GMA on ‘Mission Accomplished’ Then: ‘A++’: Now: ‘Bushian Bravado’
On the Tuesday edition of "Good Morning America," the ABC program used the fourth anniversary of President Bush’s "Mission Accomplished" speech to slam the "Bushian bravado" of an event that "this administration will never live down."
Correspondent Claire Shipman marveled at "how naive that banner looks four years later." The day after the President landed on the USS Lincoln aircraft carrier, however, GMA wasn't so prescient. ABC Anchor George Stephanopoulos labeled the speech an "A++," "well done" and seemed impressed with the "small poster that said ‘Mission Accomplished.’"
On the fourth anniversary of the event, anchor Diane Sawyer introduced a segment that looked back on the "confident architects" of the Iraq war. Reporter Shipman then used the "Mission Accomplished" speech as a segue to attack familiar media targets:
Claire Shipman: "Good morning, Diane. How naive that banner looks four years later, and that is being charitable. And it is striking when you look at it how circumstances have changed for all of the President's men behind the war effort. It was a moment of Bushian bravado that this administration will never live down."
President George W. Bush: "Our nation and our coalition are proud of this accomplishment."
Shipman: "Four years later, the mission a disaster. And the once-indestructible architects in profound disarray."
Cokie Roberts (ABC News): "The reputation of all of the people who were the architects of this war is shot."
Why, exactly, is ABC using Cokie Roberts, one of its veteran journalists, to make a partisan, liberal point?
Shipman concluded her brief report, which aired at 7:09am on May 1, by reminding viewers that Donald Rumsfeld has resigned, that former CIA Director George Tenet has split with the President and of the troubles that Paul Wolfowitz finds himself in. As for Vice President Cheney, the ABC correspondent claimed that the conviction of his former top aide Scooter Libby "was read by many as a warning of his unchecked power."
However, as noted in the CyberAlert on May 2, 2003, George Stephanopoulos, appearing on "Good Morning America" to comment about the aircraft landing, seemed impressed:
For those who grade presidential photo-ops, this was an A++. I mean, look at the pictures of the President on the flight deck. He looks like one of the pilots -- I'll say one thing, he was very careful to take that helmet off before he got out on the flight deck. Nobody wants a picture in a helmet looking like, remember back in 1988, Michael Dukakis in the tank. But this was well done, you had all of the troops just surrounding him with joy and even, I don't know if we have the picture, but if you look when the President gave the speech last night, even up on the tower of the aircraft carrier, they had a small poster that said 'Mission Accomplished,' in case any photo just looked up that high.
Is the reputation of Mr. Stephanopoulos shot for providing such a positive take? Finally, as mentioned previously in NewsBusters, media reports often leave out relevant parts of the May ‘03 speech Bush gave on the deck of the USS Lincoln:
We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We're helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools....The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq.
Now, quoting this section of the speech may not be as simple and easy as repeatedly showing a banner, but it does provides some context.