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Hume's Back, Still Humorless

Reported by Nancy - November 30, 2004 -

Last night (11/29) on Special Report, Brit Hume was back in the driver's seat & the program (which had been slightly better with Brian Wilson sitting in for Hume) sank back to its usual level, complete with a ranting, over-the-top report from Jonathan Hunt about the alleged Oil-for-Food "scandal" (still notably without any mention of involvement by US companies).

Laurie Dhue started off the hour with the headlines -- new Zawahiri tape, SCOTUS refused to review MA case re gay marriage, Scott Peterson update (bannered as "supreme denial"), snow in Nebraska.

When Hume took over the "in-depth" coverage, he opened with the story that Carlos Gutierrez has been nominated by Bush to be Secy of Commerce, followed by a report about this from Jim Angle. Angle's report was essentially a replay of what aired on Fox News Live earlier in the day, complete with clips of Bush making the announcement, Gutierrez responding, & Fox staff commenting on Gutierrez's "remarkable bio". This was updated with a clip of McClellan commenting on the nomination, & some speculation from Angle about whether Snow will or won't stay as Secy of Treasury.

At 6:05pm (ET), Megyn Kendall reported on SCOTUS refusing to hear the MA case about gay marriage & gave some background on a case SCOTUS is hearing about medical marijuana. Again, this had been covered by FNL earlier in the day. Continuing the legal story, Hume reported about a Philadelphia court ruling on military recruiting on campuses.

Following as ad break, at 6:11pm (ET) Bret Baier filed a report on Iran & the agreement reached with the EU & approved by the IAEA re Iran's nuclear program. There were clips of statements from El Baradei (head of the IAEA), Scott McClellan & Peter Brookes (Heritage Fndtn), but Baier summed up Fox's attitude, saying that "many think" Iran is "playing games".

At 6:14pm (ET), David Piper reported from Iraq about ongoing fighting in Ramadi & Mosul, with clips from various US army personnel. Piper ended by saying the US is "rounding up" dozens of "suspects" [comment: it's been a while since I've seen any "happy Iraq" stories on any Fox News program, & this was no different -- simply a list of messes, some of our own creation, some not -- & while there's still no mention of Iraqi civilian casualties, at least they're now counting the Iraqi military & police dead].

At 6:16pm (ET), Dana Lewis reported from Kiev about the mess there following their recent election, with a clip from a US monitor of that election & video of huge crowds protesting for the 8th day. Lewis said international monitors were "shocked" at the "dirty tricks" & "cheating", warned that "angry voters" might become "nervous investors" resulting in an economic meltdown, & added that there's always a danger that peaceful demonstrations could become violent.

At 6:20pm (ET), Hume replayed an earlier clip of Boucher (State Dept) statement re Iran, then interviewed Ken Pollack (Brookings Inst) about Iran. This interview was a cut above the usual Special Report fare because Pollack was interesting, well-spoken & obviously brought a wealth of experience & knowledge to the subject. Hume, despite asking questions with the usual spin. did let Pollack answer without talking over him. It was also unusually long for a Fox interview -- nearly 9 minutes -- allowing for a fairly deep exploration of a complex issue. After discussing how Iran may be stalling for time, trying to get the EU off its back, Pollack pointed out the real economic implications for Iran, & Hume asked if the EU were "stern" enough to make this deal stick. Pollack said he was pleasantly surprised that the EU seems to be holding Iran's "feet to the fire". Hume asked if Iran would cheat, Pollack said we just don't know but the best way is to monitor the situation with on-site inspections & so forth. Hume didn't like being reminded that similar inspections had been working in Iraq, & brought up the military option. Pollack was very negative about the US using military force. They discussed how concerned Israel is about Iran. Hume wanted to know if Iran would use missiles itself or give them to terrorists, Pollack said Iran wouldn't give control of their missiles to anyone else. [General comment: I wish Fox News programs would have more guests like this; the combination of an expert guest & an extended interview time might give viewers more of what they need to know, rather than simply feeding them what they want to hear.]

Following headlines with Shep Smith at 6:30pm (ET), Hume did his usual "Grapevine" segment: a Miami Herald recount says the vote in FL was correct; a poll about Roe v Wade was a "misleading survey" [comment: only because the results differed from what Fox would have you believe]; one of the [Smear Boat Liars] Swift Boat Vets, Steve Gardner, lost his job; the French don't want to speak English at work.

This was followed by Hunt's "report" [comment: I deliberately put "report" in quotes, because Hunt doesn't so much "report" as run around ranting with a mike, talking in a breathless tabloid voice & trying desperately to look important] on the alleged Oil-for-Food "scandal" [comment: quotes here for a similar reason -- it isn't a scandal, it's a bunch of allegations that are being investigated both by the UN & by various Congressional committees]. This time Hunt snagged an interview with Pascua (former French Interior Minister), whom he described as a "poster boy" for corruption, linked to a "series of scandals" but "protected" by [French Pres] Chirac. Part of the interview was included in Hunt's report, complete with Hunt talking over some of it & the translator talking over Pascua so loudly I could not verify whether the translation was accurate. Hunt claimed that Pascua at first appeared "unconcerned" but that later in the interview his "calm facade appeared to crack" [comment: I wish the whole interview had been aired, & with subtitles rather than voice-over translation, because I'm sure Pascua was simply fed up with Hunt's inane repetition of inane questions].

At 6:37pm (ET), Major Garrett reported that a father whose daughter died after taking RU-486 wants the FDA to withdraw its approval of the drug [comment: I wonder how many similar reports about Vioxx were aired by Fox News before that drug was withdrawn from the market?].

Hume then went to his panel -- tonight it was Ceci Connolly, Juan Williams & Fred Barnes, all regulars -- for the usual bout of speculation & gossip.