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Napolitano Turns to Bias on The Big Story

Reported by Marie Therese - January 9, 2005

Judge Andrew Napolitano filled in for John Gibson on Friday's edition of The Big Story. The top story dealt with the Pentagon's decision to send retired four star General Gary E. Luck to Iraq to take a fresh look at the way things are being run, specifically with regards to the efficiency of the training of Iraqi army. The General's history includes being the former US Head of Forces in South Korea and also an advisor to General Tommy Franks at the beginning of the Iraq War. The General will be leading the 6th assessment team to go to Iraq. Napolitano reports that Pentagon officials say this is "nothing out of the ordinary. However critics see it as a sign that training (of the Iraqi army) is not going well." This is the only time during the entire segment where a critical view is mentioned.

Footage was then shown of Pentagon spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, saying in response to the criticism "If it turns out that everybody is happy with the way this goes, they'll be a thousand people claiming credit for it. And if it turns out that it's less useful than others wished it might be, they'll all blame Rumsfeld." Di Rita's remarks are clearly made inference to the fact that any critics of this
6th assessment team are flip-floppers. Di Rita also obviously appeared to be attempting to gain sympathy for Rumsfeld, which is wise considering the bad PR Rummy has recently garnered for himself with relation to voiced concerns from the troops.

Napolitano went on to interview Fox News Military Analyst, Retired Major General Bob Scales. His opening question to Scales was:
"Can a little 'Luck,' General Gary Luck, help the situation in Iraq?"

SCALES: Well, First of all, a little truth in advertising Judge, Gary Luck's been a friend of mine, for 20 years. I served with him when I was a General in Korea. If anybody's gonna get to the bottom of
anything, it's gonna be Gary Luck. If anybody's gonna get it right or come back with the right information, 'fair and balanced' it's gonna be Gary Luck."

Scales basically admitted his clear BIAS in favor of Luck from the get-go, so it was predictable how the rest of this interview would and did play out.

SCALES: The thing that makes him (Luck) so valuable and the reason he's my friend is that he is a classic warrior. Nobody knows war better than Gary Luck. He's studied it, he's experienced it, he is an absolute straight shooter. And if anybody's gonna come back with the right spin, if you will Judge, it's gonna be Gary Luck."

NAPOLITANO: Well I know another 'straight shooter' - it's Gen. Bob Scales.

(COMMENT: It will indeed not be surprising if Gen. Luck comes
back from Iraq with the "RIGHT SPIN" on the current situation in
Iraq. Given the way FOX has built up the credibility and accuracy of Gen. Luck's capabilities, it's more than likely that he's not going to be making any criticisms of the Bush administration's handling of the training of Iraqi soldiers or any other factors of the invastion of Iraq.)

At the end of this interview, Napolitano posed the question to Scales as to whether it's likely Gen. Luck will be advising Rumsfeld or the President about whether or not we should stick to the Jan 30th date
for elections in Iraq.

SCALES: Look Judge, a time for opinions on the Jan 30th election are over. It's gonna happen. It has to happen. If it doesn't happen it's a victory for the insurgents.

Again, it's clear FOX picked another in a long line of military analysts who support the Bush Administration's viewpoint on the Iraqi elections and who would make no mention as to why there
may be a need to push back the election date for safety reasons..

The next segment of The Big Story dealt with the "Sharp Divide" in public recent AP opinion polls showing a 49% approval versus a 49% disapproval rating for President Bush with a +- 3.1% margin of error. The topic under discussion was "Will divided public opinion get in the way of the President's agenda?"

Napolitano's two guests were President Bush's former deputy assistant, Brad Blakeman, and former spokesman for Al Gore, Doug Hattaway. Napolitano started off by asking Hattaway what he made of this sharp divide in the polling data.. Hattaway responded by saying that this is the lowest approval rating for a re-elected president in over 50 years and that it should put to rest Bush's talk of
having a mandate to push his agenda. Hattaway also mentioned that it was "paltry political capital to be spending on divisive issues like privatizing Social Security."

Here Napolitano interjected, asking Blakeman in a leading and almost rhetorical manner if the President should really be worried about a Poll now after he's just won a re-election by 3 and a half million votes and 40 electoral votes.

