Appearance Alert!
Brent Bozell talks about MRC's "Worst of the Worst 2014" on FNC's Hannity, 10:30pm ET/PT

Stress Dire Views of Iraqis, Skip How They Don't See Civil War --3/20/2007


1. Stress Dire Views of Iraqis, Skip How They Don't See Civil War
ABC anchor Charles Gibson led on Monday night, the fourth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, with the results of a door-to-door survey of more than 2,000 Iraqis conducted for ABC News. Gibson started the "sobering report" with how "fewer than half the Iraqis, just 42 percent, said life was better now than it was under Saddam Hussein." Gibson, however, failed to explain that when asked, "compared to the time before the war in spring 2003, are things overall in your life much better now, somewhat better, about the same, somewhat worse or much worse?", fewer than 42 percent -- 36 percent -- said worse and 22 thought things are the same. A poll of 5,000 Iraqis reported in the Times of London discovered, as highlighted by FNC's Brit Hume, that "49 percent said life is better under the current Iraqi government" and "just 26 percent preferred life under Saddam Hussein." NBC anchor Brian Williams opened by emphasizing the length and cost of the war: "U.S. involvement in this war is now longer in duration than the Korean War, longer than World War I or World War II..." CBS's Allen Pizzey delivered a dire assessment: "And so four weary and blood-soaked years on, the so-called coalition of the willing has become the coalition of those who are stuck with it."

2. Grilling Rice, GMA's Sawyer Cites Ultra Left-Wing Guardian
On the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war, Good Morning America anchor Diane Sawyer interviewed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about Iraq's progress. Sawyer chose to cite the liberal, America-bashing British paper The Guardian as a source for a question -- about how an Iraqi contended that "Saddam was like Stalin, but the occupation is proving to be worse" -- and also indicated that it was the United States, not insurgents, that was responsible for Iraq's declining electricity supply: "What do you say to the people of Iraq about the fact that four years later, the United States cannot supply them with adequate electricity?"

3. Today's Opening Salvo On Iraq Anniversary: 'Was It Worth It?'
Viewers tuning into Monday's Today show for their 4th year anniversary coverage the Iraq war were assaulted with doom and gloom from the news team at Today beginning with its host Matt Lauer who opened the show asking: "Is the war worth it?" At the top of the show Lauer teased Today's look back on the war: "As the war enters its fifth year America is shell-shocked, the casualties staggering, the price tag in the hundreds of billions. Is the war worth it? And is there still a chance for victory? A look back and a look forward today, Monday, March 19th, 2007."

4. Walters Gushes Over 'Dignified' Chavez 'Married to Revolution'
ABC's Barbara Walters interviewed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for a segment showcased on the March 16 edition of 20/20. And although she did occasionally challenge authoritarian leader, Walters spent much of the interview discussing important topics such as whether Chavez likes coffee, marriage, and generally regurgitating the Venezuelan President's propaganda. Amongst the inquiries from Walters: "What's the biggest misconception about you?" Walters oozed: "You are not married now. Are you -- Do you want to marry, or are you married to the revolution?" Discussing the interview on Friday's Good Morning America, Walters insisted that "what he's trying to do for all of Latin America, you know, they've been trying to do it for years, is to eliminate poverty. But this is not the crazy man that we have heard." She added: "By the way he sings. He sang to me." Then on Friday's Nightline, Walters affectionately recalled: "Well, he was not what I expected. He was very dignified. He was warm, friendly. He likes the U.S. It's George Bush that he doesn't like. He also was very personal. He talked about how hard his life was, that he wished he could be in love but you can't be when you are heading a country." AUDIO&VIDEO See & Hear the Bias - Audio & Video Clip Archive

5. CNN's Blitzer & Cafferty Regret Minimum Wage Hike Not Retroactive
On Monday's The Situation Room, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Jack Cafferty expressed frustration that the Democratic Congress has not yet passed a minimum wage increase, even lamenting that the increase could not be made retroactive. After Blitzer seemed to seriously ask if the minimum wage increase could be made retroactive to November, Cafferty rhetorically exclaimed that it should be "retroactive to ten years ago." Blitzer: "I guess they can't make the increase in the minimum wage retroactive to back November, huh, Jack?" Cafferty: "They ought to make it retroactive to ten years ago. That's the last time anybody addressed these folks." Blitzer: "Don't hold your breath on that one."


Stress Dire Views of Iraqis, Skip How
They Don't See Civil War

ABC anchor Charles Gibson led on Monday night, the fourth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, with the results of a door-to-door survey of more than 2,000 Iraqis conducted for ABC News (and USA Today). Gibson started the "sobering report" with how "fewer than half the Iraqis, just 42 percent, said life was better now than it was under Saddam Hussein." Gibson, however, failed to explain that when asked, "compared to the time before the war in spring 2003, are things overall in your life much better now, somewhat better, about the same, somewhat worse or much worse?", fewer than 42 percent -- 36 percent -- said worse and 22 thought things are the same. A poll of 5,000 Iraqis reported in the Times of London discovered, as highlighted by FNC's Brit Hume, that "49 percent said life is better under the current Iraqi government" and "just 26 percent preferred life under Saddam Hussein."

