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ABC Exploits Christmas Decorations Tour to Hit First Lady on Iraq --12/1/2005


1. ABC Exploits Christmas Decorations Tour to Hit First Lady on Iraq
ABC's Jessica Yellin, live on Wednesday's Good Morning America, exploited First Lady Laura Bush's tour of White House Christmas displays, cards and decorations to hit her with an emotion-laden inquiry about regretting the war in Iraq: "Have you ever met with a mother whose own loss has made you question, even for a moment, whether the U.S. should be in Iraq?" Mrs. Bush replied with how "every loss is too many" and said that "I want to encourage Americans to reach out to our military families who suffer the most." Yellin followed up by continuing her agenda: "And do you hope the U.S. will be out of Iraq by this time next year?" Yellin posed her serious questions about three minutes into Mrs. Bush's descriptions of the cards and ornaments in the East Room.

2. CNN Yearns for a Cronkite on Iraq, Paints France as "Vindicated"
CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 on Tuesday night speculated about whether America has reached a Walter Cronkite Vietnam war assessment "tipping point" as Cooper set up a laudatory profile of anti-war Republican Congressman Walter Jones. After an ad break, Cooper went to Christiane Amanpour who asked French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin if he feels his anti-war efforts have now been "vindicated?" Cooper recalled: "On hearing Walter Cronkite say the war in Vietnam had reached a stalemate after the Tet offensive, President Lyndon Johnson famously said, 'If I've lost Walter Cronkite, I've lost middle America.' Fast forward thirty-seven years, there's no Walter Cronkite to speak for middle America, but reporting from middle America, from a congressional district where support for the military and the President traditionally runs high, we do have CNN's John King." King described Jones' "dramatic transformation" against the war and highlighted a pro-war veteran as well as a retired Marine Colonel who declared: "I'm more convinced than ever that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld will be the Republicans' Robert S. McNamara." King then contended: "Such talk in a patriotic place like this is telling."

3. FNC's Hume: Nets Played Up Murtha But Went Silent on Lieberman
You read it here first. FNC's Brit Hume on Wednesday night pointed out how "the major media that played up Democratic Representative John Murtha's call for withdrawing U.S. troops largely ignored" Senator Joe Lieberman's call to keep troops in Iraq as "neither ABC or CBS mentioned the Senator in their nightly newscasts while NBC aired a short soundbite."

4. "Top Ten New President Bush Strategies for Victory in Iraq"
Letterman's "Top Ten New President Bush Strategies for Victory in Iraq."


ABC Exploits Christmas Decorations Tour
to Hit First Lady on Iraq

ABC's Jessica Yellin, live on Wednesday's Good Morning America, exploited First Lady Laura Bush's tour of White House Christmas displays, cards and decorations to hit her with an emotion-laden inquiry about regretting the war in Iraq: "Have you ever met with a mother whose own loss has made you question, even for a moment, whether the U.S. should be in Iraq?" Mrs. Bush replied with how "every loss is too many" and said that "I want to encourage Americans to reach out to our military families who suffer the most." Yellin followed up by continuing her agenda: "And do you hope the U.S. will be out of Iraq by this time next year?" Yellin posed her serious questions about three minutes into Mrs. Bush's descriptions of the cards and ornaments in the East Room.

[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

The MRC's Brian Boyd caught Yellin's line of questioning during the live tour, just past 8am EST, on the November 30 Good Morning America. A transcript, picking up where Yellin raised Iraq as the two stood in the East Room:

Jessica Yellin: "May I ask you on a more serious note, today, your husband will be delivering a speech on Iraq. This holiday season thousands of Americans are serving overseas. And I know you've met with families of the fallen, I wonder in your experiences have you ever met with a mother whose own loss has made you question, even for a moment, whether the U.S. should be in Iraq?"
Laura Bush: "Every loss, every loss is too many. Every one is too much. And it's very, very difficult as you might imagine to meet with families who've lost somebody. And especially at the holiday season it's especially hard for them, for people who don't have someone at the table and will never have them there again, or for those whose families are deployed and they have an empty seat this season. So, I want to encourage Americans to reach out to our military families who suffer the most, who carry the heaviest burden of all of this. To be with them, to think of our troops who are overseas serving without their family members while they're there. And to think about especially those children of our service members who are here this holiday season without their parents."
Yellin: "And do you hope the U.S. will be out of Iraq by this time next year?"
Bush: "Sure, of course. You know, absolutely. I mean we want our troops to be able to come home as soon as they possibly can. And I feel actually very encouraged about Iraq. I know what people see on television is horrible because it's really very difficult for us, but Iraq is about to have another election. When you think of how quickly they've been able to ratify a constitution; to have a free election, which they'll be having this month; it's really remarkable how far they've come. And is it difficult? Absolutely. We know that. It's difficult for them, it's difficult for us, but I really feel very, very encouraged that we're going to see a great ending when we see a free, democratic Iraq right in the heart of the Middle East. I think it's very important and it's especially important that we stay with them while they build their democracy."

CNN Yearns for a Cronkite on Iraq, Paints
France as "Vindicated"

CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night speculated about whether America has reached a Walter Cronkite Vietnam war assessment "tipping point" as Cooper set up a laudatory profile of anti-war Republican Congressman Walter Jones. After an ad break, Cooper went to Christiane Amanpour who asked French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin if he feels his anti-war efforts have now been "vindicated?" Cooper recalled: "On hearing Walter Cronkite say the war in Vietnam had reached a stalemate after the Tet offensive, President Lyndon Johnson famously said, 'If I've lost Walter Cronkite, I've lost middle America.' Fast forward thirty-seven years, there's no Walter Cronkite to speak for middle America, but reporting from middle America, from a congressional district where support for the military and the President traditionally runs high, we do have CNN's John King." King described Jones' "dramatic transformation" against the war and highlighted a pro-war veteran as well as a retired Marine Colonel who declared: "I'm more convinced than ever that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld will be the Republicans' Robert S. McNamara." King then contended: "Such talk in a patriotic place like this is telling."

In the next segment of Anderson Cooper 360, Amanpour sat down with the anti-war de Villepin, who as "France's Foreign Minister, was way out in front voicing French dissent." Amanpour cued him up: "You obviously did not support it, and you raised many of the issues that are currently unfolding there right now. What do you think? Do you feel vindicated when you look at what Iraq is going through right now?" Amanpour soon relayed de Villepin's shot at violence in the U.S.: "And on France's fiery unrest, two weeks of rioting by French youths of African and Arab origin, de Villepin admits these people do face discrimination, but he downplays the violence compared to what's happened in the U.S."

Jones' opposition to the war is hardly fresh news. Back in June all the networks jumped to hype his opposition. A June 21 MRC CyberAlert item recounted how on CNN's NewsNight on June 17 Aaron set up an empathetic profile of Jones as he stressed a potential wider trend: "What might make the White House and the war supporters the most nervous are the stirrings of a few voices, a few, on the Republican side. They're not big names, not House or Senate leaders, they're back benchers, but sometimes that's where rebellion starts." See: www.mrc.org

The MRC's Megan McCormack noticed the two November 29 stories in the 11pm EST second hour of Anderson Cooper 360, and provided transcripts:

Anderson Cooper, just before 11:45pm EST: "Well, the President of the United States speaks to the country again tomorrow trying to clarify his plan for getting the job done in Iraq and getting out. Question is have Americans reached a breaking point or a tipping point? On hearing Walter Cronkite say the war in Vietnam had reached a stalemate after the Tet offensive, President Lyndon Johnson famously said, 'If I've lost Walter Cronkite, I've lost middle America.' Fast forward thirty-seven years, there's no Walter Cronkite to speak for middle America, but reporting from middle America, from a congressional district where support for the military and the President traditionally runs high, we do have CNN's John King."