Blakeman responded, as one would expect, in a leading manner, staitng that the "only poll that mattered was the one on election day." Blakeman went on to remind viewers that more seats were picked up in the Senate and House by Republicans this last election. He heaped praise on Bush's huge tax cuts and mentioned that the President also had to deal with "corporate scandals" shortly after taking office (ahem...starring Bush's own buddy Ken Lay) and how he got legislation passed to clean that up. He finishes out his response with the statement "His (Bush's) greatest strength is those
who underestimate him."

Napolitano commented to Hattaway that Blakeman "makes a good point" with regards to an increase in the senate and congressional seats and not surprisingly asks Hattaway in a clearly biased and rhetorical manner responded: "Should the President really be worried? It's just a poll at a holiday time of year." It would be interesting to note the difference in Napalitano's reaction to this same poll if the percentages were showing clearly more favorable percentages for Bush. Gee, somehow I get the feeling this poll would then be declared by FOX to be irrefutable evidence of President Bushes political capital!

Democrat Hattaway responded well, given the obvious opposition he faced, not only from Blakeman but also from the supposedly "un-biased" FOX interviewer. He went on to say that, in his opinion, "[it has ] never been a priority for the President or Republicans who run congress to be concerned with uniting the country" so why should Bush care about the 49% who don't support him? Napolitano interrupted Hattaway at this point and fired the question at him: "The 49% who don't like him - what are they complaining about?" in an aggressively incredulous tone - almost as if he were saying "What's there tocomplain about? Everything's peachy-keen! Duh?!"

Hattaway calmly cited complaints from the 49% as likely being due to Bush having run up record deficits during the last four years and distress over his plans to "cut social security benefits so he can give tax cuts to rich people." Hattaway actually acted in more of a "fair and balanced" manner than Blakeman or Napolitano when he mentioned that Bush got 80% approval ratings after 9/11 and had legitimate political capital at that time but squandered it since.

Napolitano then again fed the answer to Blakeman by asking the question "Didn't he (Bush) really, Brad, earn political capital in the election with the increased majorities in congress? And doesn't he have a relatively ambitious agenda read for us for the next year?"

Blakeman responded on cue: "He certainly does! The President is going to lay out a BOLD vision. Social security is broke for future generations. This President is willing to fix it so future generations
will have peace of mind when they retire." Blakeman also mentioned with joy the President's plans to revamp the tax code.

As expected, Napolitano then fired a comment at Hattaway about the need to give Bush credit for having the courage to roll up his sleeves and make major changes in Social Security as well as revamp the tax code.

Hattaway held his ground and responded to the biased question feed by saying that he believed Bush is getting "pushed by corporate interests" who are likely to get a bonanza by having social security money poured into the stock market. He went on to point out that Social Security is not in crisis right now and that Bush is "glossing over the cuts that will take place as a result of reform." He added that he WILL give Bush credit for pushing his agenda but doesn't feel like the country is uniting around it. Hattaway finished out his response by reiterating his feeling that he didn't think Bush cared about uniting the country or cared what the half of the country opposing him thinks.

Napolitano ended the interview by asking Blakeman if the Democrats will use the filibuster to thwart Bush's judicial nominees, who appear to be extremely pro-life?

Republican Blakeman responded with a warning that on this and on all issues the Democrats "do so at their own peril." He cited former Senator Tom Daschle as an example of someone who was an obstructionist towards the President. Blakeman stated that "The President has reached out his hand in the second term to the new Democratic leadership and has said 'work with me and we'll do great things for this country. Don't work with me and you do so at your peril.'"


It's evident this outstretched hand from Bush really translates as "my
way or the highway!" The most offensive element I found in this interview was not the two guests' discourse, as they were clearly and rightly representing opposing viewpoints, but the obvious and blatant BIAS on Napolitano's part by taking Blakeman's side on every issue was disgusting. There was no doubt who Napolitano agreed with on a personal level and he did not disguise the fact,
proving that FOX commentators are ever so "fair AND balanced" ... yeah, right?!

Report submitted by Laura.

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