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Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Reported by Nancy - January 28, 2005 -

On FNL today (1/28), viewers got a preview of what will be going on this weekend on Fox: wall-to-wall "we're so swell/they're so swell" coverage of the Iraqi elections. There was repeated self-promotion for how great Fox's coverage would be all weekend long, citing the usual "full team Fox coverage" & bleating about how there would be specials with this or that Fox "personality" (or, as Fox calls them, "journalists"). There were multiple interviews on the subject of the Iraqi elections, all bloviating & none contributing anything useful. So be warned: stay away from Fox this weekend. You've just read a recap of what their entire schedule is going to look like.

There were the usual mini-distractions -- or, as Rick Folbaum called them, "switching gears" -- with short blurbs about an Amber Alert in IN, the Michael Jackson case, the train crash in southern CA, an "aspiring actress" was killed during a mugging in NYC, P&G buying Gillette, etc. But the overwhelming majority of the segments, teasers & promos were about Fox's coverage of Iraq & the elections, with the rollercoaster effect -- it's violent, they're voting, it's violent, they're voting [comment: lather, rinse, repeat]:

11:31am (all times ET) - Patti Ann Brown read headlines, including 26,000 Iraqi expats registered in US; US troops "beefing up" security in Iraq.

11:32am - FNL showed video of Iraqis voting in the US. Brigitte Quinn oohed & aahed about "so many people voting" while Folbaum noted that "one voter said he felt 'born again' " & then Quinn said that the ink voters get on their fingers is a "mark of freedom."

11:33am - Geraldo Rivera reported about Tikrit. He said that "As of 6pm tonight curfew will be in place" [comment: can you say "West Bank"?] & that "body armor is now mandatory" for US troops, who are doing "everything they can" to "thwart the terrorists." There was the obligatory interview with a confident Army guy (Col Sinclair) saying swell things. Rivera noted that there was a "final pre-election meeting" of the joint command (US military, Iraqi police, Iraqi military commander). There was video of an Iraqi election worker who Rivera called "brave young man indeed." There was a tour of a military camp. Rivera said he hopes "the people of Tikrit have the true grit to turn out & vote," adding that turnout "may be comparable to" turnout in US cities & "wouldn't that be saying kiss my you-know-what to the terrorists."

11:37am - Quinn noted that Zarqawi aides "are talking" & Bret Baier reported from the Pentagon about a "detailed briefing" that was a 2-way conference with Iraq's deputy PM, with a clip of him saying swell things ("I predict to you that voter turnout in the Iraq elections will be better than" US turnout). Apparently with the new info from Zarqawi's "chief logistical officer" we are getting a better picture of the Zarqawi network [comment: I wish they'd stop making up corporate/military titles for anyone & everyone who was ever in the same town as Zarqawi].

11:42am - teasers include "how much does the election [in Iraq] reflect on President Bush's Iraq policy?"

11:45am - Folbaum cited some Fox/Opinion Dynamics polls asking people questions like when do they think "the troops" will come home, then interviewed Steve Murphy (Dem, former Gephardt campaign manager) & Fred Malek (GOP, former GHWBush campaign manager) about -- surprise, surprise -- the Iraqi election. Malek was upbeat, Murphy less so but still positive. Folbaum's questions turned out to be more about -- surprise, surprise -- Bush than about the Iraqi election (e.g., "Is he [Bush] spending too much political capital?") & included the usual Dem-bashing (e.g., "sounds like some Dems think" negative things) & flag-waving (e.g., "How can anybody be rooting against success for Iraqis & our troops?") While Murphy didn't call Folbaum on that phony assertion, he did do a good job of pointing out how Bush has "constantly" told us he makes no mistakes, that everything's fine, & "that's what irritates people." Malek made one puzzling comment. He said that "a year ago we had no free elections in the Middle East" but "now we will have had 2." His map of the Middle East must not include Israel or Turkey but must include Afghanistan; neither Folbaum nor Murphy corrected this mis-statement nor asked Malek to explain what he meant.

