ABC's Gibson: Kerry's Dumb 'Get Stuck In Iraq' Merely an 'Idle Political Remark'

Introducing the lead story on Tuesday's World News about John Kerry's seeming insult of troops in Iraq -- or at the very least that Bush is stupid -- ABC anchor Charles Gibson characterized it as merely an “idle political remark” as he fretted the attention it got from alternative media outlets and how that crowded out other issues: “What happened today is an object lesson in how in this day and age, an idle political remark gets seized upon, becomes fodder for the talk shows, the blogs, and the politicians, and suddenly obscures discussion of all other issues.” Following the story by Jake Tapper, which included shots of NewsBusters (see NewsBusters item with video and screen capture), Gibson pressed George Stephanopoulos about presumed White House duplicity: "George, does anyone at the White House really think that Senator Kerry was in some way denigrating the intelligence of American troops?" Stephanopoulos assured him: "Not exactly, but they don't think it's their job to give John Kerry the benefit of the doubt.”

At a Monday campaign event for California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides, held at Pasadena City College, Kerry asserted: "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." Kerry claims it was a mangled joke about Bush getting stuck in Iraq.

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth took down how Gibson opened the October 31 World News:
"Good evening. One week before the election, you'd have thought today we were approaching the 2004 presidential election, not the 2006 off-year election. One week before the election, you'd have thought today it was Kerry v. Bush all over again. And what happened today is an object lesson in how in this day and age, an idle political remark gets seized upon, becomes fodder for the talk shows, the blogs, and the politicians, and suddenly obscures discussion of all other issues. We start with our senior political correspondent, Jake Tapper."
Following Tapper, Gibson turned to Stephanopoulos:
"George, does anyone at the White House really think that Senator Kerry was in some way denigrating the intelligence of American troops?"

George Stephanopoulos: "Not exactly, but they don't think it's their job to give John Kerry the benefit of the doubt. And as one top official told me, you know, even in the best case he was calling the President dumb. What this gives them an opening to do, though, is to fit in with the strategy of the week: rile up their conservative base voters. They spent almost $200 million in 2004 getting that base to hate John Kerry. They're happy to run that race again. Here's the caveat: Every day that the President and Republicans are talking about Iraq is not necessarily a good day. That's been the big anchor."
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