NBC anchor Brian Williams opened by emphasizing the length and cost of the war: "U.S. involvement in this war is now longer in duration than the Korean War, longer than World War I or World War II. And here are the numbers of great importance to all Americans. So far, at least 3,218 Americans have died. At least 24,000 have been wounded. Estimates of Iraqi dead are close to 60,000..." CBS's Katie Couric began with how "the war goes on, there is no end or victory in sight, thousands of Americans are dead, but the President says victory is still possible." Reporter Allen Pizzey, who on The Early Show had insisted that "Iraqis have very little to be thankful for," also delivered a dire assessment on the Evening News: "And so four weary and blood-soaked years on, the so-called coalition of the willing has become the coalition of those who are stuck with it."

The ABC survey found that 56 percent of Iraqis don't believe there is a "civil war," with 42 percent thinking there is, but ABC's World News skipped that finding. The British poll determined 61 percent don't believe they're in a civil war compared to 27 percent who think they are in a civil war, yet Couric asserted the nation is in the midst of one:
"There seems to be no end to the misery for Iraqi civilians caught in the middle of what even the Pentagon now calls a 'civil war.' From suicide bombings to murders by death squads, Iraqi civilians have paid a terrible price for four years of war. Estimates of the dead range from thirty thousand to as high as six-hundred thousand..."

[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC"s blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The PDF with the full results of the ABC survey. Scroll down to page 14 for the better/worse question, to page 36 for the civil war one: abcnews.go.com

Hume's March 19 "Grapevine" item on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume: "On this fourth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war a new survey, based on an unusually large sample of Iraqis, indicates that contrary to many Western analysts most Iraqis do not believe their country is embroiled in a civil war. The poll of more than 5,000 Iraqi adults was conducted by the British market research firm Opinion Research Business and reported in our sister publication, the Times of London. 61 percent of the respondents did not think the situation qualifies as a civil war there. 49 percent said life is better under the current Iraqi government. Just 26 percent preferred life under Saddam Hussein. And 64 percent want to see a united Iraq under a central national government."

For The Times of London's summary of the poll: "Iraqis: life is getting better," go to: www.timesonline.co.uk

For the same paper's March 18 article about the civil war question: "Resilient Iraqis ask what civil war?" go to: www.timesonline.co.uk

A version of the combined articles as posted by The Australian: "It's better than Saddam, say hopeful Iraqis," online at: www.theaustralian.news.com.au

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth helped gather transcripts of how the broadcast networks led their March 19 evening newscasts:

# ABC's World News. Charles Gibson led: "Good evening. Four years ago, on this day, the war in Iraq began. In four years, so much has changed. And we believe that if you watch World News this evening and through the week, you will come to have a better understanding of where things stand in Iraq, the good and the bad from the Iraq perspective. There is a popular belief that you cannot talk to Iraqis, that you can't get around the country because of the danger, and there is truth to that.
"But ABC's Terry McCarthy traveled throughout Iraq for a series of reports you will see this week. And ABC News has conducted a poll, more than 2,000 interviews of Iraqis in more than 400 towns and cities. It is a sobering report of a nation. Fewer than half the Iraqis, just 42 percent, said life was better now than it was under Saddam Hussein. Why? The answer is the violence -- 80 percent of Iraqis tell us they have experienced attacks nearby. In November 2005 when last we polled, 63 percent of Iraqis said they felt safe in their neighborhoods. Today, that is 26 percent. In November 2005, 71 percent said their own lives were going well. Today, that is down to 39 percent. And perhaps the most chilling questions for Americans and the American military, we asked Iraqis if it is acceptable, in their minds, to attack Americans. In early 2004, 17 percent said yes. Now, more than half, 51 percent, say it is acceptable to attack Americans. And among Sunni Muslims, the number is 94 percent."


# CBS Evening News. Katie Couric teased: "I'm Katie Couric. Tonight, the United States enters a fifth year of war in Iraq. And the President insists it can still be won."
George W. Bush: "It will be won if we have the courage and resolve to see it through."
Couric: "We'll look tonight at the costs, the accomplishments and the search for a way out after four years of war."

Couric began the newscast: "Hello, everyone. Four years ago tonight, this broadcast began with the news that the United States was about to invade Iraq. The White House was telling Americans to prepare for what it hoped would be a short conflict, but also for loss of life. The President said, quote, 'We will accept no outcome but victory.' Tonight, the war goes on, there is no end or victory in sight, thousands of Americans are dead, but the President says victory is still possible. Jim Axelrod begins our coverage of Iraq: Four Years of War."

Allen Pizzey later ended a piece from Iraq: "And so four weary and blood-soaked years on, the so-called coalition of the willing has become the coalition of those who are stuck with it: American troops who can't go home yet and Iraqi forces who have to learn to take their place. The shock and awe invasion has become slow surge and even the White House admits there's no end in sight."


