Good Morning America's Martha Raddatz on Monday seemed perplexed as to why conservatives would oppose Chuck Hagel's nomination for Secretary of Defense. According to the journalist, one might think the former Republican senator is the "perfect choice," a man who "dared [to] speak out" against George W. Bush's troop surge in Iraq -- the same surge that candidate Obama later admitted had "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."
Raddatz mentioned concern about Hagel's stance toward Israel, but didn't explain what his "controversial" votes were. Instead, she blurbed, "You might think that a Republican Vietnam veteran, former senator with all kinds of foreign policy experience would be the perfect choice to ease the rancor on Capitol Hill." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The reporter also enthused, "In 2007, Hagel dared to speak out against the planned troop surge in Iraq." Raddatz then played a clip of the then-senator calling the surge the "most danger foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam." No mention was made of just how wrong Hagel turned out to be or of the success of the surge.
Yet, Raddatz seemed confused that "even conservative groups" oppose the Republican.
Over on CBS This Morning, Bill Plante explained of Hagel: "When he was a Senator he supported Israeli negotiations with Hamas which the U.S. says is a terrorist group. He also voted against sanctions on Iran in favor of direct negotiations."
On NBC's Today, Chuck Todd insisted that Hagel "became a thorn in the side of Senate Republicans in 2007, turning against the Iraq war." Todd didn't go into a discussion of the troop surge or how his opinion on it might be embarrassing now.
The NBC correspondent did note that Hagel has previously complained about the "Jewish lobby" in Washington. However, Todd offered a more detailed explanation about Hagel's stance on gay rights and those who oppose him because of that:
CHUCK TODD: And some gay rights advocates are upset over comments Hagel made in 1998 about an openly gay U.S. ambassador nominee, who Chuck Hagel called "openly aggressively gay." Former Congressman Barney Frank, who's also gay and may end up a temporary senator from Massachusetts during Hagel's confirmation hearings, blasted the Nebraska Republican last week, saying, "I cannot think of any other minority group in the U.S. today where such a negative statement and action made in 1998 would not be an obstacle."
A transcript of the January 7 Good morning America segment follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Breaking right now. The President set to announce his new national security team. ABC News has learned that John Brennan is his pick to run the CIA, but a battle royale is brewing over his choice for Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel. Martha Raddatz is here with the breaking details.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But we're going to begin with that breaking news out of the White House. President Obama will nominate his picks for the Pentagon and CIA later today. Already stirring up some controversy. And ABC's Martha Raddatz is in Washington with the latest. Good morning, Martha.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Good morning, George. Let's start with the defense secretary. You might think that a Republican Vietnam veteran, former senator with all kinds of foreign policy experience would be the perfect choice to ease the rancor on Capitol Hill. But Chuck Hagel is going to have to fight for confirmation. Republican Chuck Hagel has one very important Democrat on his side.
BARACK OBAMA: I've served with Chuck Hagel. I know him. He's patriot.
RADDATZ: But when news broke he will be President Obama's pick for Secretary of Defense, prominent Republicans, who would be part of a confirmation, called Hagel an in-your-face pick.
TED CRUZ (R-TX): It is very difficult to imagine a circumstance in which I could support his nomination.
LINDSEY GRAHAM: It's a controversial choice.
RADDATZ: Even conservative groups got in on the fight against Hagel.
AD: Chuck Hagel is not a responsible option.
RADDATZ: But, why is everyone so sour on the former Republican senator? Last month he had to issue an apology for comments made in 1998 about President Clinton's nominee to be ambassador to Luxembourg, calling him "openly, aggressively gay." In 2007, Hagel dared to speak out against the planned troop surge in Iraq.
HAGEL: The most danger foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.
RADDATZ: And his controversial comments on Israel incensed many when he said lawmakers on Capitol Hill were intimidated by what he called the Jewish lobby.
GRAHAM: If confirmed to be Secretary of Defense, he would be the most antagonistic Secretary of Defense toward the state of Israel in our nation's history.
RADDATZ: The White House strongly refutes that, as do others who say Hagel is a friend of Israel. But Hagel's confirmation, George, as you know is not guaranteed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not at all. Also, John Brennan, the President's pick for CIA, of course replacing David Petraeus. He's been the president's closest adviser on counter-terrorism, at the heart for that hunt for Osama bin Laden. But also likely to face questions about the President's drone warfare program.
RADDATZ: Exactly those kinds of questions and also some enhanced interrogation questions. John Brennan is a long-trusted head of counter terrorism. He is very close to the President. He was right there next to Obama when Osama bin Laden was killed. He, of course, replaces David Petraeus because he resigned in the wake of the sex scandal.