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Unholy Trinity

Reported by Judy - October 28, 2004 -

Fox and Friends today (Oct. 28) continued its focus on protecting Bush from having to explain what happened to tons of the explosives RDX and HDX stored at Al Qaqaa in Iraq. Their latest tactic is to portray the story as an attempt by the U.N. to defeat George Bush in next Tuesday's election.

The co-hosts interviewed Cliff May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, whose column for Scripps Howard News Service today claims the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is spearheading the effort. (May praised the F&F co-hosts for their knowledge of the issue in a column posted on line without 90 minutes of the interview. He'll be invited back again.)

In a nutshell, May claims that "a senior U.N. official may have attempted to influence the outcome of an American election by spreading false information. And major U.S. media outlets allowed themselves to be manipulated in pursuit of that goal."

In criticizing The New York Times, May takes on his former employer, having worked for the newspaper for nearly a decade in various capacities, including foreign correspondent. Before becoming head of the foundation, May was in charge of communications for the Republican National Committee. (Kind of works against the "all reporters are liberals" theme that the GOP likes to push, doesn't it?)

May offers no evidence of U.N. election meddling -- only the information that the IAEA head opposed the Iraq invasion and that, according to "a high U.S. government official," the Bush administration opposes a second term for the official, Mohamed ElBaradei. But it makes a good story, particularly for a segment of Bush's base -- conservatives, many in rural areas, who want the U.S. out of the U.N.

On Fox, May said there was "reason for a lot of suspicion" that ElBaradei released the document to help defeat Bush. No proof, just "reason for a lot of suspicion."

The co-hosts also made references to a Washington Times story which purports to claim, according to Steve Doocy, that there is "a real strong possibility" that the Russians moved the material for Saddam Hussein.

Bill Gertz's story offers no proof. Bill Gertz flatly states in his lead that, "Russian special forces troopos moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation." Notice that he says nothing about Al Qaqaa in making the assertion.

Gertz pulls the bait and switch in the next paragraph when he writes that a Defense Department official "believes" that the Russian troops "almost certainly" removed the material from Al Qaqaa.

The episode is a good illustration of how the right-wing echo chamber works. A think tank runs what is essentially an opinion piece and is invited on Fox News to repeat his inflamatory assertion. Another right-wing organization runs a story that claims to have proved something based on proof of something else, and Fox News touts it.

Right-wing think tanks, the Washington Times, and Fox News -- truly an unholy trinity.