# NBC Nightly News. Brian Williams, in opening teaser: "On the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War, President Bush says more time and patience are needed as Democrats protest the war without end."

Williams led: "Good evening. The war that started with the sharp, blinding impact of precision-guided weapons hitting their targets in Baghdad in the middle of the night has now gone on for four years. The fifth year of combat in Iraq starts now. U.S. involvement in this war is now longer in duration than the Korean War, longer than World War I or World War II. And here are the numbers of great importance to all Americans. So far, at least 3,218 Americans have died. At least 24,000 have been wounded. Estimates of Iraqi dead are close to 60,000. And so far, over 2 million Americans have cycled through Iraq at least once. Earlier, on this anniversary day, before a live national television audience, the President talked about the fight so far and the stakes ahead. We begin here tonight with NBC's David Gregory at the White House. David, good evening."

Grilling Rice, GMA's Sawyer Cites Ultra
Left-Wing Guardian

On the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war, Good Morning America anchor Diane Sawyer interviewed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about Iraq's progress. Sawyer chose to cite the liberal, America-bashing British paper The Guardian as a source for a question -- about how an Iraqi contended that "Saddam was like Stalin, but the occupation is proving to be worse" -- and also indicated that it was the United States, not insurgents, that was responsible for Iraq's declining electricity supply: "What do you say to the people of Iraq about the fact that four years later, the United States cannot supply them with adequate electricity?"

[This item is adapted from a posting, by Scott Whitlock, Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Early in the interview, Sawyer quoted from a Guardian article that quoted the contention the United States occupation is worse than Stalin:

Diane Sawyer: "This morning, we read in The Guardian, and, again, it's symbolic, but, a weight lifter turned -- and mechanic, who was instrumental in pulling down the statue of Saddam Hussein, has gone public now four days [sic] later and he has said, The situation is becoming more dangerous, It's not getting better at all, that 'Saddam was like Stalin, but the occupation is proving to be worse.' The man we saw there pulling down the statue."
Condoleezza Rice: "I don't doubt that there is disappointment on the part of the Iraqis and, indeed, Americans, that the war has not, perhaps, gone better, that, in fact, we are not further along. But I think we have to remember that this is a very difficult process of taking a place that has lived under tyranny and violence for practically its entire history and getting to the point where Iraqis can solve their problems through politics. This is a new government that is committed now to a better life for its people. I think they're making some progress in these first days of the Baghdad security plan, although I would be the first to say there are still going to be hard days ahead and we do have a more committed government, better Iraqi security forces and, frankly, more American help for them in the form of American security forces so that they have a new chance."

The Guardian? Perhaps next time, Sawyer could reference something she read in the latest edition of The Nation.

The Guardian story: www.editorandpublisher.com

The ABC host began the interview, which aired at 7:06am, by quizzing Rice's mood on Iraq: "I want to turn now, because just a few minutes ago we had a chance to talk to the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about all of this. Secretary Rice, thanks for being with us this morning. Four years now to the day since the first air strikes on Baghdad. When you woke up this morning, four years later, what is the word that best summarizes your mood about this war?"
Condoleezza Rice: "Well, I think perseverance. The fact is that we've achieved a great deal with the Iraqis, but the there is still much more to do. And, of course, one is always'€" thinks about the tremendous sacrifice, the men and women who have been lost in this war and the innocent Iraqis who have died. But we also have to remember the 12 and a half million people who voted, Iraqis who voted for a new government and a new life, and I think the new possibilities are that opened up by the Baghdad security plan, which, thus far, is well under way."
Diane Sawyer: "This morning, we read in The Guardian, and, again, it's symbolic, but, a weight lifter turned-- and mechanic, who was instrumental in pulling down the statue of Saddam Hussein, has gone public now four days [sic] later and he has said, The situation is becoming more dangerous, It's not getting better at all, that 'Saddam was like Stalin, but the occupation is proving to be worse.' The man we saw there pulling down the statue."
Rice: "I don't doubt that there is disappointment on the part of the Iraqis and, indeed, Americans, that the war has not, perhaps, gone better, that, in fact, we are not further along. But I think we have to remember that this is a very difficult process of taking a place that has lived under tyranny and violence for practically its entire history and getting to the point where Iraqis can solve their problems through politics. This is a new government that is committed now to a better life for its people. I think they're making some progress in these first days of the Baghdad security plan, although I would be the first to say there are still going to be hard days ahead and we do have a more committed government, better Iraqi security forces and, frankly, more American help for them in the form of American security forces so that they have a new chance."
Sawyer: "We've just heard in the ABC poll and survey about water, electricity, a decrease in the number of kids now, decrease in the number of kids in school and a decrease in the amount of adequate electricity. What do you say to the people of Iraq about the fact that four years later, the United States cannot supply them with adequate electricity?"
Rice: "Well, it's obviously very difficult. The insurgents have decided to attack electrical supply. They've decided to attack oil supply. But I would just note one thing about the electricity. We know now that Saddam Hussein provided only 50 percent of the generating power needed throughout Iraq. And, so, while Baghdad was receiving all of the electricity that it needed, the rest of the country was not. And so some of these numbers can be a bit deceiving. But there's no doubt that the new government, with its investment of nearly $10 billion of their own money in infrastructure projects, is going to be able to do a better job with our help of providing for the Iraqi people."
Sawyer: "On this morning of 3,218 U.S. military fatalities and 24,042 U.S. wounded, not to mention the some 60,000 Iraqis who have been killed. On this morning, would you say to Americans that, if it takes four more years and another 3,000 fatalities, that you'll stay the course, that that must be done, too?"
Rice: "Well, Diane, first, we have to recognize the tremendous sacrifice. And nothing we can say is ever going to, to lessen the hurt for those families that have lost loved ones or for those whose lives have been irrevocably changed. But I would say that the sacrifice, that nothing of value is ever won unless there is sacrifice. I would also say that we need to complete the job because to leave an Iraq in the hands of the likes of the, the finally demised Zarqawi, the al Qaeda that are there, to leave Iraq in the hands of killers and to leave it unstable would have untold consequences for the region and for our security at home. It's difficult, but we are on a course that the President and his commanders believe give the Iraqis a chance to build an Iraq that will be more stable, more democratic, a good friend for the United States, and, most importantly, then, a stability pillar in the Middle East so that America can be safer."

