Perturbed Reid Chastises ABC's Tapper for Questioning Withdrawal: 'This Isn't a Debate'

ABC's Jake Tapper on Thursday night raised the prediction “genocide” will result after a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, a forecast Tapper put to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at a Capitol Hill news conference: “Do you think the Iraqi people will be safer with U.S. troops out?” Reid didn't respond to the point, leading Tapper to retort in the exchange played on World News: “You didn't answer my question.” A perturbed Reid, presumably not used to challenging questions from the Washington press corps, chastised Tapper: “This isn't a debate. We're answering questions.” Tapper then repeated his question -- “Will the Iraqis be safer?” -- but Reid ignored him and moved on: “Anyone else have a question?”

Tapper's story ran a night after Wednesday's World News featured a report from Terry McCarthy in Iraq on how General David Petraeus, commander of all multi-national forces in Iraq, “is still very optimistic about the military battle, if the politicians give him enough time.” (July 11 NewsBusters item)

Video clip (35 secs): Real (1 MB) or Windows Media (1.2 MB), plus MP3 audio (200 KB)

[UPDATE, 10:25pm EDT: As "bigtimer" noted in a comment below, on his "Political Punch" blog Tapper posted a transcript of the entire exchange with Reid.]

Tapper's July 12 World News story was pegged to the House passage of a resolution calling on troop withdrawal from Iraq to begin within four months, a measure to be taken up next week by the Senate. Following a pro and a con soundbite on the resolution, Tapper showed his exchange with Reid:

JAKE TAPPER: Some foreign policy experts predict that such a U.S. withdrawal could unleash genocide against innocent Iraqis. It's a subject Democrats do not want to discuss.
TAPPER TO REID AT PRESS CONFERENCE: Do you think the Iraqi people will be safer with U.S. troops out?

REID: It is clear that the Iraqi people don't want us there. It is clear that there is now a state of chaos in Iraq. And it is up to the Iraqi people to make themselves safe.

[Edit jump]

TAPPER: With all due respect, Senator, you didn't answer my question.

REID: This isn't a debate. We're answering questions.

TAPPER: Will the Iraqis be safer?

REID: Anyone else have a question?
TAPPER: This week's renewed push to withdraw troops, two months before General Petraeus reports to Congress on the progress of the surge strategy, has Republicans saying these votes are more about politics than national security....
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