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Echo (Echo, Echo, Echo)

Reported by Nancy - December 30, 2004 -

On FNL this morning (12/30), Patti Ann Brown & Bob Sellers again substituted for Brigitte Quinn & David Asman, but they're still part of the echo chamber, rallying to defend Bush for not taking a leadership role in response to the disaster in SE Asia & trying desperately to reinforce the myth that, as Asman said last week, "we're the most generous country in the world by far". Sellers had the unpleasant task of interviewing Lawrence Eagleburger, who refused to address the issues, instead preferring ad hominem attacks on anyone & everyone critical of Bush. Kudos to Sellers for trying (albeit unsuccessfully) to keep that interview on track, & a Bronx cheer to FNL for not inviting a less grumpy guest.

At 12:02pm, Molly Henenberg reported from Crawford, TX, where Bush is still on vacation, that Colin Powell went to embassies in DC to offer sympathy & solidarity. According to her, Powell said the US is generous nation", that $35M is "just a beginning", & that it will take time & "great deal of money" for these nations to recover (clip of Powell). Henenberg said that Bush is "getting updates at the ranch". She also repeated the line that has outraged the radical reactionaries: that "one UN official said Western nations are too stingy" -- & showed a clip of Bush saying the US gives 40% of world aid, we're "very generous" & "kind-hearted" & the person who said that was "very misguided & ill-informed" [comment: this is getting to be FNC's fave clip; I've seen it 7+ times in the past 24 hrs]. Henenberg ended by noting that the UK has pledged $96M for relief efforts.

At 12:05pm, Sellers interviewed Lawrence Eagleburger (former Secy of State) about Bush's response to the crisis. Sellers asked "is it fair to criticize Bush?" Eagleburger replied indirectly, talking about how Natsios [comment: head of USAID] is great, & saying that "these people" would "scream" no matter what Bush did. Sellers wondered if "the UN & US can't get along" what does that say about our relationship. Eagleburger dismissed Egeland [comment: the UN official who made the comment misquoted by Fox & elsewhere] as a "flapmouth" who "doesn't know what he's talking about" & claimed that "in the end we'll spend far more money than anyone else", querulously asking, "what more do they want?" Sellers, to his credit, didn't buy this whine & pressed on, saying "even if everyone watching agrees with you, isn't this a critical moment for the US?" Sellers also noted that "Bush has to deal with critics" & asked if Eagleburger had any suggestions how. Eagleburger again didn't respond to the question, instead attacking the critics, saying they "don't care about substance, just about appearance", that "these people can do nothing but complain" & that "they're gonna hafta take a hike." Sellers again pressed on, pointing out that "there is a PR issue", & asking "how do you bridge that gap?" Eagleburger grudgingly agreed but immediately returned to attacking critics -- "I suppose, but look at the people complaining", "they have a purpose to their complaints", "I don't know that you can win" that kind of argument, "Bush could get on TV & emote but that doesn't help people on the ground" & they [critics] are "deliberately trying to denigrate what we're doing."

Comment: Eagleburger had a long & distinguished career in govt service, predating even his appt as assistant to Kissinger during the Nixon admin. He served in various high-level govt positions under Carter, Reagan & GHW Bush. He spoke out publicly (on Fox News, even!) in 2002 against the war on Iraq. Only last year, he was critical of Bush admin attempts to demonize Syria. I can't imagine what has turned him into the cantankerous, whiny apologist he was today on FNL.

At 12:47pm FNL broadcast live Kofi Annan's statement about the tsunami disaster & world response to the resulting humanitarian crisis (115,000 dead & counting; 1M "displaced" or homeless; 5M in need of immediate assistance; so far $500M pledged as well as contributions in kind). To its credit, FNL stayed with this even after Annan started taking questions at 12:49pm.

General comment: For more info on the topic of the US response (or lack thereof) to this disaster, please see Juan Cole's usual excellent analysis, or today's lead editorial in the New York Times. Either of these sources will give you far more info than Eagleburger's pathetic whiny rant. I hope our readers will suggest additional resources for more info.