As I noted yesterday, while most Americans were celebrating the military success that killed the most wanted terrorist in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, there were still some in the media trying to spin the development in a negative light. That trend continued on the CBS "Evening News" with Bob Schieffer last evening. In one segment, Schieffer interviewed two critics of the war in Iraq, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and CBS News Analyst Michael Scheuer. Scheuer had also appeared earlier in the day on "The Early Show."
Schieffer focused on Friedman first, inquiring what Friedman thought about the development:
"How important is this?"
Friedman noted that Zarqawi was the "all star of all stars of terrorism" and that he won’t be easily replaced, but it’s only one day of good news after "so many unremitting days of bad news." Well who creates these unremitting days of bad news? Could it be the media in their quest to cling to every piece of bad news coming out of Iraq while ignoring anything positive?
Schieffer went on to cue up Friedman, quoting something he wrote and inquiring whether Zarqawi’s death would alter it:
Bob Schieffer: "You wrote the other day that this is moving from being an insurgency into just anarchy."
Tom Friedman: "Absolutely."
Bob Schieffer: "Will that change now?"
Schieffer accepts the claim that Iraq is turning into anarchy. What about questions about Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri al Maliki, completing the formation of his government by naming ministers of defense and the interior. What impact will this news combined with the death of Zarqawi have? Do these events together provide some momentum for the Iraqi government going forward?
After Schieffer completed lobbing his softballs to Tom Friedman, he turned his attention to CBS News analyst Michael Scheuer. Scheuer had been on "The Early Show" earlier in the day where he tried to spin Zarqawi’s death as being good for al Qaeda and bad for America. Scheuer made some of his same points, claiming:
" Zarqawi was really off the reservation for al Qaeda in terms of his willingness or eagerness to fight Shias. And with him out of the way, I suspect the next al Qaeda leader in Iraq will focus more on American forces and the Iraqi government than actually just fighting against the Shia."
Again, Schieffer asks no tough questions. With Zarqawi’s death, could it not provide an opportunity to for coalition forces and the Iraqi security forces to go after Zarqawi’s loyalists while they are reeling from this news? Instead Schieffer weakly followed up:
"What do you think the real significance of all this is, Michael."
Scheuer took the opportunity to minimize the accomplishment:
"Any day you can kill Abu Musab al Zarqawi is a good day for Americans, sir, but in the long run, I think, it’s a great tactical victory. Strategically, it’s not very important..."
Not very important strategically? Zarqawi had become a symbol of fear for the Iraqi people. He was a brutal thug and the main cheerleader for civil war in Iraq. For success to be possible in Iraq, it was strategically vital that he be removed from the picture. Yet, again, no such follow up questions from Bob Schieffer, just a simple "thank you." Unfortunately, things probably won’t get any better when he retires, as his replacement is also a booster for liberals.