"American Morning" host Miles O'Brien prefaced a September 13 interview with White House Press Secretary Tony Snow by mentioning the President's 9/11 speech and wondering "if lawmakers on both sides of the aisle" were heeding Bush's call for unity. It soon became clear that when O'Brien said both sides, he meant only Republicans. The CNN anchor led with a quote critical of Democrats by Majority Leader John Boehner. Snow then attempted to reference some tough statements made by liberal Senator Carl Levin. O'Brien respond:
O'BRIEN: "No, no, I want to ask -- can I ask about Republicans first? Let's just talk about Republicans....I want to ask you about Republicans."
This became the tone of the entire interview, which aired at 7:34AM EDT. What exactly are Republicans doing to disrupt unity? Snow attempted to point out that Democrats have opposed a terrorist surveillance program and other initiatives related to the war on terror. O'Brien, however, couldn't be dissuaded from his laser-like focus on the Republicans and their obstruction of unity. Take this exchange between the press secretary and the CNN anchor:
O'BRIEN: "I just want you to talk about Republicans for a moment."
SNOW: "I see. Okay."
O'BRIEN: "Forget the Democrats for just a moment."
SNOW: "Well, here's the thing-"
O'BRIEN: "I know that's hard to do."
SNOW: "Well, no, you're asking-"
O'BRIEN: "Just tell me about what the Republicans are saying and their rhetoric, post the President's speech."
Snow started to respond, but O'Brien interrupted to reiterate his thesis:
O'BRIEN: "It doesn't sound like a lot of unity there."
So, essentially, Republicans are the obstruction? That statement might be easier to believe if you didn't have incidents such as the Democratic Minority Leader, Harry Reid, publically calling President Bush a "loser."
O'Brien then shifted subjects, but continued with the premise that Republicans are the problem. During a discussion of a recent CNN poll that showed 43 percent of Americans believe Saddam Hussein to have been personally involved in planning 9/11, the "American Morning" host cited a comment from GOP Senator Rick Santorum:
O'BRIEN: "Once again, talking about some Republicans on the Hill, Senator Rick Santorum said this on the Senate floor yesterday. He said: ‘The very people that planned the attacks,' referring to 9/11, ‘are the people who are in Iraq, Al Qaeda, in Iraq causing that sectarian violence.' It's no wonder people are confused."
A visibly puzzled Tony Snow responded, "Huh? I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say here." It soon became clear that O'Brien saw this as a dark Republican plot to blame Saddam for 9/11. Snow quickly pointed out the obvious:
SNOW: "Let me try to make it clear. Al Qaeda did not have operational duties within Iraq, it was not sitting around, you know, in a corner office with Saddam Hussein plotting 9/11. There were Al Qaeda there....Miles, don't get confused about the fact that there are Al Qaeda members in Iraq. Of course there are. They were before the war and after the war. They just weren't part of Saddam's officials retinue and they weren't doing formal operations with Saddam's government. I don't think it should be that confusing."
It shouldn't be confusing, unless of course you're a CNN anchor trying to blame every problem in Congress on the Republicans and their apparent distaste for "unity."