As my fellow newsbusters have pointed out the media has incorrectly portrayed John Murtha as a new anti-war convert war and this morning's Today show was no different. In the 7:00am hour of Today David Gregory acted as if Murtha had just changed his mind on the war yesterday:
David Gregory: "Back home on Thursday one of Congress's most hawkish Democrats, John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a Vietnam veteran who voted for the war abruptly changed his stand."
After Gregory's piece Katie Couric used Murtha's speech to hit White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace with Today's Theme of the Week: Even War Supporters Oppose Bush The following are all of Couric's questions to Wallace:
Katie Couric: "Nicolle Wallace is the White House Communications Director. Ms. Wallace good morning to you."[Nicolle Wallace]Couric: "Well John Murtha, we're talking about a retired Marine colonel, a Vietnam veteran, a hawk on defense voted for both the Gulf War in 1991 and the war in Iraq in 2002. Just last year during the vice presidential debate Dick Cheney called Congressman Murtha one of his strongest allies when he was Secretary of Defense. Were you surprised by this speech?"[Graphic: "Unpatriotic To Criticize War?"][Wallace]Couric: "Well I know the President said on Thursday it was patriotic to disagree with the President and you just said you welcomed debate. Was it appropriate then, in your view, for White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan to say Congressman Murtha endorsed quote, 'policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party?'"[Wallace]Couric: "But Ms. Wallace aren't we talking about semantics here? I mean after all the Senate Republicans did introduce this proposal. It called for quarterly or, or more progress reports or even progress reports at all on U.S. efforts to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqis during 2006. So I guess if you follow that the appropriate conclusion would be the Iraqi security forces would replace U.S. troops and they want it done sooner rather than later."[Wallace]Couric: "At the same time though if Republicans in the Senate agreed with the White House policy and the White House strategy why was it necessary to have a proposal at all?"[Wallace]Couric: "It seems like the debate has gotten increasingly vitriolic and personal on both sides and I'm curious to get your reaction to Congressman Murtha's statement regarding Dick Cheney, the Vice President, saying, 'I like guys who got five deferments and never, have never been there and send people to war and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done. What is the White House reaction to that?"[Wallace]Couric: "And finally, you know, torture was a big subject of debate as well this week on Capitol Hill. Critics say, including Senator John McCain who himself was a prisoner of war as you well know, say it's inhumane, it's ineffective and it further tarnishes the U.S. image in the world. But the administration has asked or continues to ask for exemptions when it comes to the CIA for certain kind, kinds of high level detainees. Can you explain to the American public why the White House feels that's necessary?"[Wallace]Couric: "Well is it ever, is it ever appropriate to inflict physical pain upon a detainee?"[Wallace]Couric: "I don't, I don't mean to belabor the point but if that's the case then why ask for exemptions for certain high level detainees?"[Wallace]Couric: "Alright White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace. Thanks so much for your time this morning, we appreciate it."