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George & Laura's Excellent European Adventure

Reported by Nancy - February 22, 2005 -

Today (2/22), FNL's treatment of Bush's visit to Europe was so overwhelmingly slanted & so nauseatingly sycophantic, it could put you into a diabetic coma. David Asman & Patty Ann Browne bashed Dems, Europe & Europeans; Greg Palkot degenerated into a pale imitation of Jonathan Hunt; & FNL fell in love with the "royal fanfare" welcoming music being played at NATO.

At 11:03am Wendell Goler reported from Brussels re Bush meeting with NATO, noting that NATO has agreed to contribute to efforts in Iraq & adding that "some contributions will be quite minor" (clip of Bush saying every contribution matters). Goler said that NATO is having an identity crisis because Schroeder is warning that NATO needs to be revamped & Chirac is urging the US to offer Iran incentives, less threats, relaxed restrictions (clip of Bush saying Congress will react to tech transfer to China). Goler outlined the rest of Bush's itinerary: next to Germany, then to Slovakia & meeting with Putin.

At 11:22am Asman said that Bush praised NATO (clip of Bush), then interviewed Lester Korn (former US Ambassador to NATO). Asman's questions, asked in a "just-folks" tone with a lot of smirking & snide laughter, included -- as usual -- much personal opinion masquerading as a question. For example, Asman opened by saying that "Europeans are a cynical lot" & asked whether "they really believe the world is better off with a democratic Iraq" & Middle East. Later, he said "I'm gonna try to out-cynic the cynics in Europe" as a prelude to asking whether Europe prefers to deal with one dictator rather than a democracy. His "final cynical question" was whether Europeans are "more concerned" with Iran's oil than with Iran's nuclear program. Korn said they're "driven by commercial interests."

At 11:33am Greg Palkot in Belgium reported on how "ordinary" people view Bush. Palkot's tone & style were a big step down for him, more reminiscent of Geraldo or Jonathan Hunt than of any real journalist. He said there was "pretty harmonious mood music" coming out of Brussels, that there is "some skepticism" but a "genuine respect for America's core values", adding that "people remember the American-led Allies who liberated these towns in 1945." He showed a couple of clips of man-in-the-street style interviews.

At 11:35am, Patty Ann Browne said that Europeans are skeptical about Bush's "charm offensive" [comment: remember how Condi's tour was billed? that phrase must have played well with Fox fans] & showed an extended clip of Bush at a NATO press conf [comment: cutting the clip off as soon as someone else was about to speak]. Browne then interviewed Bill Kristol [comment: reactionary ideologue & frequent Fox talking head]. Browne asked "how deep" is the disdain in Europe & Kristol said "awfully" but he then said that Bush's visit is "not a charm offensive" but rather a "denocracy offensive", going on to bash Europeans in general (e.g., are they "really gonna smirk at" the Orange Revolution) & claiming that Bush's policy has been "vindicated." Browne brought up Bush's planned meeting with Putin, & Kristol moved on to bashing Russia in general (e.g., the "only major country in the world where there's been" democratic reversal) & Putin in particular (e.g., Bush "can't trust Putin" & the US "tried to coddle" Putin & "haven't gotten much out of it"), recommending "less carrot, more stick" in our approach. Browne brought up the Middle East peace process, & Kristol switched back to bashing Europe (e.g., "they're pretending" that Bush is "coming around to their view" but actually his policies, such as "not dealing with Arafat" have been "absolutely vindicated"). Browne brought up the planned Bush-Chirac joint statement about Syria leaving Lebanon, & Kristol was skeptical himself, noting there will be a "need to follow through" & claiming that this issue was "not on the table a year ago" [comment: maybe not on Kristol's table, but it's been on France's & Lebanon's table for 20+ years, & the US has failed to support recent UN initiatives on this issue].

At 11:53am Browne reported that Laura Bush is in Germany thanking US troops (clip of LBush). Browne then interviewed Holly Bailey (White House correspondent for Newsweek). Browne got in a bash at Hillary Clinton (asking whether everyone remembered how she got into trouble for greeting Suha Arafat with a kiss) but Bailey preferred to concentrate on praising Laura Bush ("kindler, gentler face" of the admin, more comfortable in her role).