John King: "At first glance, Congressman Walter Jones is perhaps the most unlikely White House nemesis in the Iraq war debate. He is a conservative Republican, voted for the war, and was so angered at the French for opposing President Bush, he coined the phrase '€˜Freedom Fries.' And yet, now, if he could write one line of the president's big Iraq speech it would be this."
Representative Walter Jones, North Carolina, to King: "That I made a mistake. I thought at the time it was the right thing to do, but in reflection I now know I made a mistake. We've got to be able to tell the American people the truth."
King: "His dramatic transformation began more than a year ago at a military funeral. Now, the Congressman writes letters to family of every serviceman killed in Iraq, says his support for the war was a mistake, and that the President has failed to explain how the pre-war intelligence was so bad and how he defines victory now."
Jones: "John, I think it's a mountain that's got to be climbed. And I think it all goes to that word trust."
King: "Challenging a war-time commander in chief is risky business here. North Carolina's third congressional district is conservative country, dotted with military installations like Camp Lejeune and the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. A place that gave the President 68 percent of the vote just a year ago. In local lore, the blood runs red, white and blue. Retired Army Colonel Gus Wilgus among those who think their Congressman and others demanding a detailed exit strategy are naive or worse."
Colonel Gus Wilgus, U.S. Army, retired, to King on the porch of a house: "It's like playing poker with an open hand to your opponent. And by playing poker with an open hand, I believe that that gives the enemy, first of all, gives them your plan, it gives them a timetable that says, hey, sit back and wait."
King: "Vietnam and Desert Storm combat veteran Jim Van Riper supports the war and agrees any talk of specific withdrawal timetables is a mistake. But recently, Van Riper wrote his congressional delegation saying he could no longer support the Republican Party, calling Iraq a textbook case of how not to wage a war. Van Riper says the President is in a mess of his own making for standing by his Defense Secretary."
Colonel Jim Van Riper, U.S.M.C., retired: "I'm more convinced than ever that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld will be the Republicans' Robert S. McNamara, when history's written that's the way he'll be viewed."
King: "Such talk in a patriotic place like this is telling. Tough questions for the Commander in Chief even as bases are bustling with training for the next deployment. For his part, Congressman Jones has no shortage of critics. He says he will keep asking his questions if the President doesn't answer them."
Jones: "It's for the families who have loved ones in Iraq today. It's for the families who have given a child dying for freedom."
King: "John King, CNN, Greenville, North Carolina."

Following an ad break, Cooper went to Christiane Amanpour in Parris. She set up her piece: "The Iraq war drove a deep wedge between France and the United States. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, then France's Foreign Minister, was way out in front voicing French dissent."

Amanpour's first question as the two sat face-to-face for the interview: "You obviously did not support it, and you raised many of the issues that are currently unfolding there right now. What do you think? Do you feel vindicated when you look at what Iraq is going through right now?"
Dominique de Villepin, French Prime Minister: "No, I think we, it is of course a very difficult situation. We have gone a long way to begin to establish democracy in Iraq, but still there is a long way to go."
Amanpour: "As for the immediate future, de Villepin says there are two main issues for Iraq: the possible outbreak of civil war and terrorism."
de Villepin: "We know that there are two risks in Iraq, still, today. One is the division of Iraq, which is, of course, a nightmare for the region. And the second one is a growing role of terrorism. So I think it's very important for the international community to, to try really to put all it's forces together to solve the matter."
Amanpour: "As for withdrawing U.S. troops'€""
de Villepin: "We knew since the beginning, that it was very easy to go to war, but very difficult to get out of Iraq. Because of the fragility of the country, because of the sensitivity of the situation in this region. So now, we have to face the situation as it is; and it is the responsibility of all the international community to help the process and to make sure that we go forward all together."
Amanpour: "And on France's fiery unrest, two weeks of rioting by French youths of African and Arab origin, de Villepin admits these people do face discrimination, but he downplays the violence compared to what's happened in the U.S."
de Villepin: "It's very different from the situation you have known, in 1992 in L.A., for example. You had at that time, 54 people that died. You had 2,000 people wounded in France during two weeks period of unrest. Nobody died in France. So, I think you cannot compare this social unrest with any kind of riots."
Amanpour: "De Villepin insists the cause of French unrest is neither religious nor ethnic."
de Villepin: "There is no ethnic or religious basis of this movement, as we can see in some of the parts of the world. But it is true that the feeling of discrimination, the feeling of maybe not having the same equal chance, but what is interesting is that most of these young people, they want to be 100 percent French. They want to have equal chances."
Amanpour: "Again, de Villepin says the French answer will be significantly different than in the United States. In France, programs will be created to help its youth with housing, education and employment. Is that like positive discrimination?"
de Villepin: "No."
Amanpour: "Is that affirmative action?"
de Villepin: "No, there is a difference between what we stand for in our republic, which is equal chances and affirmative action. Affirmative action is mainly aimed in taking into account the race and the religion. In our republic everybody is equal and we don't want to take into account the color of the skin, or the religion. But we want to take into account the difficulty that one may have."
Amanpour: "How can you help these people if you do not take into account that they are discriminated against because of their color?"
de Villepin: "We are going to triple the scholarships given to the children. We are going to triple the boarding schools in order to answer to the best students in these different neighborhoods, in order to help them in going to university and to have a good career. But the difference between the system you have and the one we have is that we are going to help as well, any young children in France facing difficulty..."

