CBS Trumpets 'New Opposition' to Iraq War, But It's Not New: Just Plug for 60 Minutes

Fill-in anchor Russ Mitchell teased Friday's lead story on the CBS Evening News by citing “a new move to try to stop the war. Senate Democrats want to take back the authorization they gave the President to invade Iraq.” That is new, but a few minutes later Mitchell set up another story by touting how “there is new opposition to the war tonight, and it comes from the very Americans fighting it -- men and women in uniform.” Mitchell explained: “Hundreds of them are very publicly asking Congress to stop it. Lara Logan has this exclusive 60 Minutes report.” The “new opposition,” however, is hardly “new” by daily broadcast journalism standards.

Logan previewed her 60 Minutes story about a relatively minuscule number of servicemen who have signed a petition from an organization called “Appeal for Redress,” a group formed last year and which delivered some petitions to Congress way back on January 16. Logan announced how “over a thousand servicemen and women have done something normally unthinkable for the military: protest the war they're in the middle of fighting....They've all sent a petition called 'Appeal for Redress' to their individual members of Congress letting them know that 'staying in Iraq will not work,' and it's 'time for U.S. troops to come home.'" Logan's piece featured soundbites from three soldiers, but none were identified by her or on screen. The CBSNews.com page previewing the story, however, includes names.

The “Appeal for Redress” Web site reports that “the first Appeal signatures messages will be were [sic] delivered to members of Congress on January 16, to coincide with at the time of [sic] the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January 2007.” The page also boasts that 1,312 “Active Duty, Reserve, and Guard personnel have now signed the appeal!” But that's a very small percent of the several hundreds of thousands of servicemen deployed at some point to Iraq.

Logan did squeeze in a note about how “soldiers from the First Cavalry who are currently serving in Baghdad...acknowledge that the service men and women who signed the petition have the right to do so, but that doesn't mean they should." A soldier in Iraq declared: "I know what I'm here fighting for, to give the Iraqi people, you know, some democracy and hope. So I am 100 percent behind this mission. You don't sign up to pick which war you get to go to." But Logan then gave an “Appeal for Redress” soldier the last word and he shot down a red-herring, that people have questioned the patriotism of war opponents in the military:
“By volunteering we've done more than about 99 percent of the population. And anybody who joined after 9/11 when the country was in a state of war, it's my opinion that nobody has the right to question that soldier's patriotism, nobody.”
The plea from Appeal for Redress:
“As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.”
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the February 23 CBS Evening News story:
Up top, Russ Mitchell teased: “Tonight, a new move to try to stop the war. Senate Democrats want to take back the authorization they gave the President to invade Iraq. And a CBS News 60 Minutes exclusive: Hundreds of U.S. servicemen and women are protesting the war while they're fighting it.”

Mitchell soon arrived at the plug for 60 Minutes: "There is new opposition to the war tonight, and it comes from the very Americans fighting it -- men and women in uniform. Hundreds of them are very publicly asking Congress to stop it. Lara Logan has this exclusive 60 Minutes report."

Lara Logan: "The fight in hostile Anbar province has been more deadly for U.S. forces than anywhere else in Iraq. Over a thousand have been killed in this violent region west of Baghdad. And today, the military announced three more. That's part of the reason over a thousand servicemen and women have done something normally unthinkable for the military: protest the war they're in the middle of fighting. Their interviews will be on 60 Minutes this Sunday."

Unidentified soldier #1: "As a patriotic citizen who served two combat tours in Iraq, I just feel that this war is simply just not working out anymore, and soldiers are dying there every day."

Logan: "It's a sentiment echoed by all of the service members who are part of this protest. We gathered some of them in Washington, but they had to be off base, out of uniform, and off duty to speak to us on camera. They've all sent a petition called 'Appeal for Redress' to their individual members of Congress letting them know that 'staying in Iraq will not work,' and it's 'time for U.S. troops to come home.'"

Unidentified soldier #2: "Just because we volunteered for the military doesn't mean we volunteered to put our lives in unnecessary harm and to carry out missions that are illogical and immoral."

Unidentified soldier #3: "I mean, we volunteered to make a difference, not just be part of an experiment."

Logan: "We spoke with soldiers from the First Cavalry who are currently serving in Baghdad. They acknowledge that the service men and women who signed the petition have the right to do so, but that doesn't mean they should."

Unidentified soldier #4, in Iraq: "I know what I'm here fighting for, to give the Iraqi people, you know, some democracy and hope. So I am 100 percent behind this mission. You don't sign up to pick which war you get to go to."

Logan an “Appeal for Redress” soldier: "There are going to be a lot of people who don't like what you're doing."

Unidentified soldier #3: "By volunteering we've done more than about 99 percent of the population. And anybody who joined after 9/11 when the country was in a state of war, it's my opinion that nobody has the right to question that soldier's patriotism, nobody."

Logan: "Lara Logan, CBS News, Baghdad."

Sunday's 60 Minutes will also feature Mike Wallace's interview with Bill O'Reilly.
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