Today's Opening Salvo On Iraq Anniversary:
'Was It Worth It?'

Viewers tuning into Monday's Today show for their 4th year anniversary coverage the Iraq war were assaulted with doom and gloom from the news team at Today beginning with its host Matt Lauer who opened the show asking: "Is the war worth it?" At the top of the show Lauer teased Today's look back on the war: "As the war enters its fifth year America is shell-shocked, the casualties staggering, the price tag in the hundreds of billions. Is the war worth it? And is there still a chance for victory? A look back and a look forward today, Monday, March 19th, 2007."

Then just a few minutes later, NBC's White House correspondent, David Gregory, buttressed Lauer's dour tone claiming victory is out of the question and that the focus is just how soon the U.S. can get the troops out: "Good morning, Meredith. Well it is clear how four years of war have damaged the Bush presidency but the politics of war now are about getting out and for both Republicans and Democrats there are few good options. Four years later the President's plan for war and his predictions are in tatters."

[This item, by Geoff Dickens, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Gregory then threw it to their in-house historian for a dire projection the GOP's future: "For Republicans the political fallout is huge. The war has cost the party control of Congress and analysts say its historic reputation as the party of national defense."
Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian: "The Republican Party is gonna work to have to get out from under the shadow of Iraq, just like the Democrats had to do with Vietnam in 1968."

The following is the entire opening segment as it occurred on the March 19th Today show:

Matt Lauer: "Good morning, Iraq: Four years later. On this date in 2003, the start of Shock and Awe. Then the fall of Saddam but was it Mission Accomplished?"
George W. Bush: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended."
Lauer: "As the war enters its fifth year America is shell-shocked, the casualties staggering, the price tag in the hundreds of billions. Is the war worth it? And is there still a chance for victory? A look back and a look forward today, Monday, March 19th, 2007."

...

Matt Lauer: "And good morning, welcome to a special edition of Today on a Monday morning. I'm Matt Lauer."
Meredith Vieira: "And I'm Meredith Vieira. You know when the United States struck Baghdad from the air trying to assassinate Saddam Hussein four years ago today it looked like the war could be over quickly."
Lauer: "However today U.S. troops remain caught in combat in the middle of what's become a deadly civil war and of course it's divided Americans here at home. Many want the troops out, some now. While others support the President's decision to send additional troops into Baghdad."
Vieira: "So what now? This morning we will talk to the President's Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. We'll also check in with NBC's Richard Engel, who has seen the horrors of war firsthand, ever since the beginning."
Lauer: "Four years later the human toll of this war is devastating. 3,218 U.S. troops have been killed, another 24,042 have been wounded and by one estimate more than 60,000 Iraqis have been killed."
Vieira: "Let's start with a timeline of the war four years later. On March 19th, 2003 President Bush addressed the nation announcing that a multi-national invasion of Iraq was underway. The President's stated goals: to disarm Saddam Hussein, free the Iraqi people and defend the world from grave danger. Shortly after the invasion began Saddam fled Baghdad, within two weeks Iraqi citizens symbolically deposed their former leader, a prelude to the fall of Baghdad, six days later. With the Iraqi army defeated President Bush announced the end of major combat operations and more good news came in December when an American special operations force captured Saddam hiding on a farm near Tikrit. But 2004 brought some of the war's darkest moments. In April photos surfaced of American servicemen and women torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. In September the 1000th American soldier was killed and November was the deadliest month for U.S. troops with 147 fatalities.
"Almost a year after his reelection President Bush saw his goal of bringing democracy to Iraq take an enormous leap forward when the Iraqi people voted to ratify a new constitution but sectarian tensions always simmering under the surface soon exploded with the bombing of the Al-Askari mosque in Samara, one of the holiest sites in the Shia world. A wave of attacks against Sunnis soon followed, accelerating Iraq's path towards civil war. Nouri Al-Maliki, a Shiite, took over as prime minister charged with quelling the violence. In June, President Bush offered his support in a surprise visit to Baghdad but at home the President's support was waning and a day after Democrats swept the midterm elections promising to bring home the troops one of the wars architects, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, resigned.
"Just before the end of 2006 a cell phone video showed the world a sight that many Iraqis thought they'd never see, the execution of Saddam Hussein. Two weeks later President Bush committed more than 20,000 additional troops to the war over the objections of the Iraq Study Group and Democrats on Capitol Hill. The debate over that decision and on the future of U.S. involvement itself continues as American troops carry on their efforts in a war that today, enters its fifth year. It is clear that the war in Iraq dominates our political landscape here in the U.S. Four years later the debate is more heated than ever. NBC's chief White House correspondent David Gregory has that perspective. David, good morning."

