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FNL's New Motto - "We Report, We Decide"

Reported by Nancy - January 31, 2005 -

Today (1/31) on FNL, Brigitte Quinn & David Asman tried to make sure viewers interpreted the Iraqi election "correctly" -- as a win-win-win situation for everybody except "some Dems" (with special emphasis on Kerry & Kennedy). Needless to say, there was heavy emphasis on how the election "vindicates" Bush. FNL also threw a bone to their corn-&-porn audience with repeated references to, sleazy teasers for & multiple interviews & reports about Michael Jackson's upcoming trial.

Warning: this is a long one, because there was just SO MUCH. I've focused here almost exclusively on material related to the Iraq election.

When I tuned in at 10:55am (all times ET), Quinn was listing the top stories they'd be following: the "beginning of a new era" in Iraq, with "world leaders touting" the election; "what does the election mean for President Bush?" & "why are some Dems responding so hardshly?"

At 10:57am Andrew Stack reported from Baghdad, noting that 60% voter turnout = 8M people. Stack said that "leaders around the world [are] calling it a mandate" & showed a clip of Iraqi security troops "dancing in the streets"; that supporters of Al Sistanti marched in Baghdad; that Allawi says "terrorists now know they cannot win" (clip o Allawi). Stack claimed that "security during the next phase" will be "crucial" because election winners are "likely to become targets." He mentioned that "insurgents claim" to have downed a UK plane in S Iraq but did not go into detail.

At 10:59am David Lee Miller, embedded in Mosul, reported that people are "feeling pretty good" about the turnout because >6,000 voted in an area of "predominantly Sunni population" in Mosul. Miller added that a "leading Sunni politician here says 40% of Sunnis participated" nationwide. Miller admitted they are "hearing mortar attacks" & "machine gun fire," with 7 US soldiers injured in a grenade attack, but "what's important is" that "election day will be remembered as a day when people spoke out," "telling extremists they will not be intimidated any more."

At 11:02am, Quinn said that "President Bush is calling the election a 'resounding success' " but "some Dems" are being negative, to intro a report from Kelly Wright, who began by reading some quotes from Bush, & showing a clip of "Iraqis dancing in the street." In describing yesterday's election, Wright said that "60% courageously made their way to polling stations" (with another clip of Bush), "but Dems are calling for" immediate withdrawal of US troops, giving as an example Sen Harry Reid (D-NV) says that Bush has left troops "stretched too thin," & that Bush needs to "spell out" an exit strategy (clip of Reid). Wright said that Reid added that Bush needs to "redouble" efforts to find OBL Wright said that Rep Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) adds that Bush could use this to can improve diplomacy. Quinn said this is being called a "pre-buttal" to Bush's State of the Union speech. [Comment: nothing in what Wright cited or showed of what Reid & Pelosi said could even remotely be construed as "calling for immediate troop withdrawal"]

At 11:11am teasers included: the "next big challenge" in Iraq is building their own security force; & "how will the election play for the President back home?"

At 11:14am, saying that "Iraqis refused to be intimidated by terrorist thugs" & 9 homcide bombigs were "overshadowed by joy," Quinn interviewed Bill Kristol (Fox regular). Quinn rhapsodized about the Iraq election, then said that she was "struck by" voter turnout as "high as 40% in some Sunni districts" & asked if this means there's a chance for a "truly legitimate representative government?" Kristol said "sure" then went off his own little rhapsody, calling the election "moving" & "extraordinary" & saying how moving it was to watch Iraqis "stream to the polls." Kristol predicted that "ink-stained finger will become a symbol of success of our policy" & that this election is a "harbinger of new develpments throughout the Middle East." Quinn opined that it "makes you wonder if terrorists can succeed" because the "election shows they do not represent any national movement" & asked if they'll become "more desperate." Kristol said they're "likely to redouble efforts" in order to "prevent momentum" & sneered that "if yesterday was their best, Iraq is progressing" [comment: shades of "Bring 'em on"]. Kristol added that the terrorists are weaker & "we're gonna have to stay," that it would be the "absolute worst thing" to leave now. Kristol disinterred some old campaign rhetoric, claiming that "Pres Bush stuck to it," that he "didn't cut & run." Quinn chimed in with "Which is exactly what some Dems are doing" claiming that that's what Reid & Pelosi said [comment: they did not]. She asked if their statements were "unusual" & Kristol said "they want to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory," but condescendingly noted "there are a lot of decent Dems" who don't share those opinions [comment: the opinions attributed to them by Quinn & Kristol]. Kristol added "I really hope Dems behave responsibly" & "they should prefer Iraqi freedom to defeat for Bush."

