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Election in Iraq? It's All About Bush

Reported by Nancy - February 1, 2005 -

On Special Report with Brit Hume last night (1/31), Fox continued beating the drum over the Iraq election. As on FNL earlier the same day, it was portrayed as an absolute success that vindicated Bush policies. In fact, if you listen to Fox, you'd think the whole Iraq election was specifically & only about Bush.

Opening the program at 6:00pm (all times ET), Hume said "We'll bring you up to date on what the Dems have in store for the President's agenda." Then Carol Iovanna read headlines.

At 6:01pm Hume said that Iraqis are "basking in their success" & Dana Lewis reported on the Iraq elections. He said "they went astoundingly well" with voter "as high as 60%." He noted that there were "celebrations" in Basra & a pro-Sistani march in Baghdad. Lewis said that Allawi "vowed to unite" the country's diverse group (clip of Allawi) [comment: so now Allawi's "A Uniter, Not A Divider"?]. Lewis mentioned that a UK transport plane went down yesterday (cause at this point unconfirmed) but said that the "successful election undermined support for the insurgency." He also noted that there was riot at a US-run prison in Um-Kasr; US soldiers opened fire, killing 4 Iraqis & wounding 6.

At 6:04pm Hume said that Bush "spent some time" & "reached out" to other leaders, to intro Carl Cameron, who reported that Bush "stepped up his personal international diplomacy" with a series of personal phone calls. Cameron said that Bush agreed with Allawi that Iraqi security forces did well; that Bush "called 2 of his harshest critics," Chirac & Schroeder, who "agreed" that the Iraq election was a "success"; & that White House aides "downplayed any lingering resentment." Cameron noted that Rice will be making her first overseas trip (8 countries in Europe, Israel & the West Bank). He added that Bush also called the leaders of Jordan, Egypt & Saudi Arabia. He ended by bloviating about how there is already an "emerging sense that his [Bush's] goal of spreading freedom & democracy worlwide is gaining momentum."

At 6:07pm, Hume said that Dems "reacted with both hands" (on the one hand ..., but on the other hand ...) to the Iraq elections, to intro Jim Angle's "even-handed" report. Angle said that the "remarkable success" prompted "even Dem leaders" to hail (clips) but that "every ounce of praise was accompanied by a pound of criticism" (more clips). He said there were "calls for immediate withdrawal" from Sen Ted Kennedy, while Sen Harry Reid called for an exit strategy but "no timetable" (more clips). He said the "courageous & determined efforts of Iraqis" was so notable that the Washington Post "seemed to defend the entire effort there" (read some excerpts). Of course he added that "one GOP suggested" that Bush deserves the credit for all this (clip) & characterized it as the "strongest whiff so far of vindication."

At 6:10pm Hume read a teaser for an upcoming segment on the "prebuttal" saying that "Dems are already responding the President's State of the Union address before he's even spoken."

At 6:13pm, Hume noted that "with the Iraq election behind him, Bush turns" to domestic issues to intro Brian Wilson, who reported that "Nancy Pelosi attacked the President's #1 stated goal" [comment: Bush's Social Security Scam] & that "she says Dems are aligned against personal accounts." Wilson said that Bush went to talk to GOPs on retreat & gave a "fiery speech" that was "endorsed by" DeLay. However, Sen Mitch McConnell says GOPs are "unified" that something needs to be done about SocSec, but not about what to do. Wilson noted that there was a 103-page "strategy plan" handed out at the GOP retreat, including phrases to use (e.g., "personalization" not "privatization"), instructions to "keep numbers small" & "suggested language" for a speech. Wilson said that "many Dems" want Bush to offer specific details re SocSec on Wed, but that's not likely to happen.

At 6:15pm, Hume read a teaser about "can Iraqis come together?"

At 6:19pm, saying that "some Americans never lost faith in the idea" of an election in Iraq, Hume interviewed Paul Bremer. Hume asked Bremer for his "reaction" to the election, & Bremer called it a "great day" & an "important step forward in the President's message of freedom." Hume asked if the next step would be unity, & Bremer said that "of course" there are "tensions" but he finds the "commentary here rather superficial" with its emphasis on Sunni v Shiite v Kurd because "Iraqis think of themselves as Iraqis" (he offered one anecdote to support this claim). Hume said there's a "widespread view" that under Saddam the Sunnis "got all the goodies" & now they "feel left out" & asked if that were a "plausible" scenario. Bremer agreed that it was "plausible" but said that "very little has happened" in the way of revenge killings (he contrasted the situation in Iraq with the situation in France & Italy after WWII). Hume asked why the Sunnis didn't vote, & Bremer said we'll "never really know" but he thinks it was "almost entirely" due to intimidation. He did a fair amount of patting himself on the back (saying, for example, that the election was a "step in the path I laid out with the Iraqi leadership 15 months ago" & that "they" said "we'll never do" xyz "but we did" it). Hume suggested that there was a "sense" that there was "no plan to win the peace" & Bremer replied that it would be "more accurate to say" that the "plans in place turned out to be irrelevant" to the situation on the ground. He mentioned that he had thrown a lot of money into "support[ing] democratic institutions." Hume asked him to compare the "difficulty of the next step" to the "difficulty of the election" & wondered whether the "hardest part" is behind us. Bremer said it's "behind" us & paraphrased Churchill ("it's the end of the beginning"). Hume brought up the issue of the new audit of the CPA that found corruption & mismanagement [comment: Fox didn't design a special logo & music for this]. Bremer sighed audibly & attributed it to a "difference of perspective" with "accountants with spreadsheets" in DC expecting perfection in the middle of a war.

At 6:26pm Hume read a teaser for his "Grapevine" segment: "wait'll you hear what PM Allawis office is upset about - hint: it has to do with an Amer network." Carol Iovanna read headlines at 6:29pm (prison riot in Iraq; Bush wants "big incrrease" in pay for soldiers who die in action; new Zarqawi statement; Dean looks like front runner in race for DNC chair).

When Hume did his "Grapevine" segment at 6:30pm, it turned out that Allawi's office had a dust-up with ABC over an interview with Peter Jennings; other items Hume included were: a suicide bomber in Iraq was a child with Down syndrome; a man in Iraq said insurgents tried to turn him into a suicide bomber without his consent, but he survived; UK newspapers were agog over doodles by Blair at the WEF but the doodles turned out to be by Bill Gates; & a RI spelling bee was cancelled because of NLCB rules.

At 6:33pm Major Garrett reported on Howard Dean running for chair of the DNC. This was basically a not-very-insightful compendium of speculation about who has more votes right now, who might vote for whom, etc.

At 6:36pm Hume said that Rumsfeld "may not attend" a conference in Germany because he faces arrest as a war criminal there. Bret Baier reported that Rumsfeld has attended the Munich Security Conf in the past, but the NY-based Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit about torture naming Rumsfeld as a defendant, & German law says that "suspected war criminals" may be prosecuted no matter where the suspect is located. Baier said that "Germany has given no guarantees" this won't happen, despite "multiple investigations" that have determined there was "no policy" in place directing torture/abuse [comment: the old "it was just a few bad apples" excuse].

At 6:40pm, the "All-Stars" -- Kristol, Kondracke & LIasson -- started bloviating. To be honest, I just couldn't bear listening to Kristol twice in one day. Sorry, folks.