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Special Topic Area: The Iraq Elections

Reported by Marie Therese - January 29, 2005

For all of our readers who want to comment about the Iraq Elections, we'rve arranged for this area to be open until Monday morning. We News Hounds will be posting at random times during the same period. Please observe our few simple rules. Thanks for supporting our site and enjoy the conversation!

This post will be updated with "Tantalizing Tidbits from FOX" occasionally during the voting process.

(All times EST.)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

7:39 PM - Cal Thomas used the words 'like dominos" and "domino theory" to describe what will happen if these elections are a success, i.e., just like dominos, Iran will become a democracy, then other Middle Eastern countries will follow. Over the past week, other FOX hosts and guests have proposed the same domino theory, only in the negative, i.e., if the Iraqi elections fail, just like dominos there will be revolutions throughout the Middle East resulting in the toppling of governments friendly to the USA and a threat to our supply of oil.

8:09 PM - Tony Snow said shortly after polls opened: "People are pouring in" while showing an old clip of election workers delivering boxes. About an hour later the story became "people are trickling into the polling stations."

8:14 PM FOX cameraman in Baghdad very rudely pushed down the head of an Iraqi newsman whose head was in the way of his shot.

8:29 PM FOX News Military Analysts retired Gen.Paul Vallely and retired Lt. Col. Bill Cowan claimed that they were briefed two weeks ago in Baghdad about the security plans for today's elections.

11:59 PM - During an interview by Tony Snow with guests David Dreier and Adam Schiff both Congressmen from California, Cong. Schiff proved himself a dyed-in-the-wool DINO. The interview ended wtih this little exchange:

SNOW: Contrary to popular opinion, we bring Democrats and Republicans together on the FOX News Channel.

SCHIFF: Absolutely.

DREIER: You're a uniter not a divider!

Everyone laughed.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

12:30 AM - Rita Cosby read a Reuters report about a blast in West Baghdad.

1:01 AM Geraldo Rivera announced with tears in his eyes that in the city in West Baghdad where he was stationed the people were "turning out in droves" to vote. The American soldiers behind him did not smile, stood there totally stone-faced. Several times he asked that FOX run the videos he shot of the West Baghdad. The various video clips that were shown did not seem to bear out his claims. One would have expected to see videos of lines formed outside the polling place.

What FOX showed was a (1) clip of two men voting, two women voting, a large, rather empty room, populated mostly by election workers, (2) very out of focus clip that ended abruptly that seemed to be of the outside of the polling place (3) clip (long shot) of three women and several men walking, one of the women had a baby in her arms, while Rivera waxed enthusiastic, saying "turnout has been spectacular." Yet NONE of the visuals backed up his hyperbolic statements.

He then interviewed an Iraqi man who spoke good English and claimed that he was unafraid of the terrorists (his accent was interesting) and made a phone call to Ahmed Chalabi, disgraced financier. Chalabi, of course, gave the usual pro-American spiel and Rivera mentioned that his "friend" Chalabi was undoubtedly going to win a place in the new Iraqi government.

1:08 AM Shepard Smith announced that there has been a suicide bombing at a polling place, a school in the Mansour (Mansoor?) district of Baghdad. Fortunately, he reported there was no one in the polling place at the time.

Why am I am reminded of that clip from OUTFOXED in which the FOX reporter is ordered to make a big deal out of Ronald Reagan's birthday, when only a fourth grade class has shown up? Are we seeing the same thing here?

So far FOX has only shown what looks like the same polling place, populated mostly by soldiers and poll workers.

The lower third graphic stated that the first two hours of voting are critical.

Is Rivera telling the truth? Or is this a hype to try to get more people out to vote?

1:27 AM - FOX showed long shot of about 25-30 people as Rivera claimed, during interview with Iraqi Ambassador (who's in Dubai), that it was a clip of large groups of people "walking to the polls" - it looks suspiciously like a longer version of a shot we saw a few minutes ago.

And why aren't they showing the polling places in the Kurdish north and the Shi'a south? Is it because turnout there is great and they're trying to get the Sunnis out to the polls?

1:35 AM FOX webcrawl just announced that the government of Qatar - buckling under to pressure from the Bush administration - has agreed to sell Al Jazeera to a private company.

More later.

2:05 AM - David Lee Miller reported from Mosul that there were 100 ballots cast over a three hour period.

2:07 AM Interchange between Geraldo Rivera and Rita Cosby. RIvera reported from the roof of a building in West Baghddad accompanied by American troops.

GERALDO RIVERA: Rita, it's a great day. It's a wonderful day. The terrorists can go to hell. You know, they're not gonna screw this up. This is gonna happen. Back to you.