David Gregory: "Good morning, Meredith. Well it is clear how four years of war have damaged the Bush presidency but the politics of war now are about getting out and for both Republicans and Democrats there are few good options. Four years later the President's plan for war and his predictions are in tatters."
George W. Bush from March 6, 2003: "I believe we will prevail. I know we will prevail. And out of that disarmament of Saddam will come a better world particularly for the people who live in Iraq."
Gregory: "A vision to topple Saddam, rid the country of WMD and democratize Iraq undone by bad intelligence, inadequate planning and what many consider civil war. Expectations were not met."
Dick Cheney from March 16, 2003: "My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."
Bush being sworn in: "I George Walker Bush."
Gregory: "And a president who was reelected at the height of the war nevertheless suffers as it drags on."
Bush from January 10, 2007: "The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people and it is unacceptable to me."
Gregory: "Even stalwart supporters of the war have become critics."
Richard Perle, former chairman of Defense Policy Board: "The premise was sound, the execution was seriously flawed."
Gregory: "Newsweek's Howard Fineman says the 9/11 President squandered huge approval ratings on Iraq."
Howard Fineman: "He bet that on Iraq and it was a bet that neither militarily nor politically has worked out for him."
Gregory: "For Republicans the political fallout is huge. The war has cost the party control of Congress and analysts say its historic reputation as the party of national defense."
Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian: "The Republican Party is gonna work to have to get out from under the shadow of Iraq, just like the Democrats had to do with Vietnam in 1968."
Gregory: "For Democrats, however, the politics of war also create a trap. Given the President's strong political standing during the war debate few dared oppose him. Now those running for the White House are looking for cover."
John Edwards: "I was wrong. I've taken responsibility for that."
Hillary Clinton: "If we had known then what we know now there never would've been a vote and I never would've voted to give this president that authority."
Gregory: "With the debate over a withdrawal deadline stalled the question is whether satisfying an anti-war public is worth the risk of even greater carnage in Iraq and in the region should troops pull out too soon."
Perle: "I believe that if we pull out of Iraq it will be a huge victory for those who want to destroy us."

Gregory: "Four years later it's also striking how polarized the debate over the war has begun with Democrats and Republicans exchanging accusations about lying, about unpatriotic behavior as again the focus is on how to get U.S. troops back home, Matt."
Matt Lauer: "Alright, David, thank you. David Gregory at the White House this morning."

Walters Gushes Over 'Dignified' Chavez
'Married to Revolution'

ABC's Barbara Walters interviewed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for a segment showcased on the March 16 edition of 20/20. And although she did occasionally challenge authoritarian leader, Walters spent much of the interview discussing important topics such as whether Chavez likes coffee, marriage, and generally regurgitating the Venezuelan President's propaganda. Amongst the inquiries from Walters: "What's the biggest misconception about


| |
More See & Hear the Bias

you?" Walters oozed: "You are not married now. Are you -- Do you want to marry, or are you married to the revolution?" Discussing the interview on Friday's Good Morning America, Walters insisted that "what he's trying to do for all of Latin America, you know, they've been trying to do it for years, is to eliminate poverty. But this is not the crazy man that we have heard." She added: "By the way he sings. He sang to me."

Then on Friday's Nightline, Walters affectionately recalled: "Well, he was not what I expected. He was very dignified. He was warm, friendly. He likes the U.S. It's George Bush that he doesn't like. He also was very personal. He talked about how hard his life was, that he wished he could be in love but you can't be when you are heading a country."