At 11:18am teasers included "how will the election affect the Pres's international agenda?"

At 11:23am Quinn noted that Bush "talked about spreading freedom" at his inauguration & that he "praised Iraqis yesterday" & showed a clip of Bush doing that. Then she interviewed 2 "strategists" -- Frank Donatelli (GOP) & Kristen Powers (Dem). Quinn started off by replaying [comment: for the umpteenth time] the video shown by Al Jazeera from a group claiming its missile brought down a UK transport plane. Quinn asked Donatelli if we are "likely" to see more terror. Donatelli didn't answer directly, but instead went into the standard rapture about the Iraq election, calling it a "tremendous first step," & saying that at the "end of the first quarter" the score is "democracy 14, terrorists 0." Quinn asked Powers "Do Dems believe this is the begining of end for terrorists?" Powers asked her to clarify whether she meant the election, & when Quinn said "yes" Powers replied that "most Dems, like most Americans" are happy about it, but said we can't make it "retroactive" nothing that if Bush had gone to Congress & the public saying he wanted to invade Iraq so they could have elections, he likely wouldn't have gotten a lot of support. She noted that "we went to Iraq to find WMDs" & that it "remains to be seen" whether we've really brought democracy to the Middle East, emphasizing that these caveats don't "mean it [the election] isn't a wonderful thing." Quinn said that Reid's prebuttal was "very, very critica of Pres" Bush & wondered "Is this the time to be talkin about" troop withdrawals. Donatelli piled on, saying that "a number of Dems have been courageous in supporting Pres Bush" (specifically citing Joe Lieberman) & saying it was "unfortunate to pick today to set an arbitrary time limit" because "we need to support democratic institutions." Quinn said she'd "give Kristen" the last word to keep it "fair & balanced." Powers noted that the "defense of democracy" line is a new excuse & said "this is not a totalitarian regime, Bush doesn't get a rubber stamp" & added that "this is not a radical position."

At 11:28am, teasers included: "allies in Europe all agreed" the Iraq election was swell; could this be a "turning point for our foreign relations?"

At 11:33am, Quinn said that "President Bush is talking with world leaders" to intro a report from Wendell Goler, who said that Bush has "had several 'I-told-you-so' moments" with those leaders, specifically citing Chirac & Schroeder. Goler said these leaders "all agreed. according to White House officials" the the Iraq election was a "trememndous victory." Goler noted that Bush also phoned leaders of Egypt, Jodran & Saudi Arabia. Goler showed a clip of Bush making an "address to the nation" & added that Bush today phoned interim leaders of Iraq. Goler said that Bush "acknowledged some tough work lies ahead" & that "aides suggest" we should not see yesterday as something that will "speed" our exit from Iraq. Goler said that Scott McClellan repeated that the decision about when to leave will be based on what the military says, & added that the Pentagon says there will be 120,000 US troops in Iraq at least thru 2006 [comment: Does anyone with a functioning brain actually think the US is ever going to walk away from the 14 military bases it has built in Iraq?].

At 11:36am Mike Emanuel, embedded in Baghdad, reported that it was a "very joyous day" for the US military, citing "teamwork" between US & Iraqi "counterparts," calling it "amazing" & "great collaboration" with the "focus on protecting ... the Iraqi people" whom he described as also "joyous." Emanuel said it was "extremely quiet in W Baghdad" in terms of terrorist activity, that things were "going smoothy" with "smiling Iraqis" everywhere. He added that "ballot boxes were successfully moved" to a central locations & said that Iraqi military forces were "literally dancing in the streets" & "showering praise on their commanders."

At 11:40am teasers included Asman saying that "Dems aren't even waiting" for the State of the Union speech, they have launched a "pre-emptive strike."

At 11:42am Megyn Kendall reported on Bush's agenda, saying that Iraq & SocSec are "high on the list." She showed a clip of Pelosi & said that "Harry Reid took a moment to acknowledge" Iraq but "hammered hard" on exit strategy (clip of Reid) & accused the admin of cutting back on police & firefighters which he called the "first line of homeland security." Kendall said that "Whatever [Bush's] 2nd term has in store, it will certainly include some tough fights on Capitol Hill."

At 11:47am teasers included Asman wondering what "effect the historic vote is gonna have on the entire Middle East." At 11:59am Asman read teasers, including: Bush congratulates Iraqi leaders; "does the Commander-in-Chief finally feel vindicated -- what do the Dems have to say now?" At 12:02pm Asman said "some Dems stepping up pressure on Pres Bush" to intro Kelly Wright, who essentially repeated his earlier report. At 12:04pm, Asman said "You've heard what Kerry" had to say about the Iraq election but "does Kerry have a right to be so critical?" He then segued into a brief mention that a federal court criticized the Bush admin's use of military tribunals for detainees at Gitmo. At 12:11pm Asman read teasers, including: "Pres Bush checking in with world leaders who opposed" our Iraq adventure "now that the election has been a success" -- "are they changing their tunes at all?"