CNN has posted a transcript of the entire interview: www.cnn.com

FNC's Hume: Nets Played Up Murtha But
Went Silent on Lieberman

You read it here first. FNC's Brit Hume on Wednesday night pointed out how "the major media that played up Democratic Representative John Murtha's call for withdrawing U.S. troops largely ignored" Senator Joe Lieberman's call to keep troops in Iraq as "neither ABC or CBS mentioned the Senator in their nightly newscasts while NBC aired a short soundbite."

The November 30 CyberAlert recounted: Twelve days ago when Democratic Congressman John Murtha, who had long been critical of the Bush administration's running of the war, advocated withdrawing troops from Iraq, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts all emphasized his importance and influence as they led with his press conference. CBS showcased Murtha's attack on Vice President Dick Cheney's lack of military service and ABC ran a 90-second excerpt of Murtha. But on Tuesday night, after the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed ("Our Troops Must Stay") from the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate, Senator Joe Lieberman, in which he cited "real progress" in Iraq and argued against withdrawing troops, ABC and CBS didn't utter a syllable about his assessment. The NBC Nightly News, at least, squeezed in a soundbite from Lieberman, though David Gregory also highlighted a puny protest as he relayed how "opposition to the war followed the President today to a Denver fundraiser, as more than a hundred angry critics met Mr. Bush's motorcade." Snowstorms topped the CBS Evening News before David Martin provided a story on how Secretary of Defense "Rumsfeld rattled off signs of progress," which Martin ran through. Anchor Bob Schieffer then turned to Lara Logan in Baghdad who said one of Rumsfeld's assertions "simply isn't true" and undermined a couple of others.

For the CyberAlert item in full: www.mediaresearch.org

On the November 30 Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, during the "Grapevine" segment, Hume relayed:
"Connecticut Democrat Joe Lieberman, who just returned from Iraq, defended U.S. efforts there in yesterday's Wall Street Journal and in a subsequent news conference on Capitol Hill, saying the military has a quote, 'a good plan' for victory in Iraq, and that progress is quote, 'visible and practical' and he warned that such progress could be turned back by a premature withdrawal. But the major media that played up Democratic Representative John Murtha's call for withdrawing U.S. troops largely ignored Lieberman's remarks. Neither ABC or CBS mentioned the Senator in their nightly newscasts while NBC aired a short soundbite. And the Washington Post, New York Times and USA Today, for example, ran not a word."

"Top Ten New President Bush Strategies
for Victory in Iraq"

From the November 30 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten New President Bush Strategies for Victory in Iraq." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. "Make an even larger 'Mission Accomplished' sign"

9. "Encourage Iraqis to settle their feud like Dave and Oprah"

8. "Put that go-getter Michael Brown in charge"

7. "Launch slogan, 'It's not Iraq, it's Weraq'"

6. "Just do whatever he did when he captured Osama"

5. "A little more vacation time at the ranch to clear his head"

4. "Pack on a quick 30 pounds and trade places with Jeb"

3. "Wait, you mean it ain't going well?"

2. "Boost morale by doing his hilarious 'Locked Door' gag"

1. "Place Saddam back in power and tell him, 'It's your problem now, dude'"

-- Brent Baker