The text below is culled from two NewsBusters postings by Scott Whitlock: newsbusters.org And: http://newsbusters.org/node/11518 ]

Walters, appearing on the Friday edition of Good Morning America to plug the interview, touted a Chavez run for political office in the U.S. Robin Roberts asked: "Did he think he would do very well if he ran for office here in this country?" Walters: "He said, 'You know, if I came to this country, I would run, I could run an election if I changed my name to Nicky Chavez because I am for humanity. I am for disseminating the wealth. I am for helping people.' He says, 'I would win.' So put his name down on the list."

The segment, which aired at 7:13am on March 16, featured an excerpt of Walters' 20/20 interview. The veteran journalist began the piece with a softball question about Chavez misconceptions. Even a question on the Venezuelan President's slurs against President Bush was prefaced by noting how "dignified" he is.

Robin Roberts: "Now, Barbara Walters' exclusive interview with Hugo Chavez. The controversial President of Venezuela. It's the first time any American journalist has interviewed him since he called President Bush the devil at the United Nations last fall. Remember that? Barbara is here this morning. She pulled no punches asking him about his reputation here in the U.S. Here's a look."

Barbara Walters: "You, Mr. President, do not have the best reputation in our country, you know that yourself. What's the biggest misconception about you?"
Hugo Chavez, through translator: "I was speaking once with a lady from the United States, and she asked me, 'Why are you an enemy of the United States? I said, 'Why do you think that I'm an enemy of the United States?' 'I have read the papers. I have seen your picture with Saddam Hussein, with Fidel Castro and with Muammar Gaddafi.' I say, 'Well, Fidel is my friend. Hussein, well, I went to Iraq and met him as a matter of state. But maybe you have never seen my picture with John Paul II, the Pope. Two times I visited him. All my pictures with Clinton, both times we met.' They only publish the pictures to demonize Hugo Chavez."
Walters: "As I talk with you, you are a very dignified man, but we have heard you call the President of the United States a devil, a donkey, a drunk, a liar, a coward, a murderer. What does all this name-calling accomplish?"
Chavez: "Yes, I called him a devil in the United Nations. That's true. In another occasion, another time, I said that he was a donkey because I think that he is very ignorant about things that are actually happening in Latin America, and the world. If that is in excess on my part, I accept. And I might apologize. But who is causing more harm? Do I cause any harm by calling him a devil? He burns people, villages, and he invades nations."
Walters: "Are there any circumstances under which you would invite President Bush to Venezuela?"
Chavez: "No, never. I said in Buenos Aires that he was a political corpse. Fortunately, he will not remain in office for long."
Walters: "I want to talk to you about Iran. As a close friend of President Ahmadinejad do you support him when he says that he state of Israel should cease to exist. Do you agree?"
Chavez: "No, I don't agree. I do not support any idea of overwhelming any country of the world. It is the government and the elite of the U.S. which is overwhelming all the countries in the world."

With the "tough" portion of the interview over, Walters shifted into a discussion of pertinent topics such as coffee and relationships.

Walters: "I want to ask some questions about your life. Would you like some coffee first? I understand you drink too much coffee?"
Chavez: "Yes, but you didn't drink yours."
Walters: "No, well, you want mine?"
Chavez: "Yes, you didn't drink yours. It must be cold."
Walters: "It is cold."
Chavez: "Yes. Give it to me, I will drink it. Yeah, I will drink it. I drink a lot of coffee beyond any advisable or any medical recommendation. But if I had to quit it, I would quit it. As well as I have quit so many intimate things. I left my home, I left my kids. I see them every now and then. I left what is most dearest to me. I had to abandon them. I do not regret anyway because my life is devoted to the pool of the Earth."
Walters: "You are not married now. Are you -- Do you want to marry, or are you married to the revolution?"
Chavez: "It is very hard to be married. I have been married twice. But, it is very hard. But I have a heart here, a beating heart in my chest. I've got blood running through my veins, you know?"

After the interview segment ended, GMA co-host Robin Roberts and Walters repeatedly reiterated the notion that Americans just don't understand Hugo Chavez. The 20/20 host, after spouting more Venezuelan propaganda, also noted how Chavez likes to sing:

Roberts: "Barbara, fresh off the plane. He is a very passionate man that's very apparent."
Walters: "Yes, but, you know, when you meet him, when you see him in the navy blue suit and not the red shirt that he's in, um, he's passionate about his dislike for George Bush. He does like this country and he's passionate about his feelings about America. And he feels that with a new President, that we can be friends. He cares very much about poverty. He's a socialist. What he's trying to do for all of Latin America, you know, they've been trying to do it for years, is to eliminate poverty. But this is not the crazy man that we have heard."
Roberts: "I'm going to ask you that. Because a lot of people in this country really don't know how to take him."
Walters: "Well, you know, because you hear him carrying on, 'He's a devil. He's a donkey.' You know, and I think we have a tendency when we don't understand someone to automatically think they're crazy. This is a very intelligent man. Now, you don't have to believe in socialism. It hasn't worked yet, but he says that it will. But, you know, we say that about fidel Castro, who is his political mentor, his political father, he calls him."
Roberts: "So there's similarities? Because you've spent time with both men. Are there similarities between the two?"
Walters: "Yes, I think there are. I mean, First of all in terms of being socialist, and secondly in terms of their personalities. They're larger than life. Chavez does a television show every night. By the way he sings. He sang to me. I should have shown it to you but it would have ruined the broadcast. And Castro phoned him last week on his television show. He seems very healthy. Chavez says that Castro is still ruling with his hand on one reign and that Raul has his hand on the other. They're very close friends."
Roberts: "They are. The concerns, though, about Chavez here in this country is the fear that he may cut off oil supply here. Is that a legitimate concern?"
Walters: "Look, he says that we're trying to assassinate him, that the CIA Is trying to assassinate him. And he has said that we might invade. If we invaded, and he says that that's not going to happen, those would be the only circumstances he says in which he would cut off oil. But remember, Robin, that he has been selling cheap oil in this country through Citgo, which they own, in the northeast, when there, when there are cold spells like now . He helped in Katrina. Now this could be P.R., But oil is oil. So, so far, no plans to cut it off and that's good news."
Roberts: "Did he think he would do very well if he ran for office here in this country?"
Walters: "He said, 'You know, if I came to this country, I would run, I could run an election if I changed my name to Nicky Chavez because I am for humanity, I am for disseminating the wealth, I am for helping people.' He says, 'I would win.' So put his name down on the list."
Roberts: "So many others are running. Barbara, thank you. Insightful as always. Appreciate you coming by and giving us a little sneak peak. And you can see Barbara's full interview tonight on 20/20."

On the Friday edition of Nightline, Walters appeared again to plug her sycophantic interview with Hugo Chavez, the virulently anti-American leader of Venezuela.

According to the ABC host, Chavez, who has called President Bush a murderer and a killer, simply likes to "poke fun at American leaders." During a discussion with Nightline host Martin Bashir, she also described the Venezuelan President in glowing, even flowery terms: "Well, he was not what I expected. He was very dignified. He was warm, friendly. He likes the U.S. It's George Bush that he doesn't like. He also was very personal. He talked about how hard his life was, that he wished he could be in love but you can't be when you are heading a country."

Walters began the segment by noting how beloved Hugo Chavez is with the Venezuelan people. What she didn't mention, however, is his authoritarian consolidation of power, including the fact that the Venezuelan National Assembly just gave him the power to rule by decree.

Martin Bashir: "President Bush has just returned from a tour of Latin America but one country he did not visit is Venezuela and its controversial President Hugo Chavez. But that's exactly where my colleague Barbara Walters has just been and she's come back with a rare and exclusive interview with the outspoken leader. Barbara, good evening."
Walters: "Martin, thank you. Well, Hugo Chavez may be the one world leader with absolutely no fear about provoking the United States. As President Bush toured Latin America, President Chavez was close behind him, with a continental tour of his own, stoking the fires with fierce criticism of the Bush administration and its policies every step of the way. But how does he get away with it? I spoke to him Wednesday in the presidential palace in Caracas. This is Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez is so beloved by some of his supporters that they hang pictures of him in their living rooms in the poor barrios that ring the city. He talks to them almost every night on a regular TV and radio show. It's called 'Alo Presidente.' 'Hello President' starring him, usually only him. For at least two hours at a time, occasionally he takes callers. Like Fidel Castro. He calls Castro his political father."
Chavez talking to Castro via telephone: "How are you?"
Walters: "He often uses his show and his frequent speeches to poke fun at American leaders. This week alone, as President Bush crossed South America, Chavez called him among other names a corpse and cosmic dust. But President Bush isn't the only one Chavez attacks. While we are talking about name-calling, you have called our Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, illiterate. You said that she suffers from sexual frustration. You are a gentleman. What does it do to say such insulting things especially about a woman?"
Chavez: "Well, that's not exactly what I said. They hung on one word. I would never say or tell a lady in this planet that she has a sexual problem. On the contrary, I have told jokes in relation to her. I once said that maybe she was dreaming of me because she kept on mentioning me all of the time in the Congress of the United States. In Europe, she kept on speak against Chavez, Chavez, Chavez and I said, well, I have to answer in some way. Well, I would like to talk to her but they don't dare talk us to. As a lady, I respect her. For the President of the United States, as a human being, I respect him but they are killing people. They are bombing entire cities in Afghanistan, in Iraq and they do harm, not only to the rest of the world, but to the United States."
Walters: "For all his rhetoric, we couldn't help but notice Chavez seems to have softened on at least one point. For the last two years, he's been insisting he's readying for an invasion from the U.S. He doesn't seem as sure now. Let me clear this up. Do you think the United States has plans to invade your country? And if so, are you arming your people?"
Chavez: "First of all, we expect this not to happen. We would have to go to the mountains and fight from the mountains. As Fidel said, if this happens, a 100-year war would begin. However, we don't want this to happen. We will do anything possible to prevent this from happening but we need to get ready. There is a saying that reads 'If you want peace, just get ready for war.'"