At 12:00noon, Goler essentially repeated his earlier report about Bush meeting with NATO. This time, he included even more audio/video clips of Bush.

At 12:03pm Asman interviewed Terry Holt & Rich Masters about Bush's trip to Europe. Asman introduced Holt merely as a GOP, without noting that he was national spokesperson for Bush/Cheney '04, then "senior adviser" to Ed Gillespie at the RNC. Asman also introduced Masters merely as a Dem; his party affiliation is not public, but he is managing director of media relations at Qorvis Communications, a mid-sized PR firm in DC, who seems to be dragged out by Fox when they an ineffectual, weak, alleged "Dem" for "balance" (see, for example, NewsHound melanie's post from last July). As soon as Masters started to make some good points (he was noting that Europeans had seen Bush's foreign policy approach as "arrogant" & "go-it-alone"), Asman interrupted him to give Holt the floor. Holt rhapsodized about how this reminded him of Reagan, tossing out phrases like "clear vision" & "alliance of freedom". Master immediately caved & started agreeing with Asman & Holt. Eventually, Asman laughed & asked Holt if he found it "surprising" that Dems "are giving Bush his due". Holt opined that it was merely because "they just can't think of" a way to be critical. Asman wrapped it all up with an assessment that it's "nice to see America on top again" given the "sorta smug arrogance" in French & Belgian references to the US 2 years ago

At 12:17pm there was an ALERT for video from a photo op in Brussels.

At 12:22pm Asman interviewed Lawrence Eagleburger (former US Secy of State), saying he's "always refreshing & frank with his views" [comment: I'll leave it to you to decide how "refreshing" it is to hear the same old, same old, regurgitated again]. Asman speculated about whether Syria might crack down on "street demonstrations" in Lebanon & Eagleburger said "We're not gonna let em get away with" a crackdown. Asman asked what it might mean if Syria pulled out of Lebanon, & Eagleburger off-handedly dismissed it all, saying "not much difference" but it might give Syria a "black eye" & there "may be fighting between [sic]" factions in Lebanon. Never one to stray from the message of the day, Asman suggested that they "bring it back to the President's trip", claimed that Bush is putting Lebanon in the "context of fomenting democracy around the world", & asked "Is he overreaching?" Eagleburger said he's trying to "give a vision" [comment: see Holt's remarks of a few minutes earlier]. Asman took the cue, saying "you used that great word 'vision' " & Eagleburger referred back to the previous interview, saying that there had been an "implication" that Bush was "too rough" but his first 4 years were "fairly successful". Asman laughed & said "that was a Democrat" who said that. Eagleburger sneered that the Europeans were "too soft." Asman brought up the subject of Russia & "hanky panky in Ukraine" & Eagleburger said that Putin is "back to old habits" so the US will have to "get fairly rough with them."

At 12:32pm, Asman said that Bush was "praising NATO's commitment to Iraq" to intro a report from Kelly Wright at the Pentagon about Bush. There was a lot of video of US troops fighting & blowing stuff up, plus a clip of Bush at NATO.

At 12:35pm, Asman repeated the remark about Bush praising NATO, then interviewed Simon Marks (Feature Story News). Asman asked whether NATO saw Iraq as a US problem or as " 'our' problem". Marks said Europe is "prepared to get on board" & to "let bygones be bygones." Asman asked if Europeans really think Bush is a "dolt" & Marks said that Bush's problem is not "of policy but of personality" & that Europe is seeing a "very different Bush on display now", that "they sense he feels a lot more comfortable because of his election victory last November." Asman (in a gee-whiz tone) said "they didn't think he was gonna win" & Marks said the Euro press "did a 180 turnabout" re both the US election & the election in Iraq. Asman condescendingly said "nobody wants to admit they were wrong" but wondered "are we beginning to hear some of that" from European media. Marks said that "both sides" are doing it, noting that CRice recently said she wanted to have a "conversation" not a "monologue." Asman opined that this changed attitude might be due to changes in Europe, with countries from the former Soviet Union now being free & having "more in common" with the US than with France. Marks said that Europeans are "still definitely gunning for Rumsfeld" but the "400-pound gorilla" is the new President of Ukraine.

Additional teasers about Bush were aired at 11:19, 11:56, 11:59, 12:18, 12:27 & 12:57.

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