In Funeral Coverage, Fineman Can't Resist Raising Ford's Critical View of Iraq War

Journalists just can't resist highlighting how the late President Gerald Ford expressed disagreement with President George W. Bush's Iraq policy and with Vice President Dick Cheney's adamant pursuit of it. A fresh example: Barely two minutes into MSNBC's Saturday coverage of Ford's funeral, Newsweek political reporter Howard Fineman ruminated about how “the interesting thing is that Gerald Ford himself, toward the end of his life, in conversations with Bob Woodward...said basically I disagreed with the idea of going to war in Iraq and he wondered about Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld,” who “were known for their probity and caution and for their lack of ideology, for their realistic view of the world. How was it, Ford wondered toward the end of his life, that those two guys, part of that all-star team of realists, had gotten hooked up in what Ford regarded as a mistaken war?"

The broadcast networks on Thursday and Friday, especially ABC and NBC, focused on the comments Ford made to Woodward in 2004 but not published until Thursday, after his death, in an article headlined “Ford Disagreed With Bush About Invading Iraq.” MRC CyberAlert item on Thursday morning and evening coverage. NewsBusters posting about Friday morning.

MSNBC began its funeral coverage at 5pm EST, shortly before the arrival at Andrews Air Force base of the plane carrying Ford's body, with Chris Matthews as anchor. Within a couple of minutes, Matthews read the names of some of the planned pall-bearers for the service at the U.S. Capitol, prompting this response from Fineman:
"That's the all-stars of what I would call managerial Republicanism. But the interesting thing is that Gerald Ford himself, toward the end of his life, in conversations with Bob Woodward, the journalist of the Washington Post that have now become public, said basically I disagreed with the idea of going to war in Iraq and he wondered about Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld who had been his chiefs of staff in the White House in the 70s. Men who were known for their probity and caution and for their lack of ideology, for their realistic view of the world. How was it, Ford wondered toward the end of his life, that those two guys, part of that all-star team of realists, had gotten hooked up in what Ford regarded as a mistaken war?"

Matthews: "It may be that Gerry Ford got them wrong, not that they changed."

Fineman: "It could be, it could be."

Matthews: "That they were always people of pugnacity, which is a word he used in that interview with Bob Woodward, and he didn't see it."
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