The April 4 edition of CBS’s "The Early Show" covered Republican Senator and presidential candidate John McCain’s visit to Iraq implying he has a skewed sense of reality. Anchor Russ Mitchell introduced the segment that the Arizona Senator "seems to be stumbling a bit of late" because he "went to Iraq" and "said he saw some progress."
Before playing McCain’s optimistic sound bite, correspondent Martin Seemungal reported that McCain had been in Baghdad for "just a few hours." After playing another positive word from Congressman Mike Pence (R-Ind), Seemungal responded that "the reality on the ground is anything but peaceful" and some residents claimed "it took a massive military operation to give the congressmen that sense of security."
After implying McCain sees the situation in Iraq in a warped fashion, perhaps Seemungal missed the report that violence has dropped significantly since President Bush announced the surge, which ABC even picked up. Additionally, the soldiers themselves claim that the media does not tell the whole story. The entire transcript is below.
RUSS MITCHELL: The campaign of presidential hopeful John McCain seems to be stumbling a bit of late. The Senator went to Iraq over the weekend and said he saw progress, starting with being able to move around on foot in Baghdad, but some Iraqis have a different take on McCain's visit. CBS' Martin Seemungal has more.
MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: After just a few hours in Baghdad, Republican Senator John McCain was eager to share his first impressions.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): Things are getting better in Iraq and I am pleased at the progress that has been made.
SEEMUNGAL: Leading a congressional delegation to Baghdad's oldest market over the weekend, Senator McCain crowed about the safety of the city since the American troop surge.
MCCAIN: Never have I been able to go out into the city as I was today.
SEEMUNGAL: Representative Mike Pence said Baghdad central souq was
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE PENCE (R-IN): like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime.
SEEMUNGAL: If you look at it from this side of the river it actually does look pretty serene. But the reality on the ground is anything but peaceful. People live in constant fear of suicide bombers and snipers. Across the river, shopkeepers say that it took a massive military operation to give the congressmen that sense of security. "McCain was not alone when he came here and walked around," he says. "The military had sealed off the area for a mile in every direction." Although soldiers are gone now, the market is back to normal. But business is slow. People are afraid to come back to the market that's been attacked so many times. "McCain came with a whole army" Ayad Hassan said. "They asked a few questions and left, but we're no safer." For safety to stick, there is only one real solution. Those soldiers would have to spend more than just a few hours on this street. Martin Seemungal, for CBS News, Baghdad.
Update: ABC video on improved Iraqi situation here