Walters, back on set with Bashir: "And Martin, let's remember, Venezuela is one of the top five sources of oil for the U.S., which may explain why he feels he can say what he likes."
Bashir: "Barbara, this was a rare interview with a man who tends to make some fairly outrageous comments but in your interview he sounded vulnerable, maybe fearful of a possible assassination attempt?"
Walters: "Well, he is fearful. He survived a coup five years ago and he says that George Bush was behind it. He is convinced that the CIA does want to assassinate him and he says that if he is killed, the responsibility will be on George Bush. So yeah, he does feel that."
Bashir: "You've met him in person, you interviewed him, you spent time for him, for all the kind of brash things that he's actually said, how did you find him as an individual, as a man?"
Walters: "Well, he was not what I expected. He was very dignified. He was warm, friendly. He likes the U.S. It's George Bush that he doesn't like. He also was very personal. He talked about how hard his life was, that he wished he could be in love but you can't be when you are heading a country. And he's had to abandon seeing his children. I mean, it was a side of him that, although he's still very tough and he's very angry, this is a man who has some sentiment and he is not crazy as some people seem to think. Not at all."

Notice how Walters blithely repeated, without the slightest bit of skepticism, Chavez's accusations about the United States and the CIA.

Walters' affection for Chavez shouldn't come as much of a surprise. In 2002, she made this absurd comment about freedom in Cuba: "For Castro, freedom starts with education. And if literacy alone were the yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the freest nations on Earth. The literacy rate is 96 percent."

CNN's Blitzer & Cafferty Regret Minimum
Wage Hike Not Retroactive

On Monday's The Situation Room, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Jack Cafferty expressed frustration that the Democratic Congress has not yet passed a minimum wage increase, even lamenting that the increase could not be made retroactive. After Blitzer seemed to seriously ask if the minimum wage increase could be made retroactive to November, Cafferty rhetorically exclaimed that it should be "retroactive to ten years ago." Blitzer: "I guess they can't make the increase in the minimum wage retroactive to back November, huh, Jack?" Cafferty: "They ought to make it retroactive to ten years ago. That's the last time anybody addressed these folks." Blitzer: "Don't hold your breath on that one."

[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Cafferty began his regular "Cafferty File" segment registering his disapproval that Democrats in Congress have still not completed their promise to pass a minimum wage increase: "Remember all the noise about how the Democrats were gonna raise the minimum wage, which has not been increased in more than ten years? Well, don't hold your breath." Complaining that each house had passed a different version of a minimum wage increase that will have to be reconciled later, Cafferty lamented that there's "no indication that's going to happen anytime soon."

Then Cafferty downplayed the importance of going after Alberto Gonzales and other administration officials if it stands in the way of a timely minimum wage increase, as he mockingly referred to the Democrats "having great fun flexing their newfound political muscle at the expense of folks like Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, White House aide Karl Rove and Harriet 'I could have been a Supreme' Miers."

After Cafferty asked viewers to e-mail him with their answers to his question about which matter was more important for Democrats to focus on, Blitzer seemed to seriously wonder about the feasability of a minimum wage increase being made retroactive, which would logically require employers to provide back pay going back to November, as the CNN anchor asked: "I guess they can't make the increase in the minimum wage retroactive to back November, huh, Jack?" Cafferty: "They ought to make it retroactive to ten years ago. That's the last time anybody addressed these folks." Blitzer: "Don't hold your breath on that one."

Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the 4pm EDT hour of the Monday March 19 The Situation Room on CNN:

Wolf Blitzer: "Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's got the 'Cafferty File' for another week. Jack?"
Jack Cafferty: "Indeed I do. Good morning, Wolf, or good afternoon. It's the American way, isn't it? You promise the voters anything in order to get elected, and then, once you're in office, hey, forget about it, do whatever you want. Remember all the noise about how the Democrats were gonna raise the minimum wage, which has not been increased in more than ten years? Well, don't hold your breath. The House and Senate both voted to raise the minimum wage, but the versions of the bill that each passed is different. And before workers see any more take-home pay, a House-Senate conference committee has to reconcile the two versions of the bill. No indication that's going to happen anytime soon. Meanwhile, the Democrats are having great fun flexing their newfound political muscle at the expense of folks like Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, White House aide Karl Rove and Harriet 'I could have been a Supreme' Miers. Talk of subpoenas and hearings fill the air in Washington these days. But what about all that stuff you said you were gonna do about solving the nation's problems? Here's our question, then. What should be the top priority for the Democrats: investigating the Bush administration or solving domestic problems?"

After Cafferty gave viewers his email address, he returned the discussion to Blitzer.

Blitzer: "I guess they can't make the increase in the minimum wage retroactive to back November, huh, Jack?"
Cafferty: "They ought to make it retroactive to ten years ago. That's the last time anybody addressed these folks."
Blitzer: "Don't hold your breath on that one."
Cafferty: "No, no."

-- Brent Baker