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Phantoms in Fallujah

Reported by Nancy - November 8, 2004 -

FNL today (11/8) is still treating the ongoing battle in Fallujah like a big rock concert or a video game, complete with gushing commentary & video of "stuff" blowing up. To be fair, all the cable news channels are gaga for "Phantom Fury" (the cutesy code name of the operation), but the only phantoms are the ones that no network, including Fox, ever mentions: the civilians on the receiving end of those bombs & bullets.

John Cookson led off the 11:00am (ET) hour with a report that included the usual video footage -- bombs falling, tanks rolling, soldiers firing [comment: has anyone ever seen any video of the Iraqi troops supposedly fighting with the coalition?]. Cookson noted that Allawi has given the "green light" to "clean" Falluja (& showed a video clip of Allawi making the announcement) & has sealed the borders with Syria & Jordan. While Cookson did report that Allawi, in addition to imposing martial law, has also imposed a curfew on Fallujah & Ramadi, he -- like other Western reporters -- failed to comment that the last person to impose martial law in Iraq was Saddam Hussein.

Immediately following Cookson, Scott Rutter (an "embed" with the attacking coalition force) reported by videophone from outside Fallujah. Not only did this give FNL the chance to show yet more video of bombs falling & tanks rolling, it spared viewers from watching Rutter read his report -- although it was perfectly clear that he was reading text prepared by the US military. According to Rutter, for example, coalition forces have been "extremely successful in destroying anti-Iraqi forces" [comment: I wish they'd make up their minds what to call them; they've tried "insurgents" & "terrorists" & "thugs" & now "anti-Iraqi forces" -- nice try, propaganda office]. Rutter read off a long & boring list of various types of military equipment involved in the attack. He then tried to sign off to Brigitte Quinn, but Quinn asked if they're "anticipating" urban fighting. Rutter responded that it will be an "intensive clearance" operation [comment: nice try again, propaganda office, right up there with "collateral damage"].

Giving viewers a break from real news, FNL then aired a 2-minute report about how nothing's happening today in the Scott Peterson trial.

At 11:08am (ET), Quinn interviewed Jeff Zeleny (Chicago Tribune) & Viveca Nocak (TIME) about whether Bush intends to appoint Clarence Thomas as Chief Justice to replace Rehnquist. Quinn said the rumor had been reported on drudge & asked each what they thought about it. Zeleny said he thought it was premature to be discussing this, but Novak wasn't at all reticent about speculating, saying it would be an "in-your-face" move if Bush did so. When Quinn persisted, Zeleny politely rebuked both her & Novak, noting that the White House has said it's disrespectful to Rehnquist to indulge in this kind of speculation. Quinn switched to a little Arlen Specter-bashing [comment: a staple on Fox over the past few days, which is now treating Specter as a traitor].

There was more Fallujah, & even more Peterson, but there was nothing really new to report or discuss.

But FNL managed to find another "missing white child" to report on -- this time, it's 2-year-old Taylor Berry in Georgia [comment: at least she's not likely to turn out to be a fugitive from the police, like the last one they ballyhooed].