At 12:14pm Asman showed [comment: yet another] clip of Bush & said that now world leaders "kind of agree", then interviewed 2 Reps, John Spratt (D-SC) & Mike Ferguson (R-NJ). Asman opened by asking Ferguson "Did you see this coming when you were there a year ago?" Ferguson said the election was "incredible" but there are a "lot of naysayers here." Asman agreed that there are "countless examples of that," noting that "Ted Kennedy spoke last Thursday of continuing failiure" & asked Spratt if it was a failure. Spratt said it's a "milestone," not a failure, but we still have an "arduous task" ahead. Asman preened that the US "got a transitional government in faster than anybody" predicted & said that "things do appear to be" moving right along. Ferguson [comment: like Kristol before him] regurgitated some tired old campaign rhetoric, saying "that's what happens when you know what you believe in" & "the President was right, naysayers were wrong" citing as "evidence" that a "Kurdish woman" was "sobbing" yesterday as she voted. Ferguson claimed that this "success story" shows the "vision & steadfastness of President Bush" & said "we should celebrate this accomplishment." Asman noted that there is a "monetary price" associated with this & asked Spratt if he were "concerned" that the cost of the war "might really jack up our deficit." Spratt listed the billions of dollars already spent & likely to be spent, & said "Let's not diminish what lies ahead of us" because the Iraqis still have "to gain control of the country." Spratt said he was "dismayed" at the slow pace of training the Iraqi army. Asman didn't quite cut Spratt off, but ended the interview rather abruptly.

At 12:18pm teasers included "Senator John Kerry warning Americans not to get too happy about Iraq -- does he speak for all Dems?" At 12:22pm Asman read the "tops", including the Iraq vote.

At 12:23pm Asman said there was a "good turnout" for the Iraq election "but not everybody is impressed." He said that "Sen Kerry said the aftermath is what's important" & showed a clip of Kerry. Asman then repeated his earlier question -- "Does Kerry speak for all Dems?" -- & interviewed Fred Barnes (Fox regular), with a plug for the "Beltway Boys" [comment: why not ask an actual Dem, instead of a radical reactionary talking head?]. Barnes said that "generally Dems like Kerry & Kennedy have been wet blankets." Barnes did the ain't-it-swell routine about the Iraq election, citing"long lines at polling places" & "dancing in the streets." Asman chimed in that it was the "same in El Salvador in 1989." Barnes went on to say that the Iraq election "helped" Bush in particular because of his inaugural speech. Asman commented that "Kerry might have been lukewarm but Ted Kennedy was actually hostile" & showed a clip of Kennedy [comment: not being "hostile" at all, unless you're a Fox "personality"]. Asman claimed that Kennedy said that "US soldiers [are] part of the problem" [comment: which is NOT what Kennedy said, but Asman of course didn't show Kennedy's entire statement]. Barnes expanded on that, claiming that Kennedy "suggests that US troops are a bigger problem than terrorists." Barnes called that attitude "appalling" & said "other Dems have repudiated" it citing Levin. Asman chimed in with "Rockefeller" too, then mentioned a WSJ piece Barnes had written. Barnes said he's "waiting to hear what Sen Hillary Clinton has to say" because the Dems have had a "great tradition for decades" but they "have completely given that up." Barnes felt that Dems "should be excited about a democractic election," admitting that an "election isn't enough but it's a necessary step." Asman mumbled that "Hillary might stand up" because "she's getting out in front of the nay-sayers in her own party" & ended with a plug for the "Beltway Boys".

At 12:27pm Asman noted that Iraqi parents named their newborn girl "Election".

Comments: What ever happened to "we report, you decide"? Forget the tone of voice & body lanuage that Fox "personalities" like Quinn & Asman use (the raised eyebrow, the curled lip, the upbeat or downbeat emphasis on certain words & phrases). Words like "amazing" & "tremendous" & "joyous" are editorial comments, not reporting. Speaking of "not reporting" -- not once did Asman, Quinn, or any guest mention the UN & other international involvement in the Iraq election.

Anybody wanna bet that all the video of "Iraqis dancing in the streets" turns out to be from the same source that provided us with video of "Iraqis toppling Saddam Hussein's statue"?

I'm sure I'll have to watch Kristol & Barnes continue with their patronizing pontificating tonight on "Special Report". AAARRRGGGHHH.