen as a harbinger of horrible things to come for the Republican congressional majority.
Well, the election was held yesterday, and - whoops! - the Republican, Brian Bilbray, won. So how did Today spin it? Why, silence was suddenly golden. At least as of the crucial first half-hour, there was time for coverage of dust in the Arizonan desert, but not a word of the Bilbray victory. Insert your imagine-if-the-Dem-had-won comment here.
Earlier today, the Los Angeles Times reported that Pentagon officials were considering
dropping Article 3 of the Geneva Convention from FM 34-52, the Army's
field manual on interrogation. While the Pentagon has not reached a
final decision on the potential modifications to FM 34-52, the Times
and USA Today certainly have. Follow the escalation.
"The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet
of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and
degrading treatment," according to knowledgeable military officials, a
step that would mark a further, potentially permanent, shift away from
strict adherence to international human rights standards."