RITA COSBY: I don't know if your camera can pan a little, Geraldo. Before, when you were showin' these amazing shots, I thought this was just a great moment, Geraldo, seeing husbands and wives, women makin' their own decisions. I mean it was just so symbolic. These families goin' [to vote]. Can you see anybody walkin' behind you now?

RIVERA (turns to look behind him): Uh, there's a - it seems that most of the big, big rush has already - (to cameraman) if you guys pan down there - (to soldiers) you guys, get out of the way - (to Cosby) you'll see where they all are now. [Camera pans to left across the roof.] They've cast their votes, they're on their sashay. It's a ways for Christian Aldamini [sp?], our ace cameraman, who coined the phrase "the dawn of a new day" at dawn today - he's good with the - [Camera finishes panning, shows mostly the back of the heads of two soldiers] There they are, Rita. [Comment: I counted about 10 Iraqis when I froze the frame on my tape.]

It's amazing. There's a polling place down there. They're all out. They're on the streets. It's happening. Ya' know - um - I don't know nationwide what the turnout is, but I think it's reasonable to suggest - we've heard from David Le Miller in Mosul - we've heard from Mike Tobin in Baghdad - we've heard from Dana Lewis - we've heard from our other correspondents - it's not a scientific survey but I'm gonna tell ya', it seems like 60% is a pretty, pretty fair guess and in some neighborhoods over 80% - the Shi'a neighborhoods. I just hope and pray that the Sunnis have showed up. That, I can't tell ya' - this is a mixed Shi'a-Sunni community but I can't give you any kind of scientific read on whether or not that aspect of the community has turned out to vote. I hope so.

3:02 AM - Shepard Smith reported that there was a third suicide bombing at a polling place. He then read a report, saying: "...not one single member of the United States military has been killed. Not one member of the United States military has been injured this entire calendar day ... Also seized today: 60mm mortar recovered near a polling station .. some Iraqi police killed and wounded as well. The biggest concern ... those vehicle-born devices and not a single one has exploded anywhere in the country, according to the best source that we have ... Now, let's talk about turnout, which is the most important thing of the day. It comes down to this - if the turnout is good and it's representative across the country, the hope is that it will be seen as legitmate and those who like to categorize themselves as people who were disenfranchised here will not be able to do so ..."

He went on to note that in Al Mansour (Mansoor?), a suicide bomb was exploded near a voting place but the dozens of people who were in line continued to wait to vote and voters were still stnading in line "by the dozens." He noted that the polling place for Abu Graib - "the site of the prison tortures and all the rest" was moved to a town 13 miles away. Smith said his sources informed him that there were aerial photos of thousands of residents of Abu Graib walking the 13 miles to vote and he promised to air the pictures when they became available.

Smith then went on to describe a very quiet Sadr City where they were averaging about 600 voters per polling place.

He concluded hs report by saying: "Turnout high across the country, long lines at polling stations .. the big news picture is that this day, according to officials with whom I've spoken, is going extremely well. Are there problems? You bet there are problems .. There have been mortar attacks ... suicide bombers .. dozens of people have been injured or lost their lives today. That's the secondary headline. the headline is that this day is going very well."

3:07 AM - David Lee Miller reported from Mosul that there were now140 ballots cast.

4:04 AM - David Lee Miller reported from Mosul - "a predominantly Shi'ite city" - that there were "200 or so" ballots that had been cast. He noted that it was still only 5 hours into the voting process and local officials expected those numbers to increase.

4:51 AM - FOX News' Gregg Jarett reports the 4th (or 5th) suicide bomber.

4:55 AM - On MSNBC, blog watcher Will Femia, an MSNBC.com contributor, who was monitoring live input from Iraqi blogs, had this to say: "...(I)t troubles me a little bit that, if turnout isn't as high as expected, that the only reason that could be found is, well, they would be intimidated by the insurgents - because, really, there are som people who - they have some conspiracy sense that, well, 'the election is predetermined, [that] this minister of such-and-such shook Bush's hand and, therefore, he's guaranteed to win, so I'm not even going to bother.'

Some people feel that the election's too soon, that the - whatever comes of it, won't be productive for Iraq and the whole thing could do more harm than good with a government that isn't ready to be a government. So, there, we've seen a few reasons why people wouldn't vote besides being afraid ... It's a mix and it's definitely a concern of the people who want .. the elections postponed, is that they know full well that one of the first issues is going to be 'OK, get the Coatlition forces - or US forces - out' and will the country be prepared once that happens."

[Comment: See mention of Gerlado Rivera's phone conversation with Ahmed Chalabi at 1:01 AM where Geraldo says that he's sure Chalabi will win a place in the Iraqi National Congress.]

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