11:55am - teasers included "historic votes in a historic election"

12:00pm - Andrew Stack in Baghdad reported on how security is being "ramped up", with roads closed, & how US troops are "digging in on the borders." There was a clip of a Major being confident. Stack noted that there were 2 car bombs near police HQ in Baghdad today, & attacks on polling stations in 6 places, 5 in Baghdad alone. But exiles in Jordan are voting! Meanwhile, Baghdad "feels like a city under siege" & the "new curfew is already in effect."

12:02pm - Bret Baier essentially repeated his earlier report, this time calling those arrested Zarqawi's "lieutenants"

12:05pm - Geraldo Rivera essentially repeated his earlier report, from Camp Victory in Baghdad

12:07pm - While FNL showed live pix from Nashville TN of Iraqi voters, Folbaum waxed enthusiastic about Fox's coverage of the Iraqi elections. The coverage will be "all weekend long," "live around the clock" & there will be a special with Shep Smith in Baghdad & other specials with Bill O'Reilly, Greta van Susteren [comment: both safely in NY] & Geraldo Rivera (location not specified).

12:13pm - teaser: "We'll be joined by a very important Senator to discuss security for the Iraqi election"

12:15pm -Folbaum interviewed Sen Joe Biden (ranking Dem, Foreign Relations Comm) from the WEF in Davos about -- surprise, surprise -- the Iraqi election. Folbaum's asked "What will define" success & Biden said it will be a success "if the Iraqi people think it is." Biden said he was "hopeful" & thought there might be a "larger turnout than expected." Folbaum noted that Biden had earlier commented that he didn't see a "James Madison type waiting in the wings" & asked if Allawi could be that person. Biden said no, & repeated what he & everyone else have been saying for weeks, about the "possibility of Iraq getting representative government" which Biden thought might not happen "in my lifetime," but said the election is "a very important beginning." Folbaum mentioned the Fox poll about bringing US troops home & asked Biden when he thought that might happen. Biden said it will happen "when we accomplish our goals." Folbaum coyly said "You sound an awful lot like a member of the Bush administration" & added that Biden's statements "echo" GOP statements. Biden replied that Dems & GOPs in the Senate agree on a lot of things.

12:22pm - Folbaum interviewed Fred Kagan (military historian, author of "While America Sleeps") & Mike Mazzetti (LA Times) about Zarqawi's "aides" who have been arrested. There was some bloviating about that, then Folbaum repeated the question he had asked Biden, about "What will define" success in the Iraqi election. Both Kagan & Mazzetti said they agreed with Biden, with Kagan adding that it will be a success "if the Iraqi people believe it" & Mazzetti adding that "ultimately it's their country" & "they'll be the ones who determine if it's a success or not."

12:26pm - teasers included: "Fox team coverage from MI, Iraq & around the world"

12:31pm - Eric Shawn reported from Southgate, MI (near Detroit) about Iraqis already starting to vote, calling it an "emotional & inspiring scene." There were clips of Iraqis voting. Shawn claimed, falsely, that "they've never had a fair & free election before" & wrapped up by commenting that the polling place was appropriately next to a "garden center" because the Iraqis are "sowing the seeds, planting the seeds of democracy ... of hope."

12:38pm - there was an ALERT to report that the US Army confirms a copter crash in SW Baghdad, not from hostile fire, no word yet re casualties.

12:39pm - preview of Dayside, which will include large segments on -- surprise, surprise -- the Iraqi elections

12:43pm - another ALERT about the copter crash, still no more info re fate of crew.

12:46pm - teaser included: "Iraqis voting in the US & all over the world"

12:50pm - more info on copter crash - it's a "small scout copter" with "typically only 2 people on board"

Rick Folbaum was in for David Asman, as usual on Friday, so at least there was no lame "Asman Observer."