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Krauthammer Goes Beyond the Bounds (Again)

Reported by Nancy - March 8, 2005 -

Last night (3/7) on Special Report, Brit Hume went to great lengths to continue the spin on the shooting incident that killed Italian intel agent Nicola Calipari & wounded Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, with a lot of help from one of the most rabid ideologues on his "All-Star" panel, Charles Krauthammer, who said: "She's lucky she wasn't shot as a collaborator."

At 6:18pm (all times ET) Bret Baier reported on the Sgrena shooting incident. It should be noted that Baier was reporting, as usual, from the Pentagon, not from Rome. And, as with other reports on this incident aired elsewhere on Fox, Baier's report minimized & downplayed the events. He said that "hundreds of Italians" lined the streets for Calipari's funeral. Baier also said that the Italians "did not inform the US about the move", thus creating the problem. He showed clips of a State Dept statement, read from the official Pentagon response, & showed a clip of Scott McClellan talking about this. He also mentioned that there is a separate investigation into the shooting death of a Bulgarian soldier in Iraq by US forces.

Comment: "Hundreds" of people? The Italian press reported that "thousands" crowded into Santa Maria degli Angeli church in Rome for Calipari's full state funeral, with 20,000 more in the square outside the church; & an estimated 100,000 people filed by his coffin as it lay in state. Baier also didn't mention that the priest who officiated at Calipari's funeral was his brother, Maurizio -- an unusual lapse for Fox, which normally loves the tug-at-your-heartstrings angle.

At 6:21pm Hume interviewed Robt Scales (US Army Gen, ret) about the incident. Scales is a frequent Fox guest, & was relatively subdued (for him). He offered a lot of factual information about the US military's rules of engagement (the Army usually leaves a battalion, or 1000 troops, to guard this particular stretch of road, with each checkpoint manend by one platoon, often with one Iraqi Natl Guard unit; the checkpoints are frequently moved so they don't become targets; the procedure is voice warning, then flashing lights, then shooting in the air, then shooting at tires or engine block, & only then, if all else fails, "deadly force"). When Hume asked if US intel did or didn't know Sgrena was being taken to the airport, Scales had to admit it's not entirely clear." When Hume wondered why the driver wouldn't stop, Scales speculated that he "decides to accelerate through" the checkpoint, repeating that the US "soldiers followed the rules of engagement." He added that there is "some question" of whether they were killed by shots fired at the engine. Hume mentioned the possibility that the shooting was intentional, & Scales dismissed that as "ridiculous", trotting out the usual excuses (these are "young soldiers" in a "dangerous spot" who have only "10-15 seconds to make a decision"). Hume went back to blaming the driver -- "One wonders what impelled the driver to keep on going" & Scales agreed, saying that "at night, you see floodlights" & army vehicles so you can't mistake that it's a checkpoint.

Following a clip of Sgrena talking about the US policy of not ransoming hostages, at 6:41pm the All-Stars (Barnes, Krauthammer & Mara Liasson) took up where Scales left off. Hume opened the segment by noting that Sgrena "later backed off a little bit" on her charges that she might have been targeted by US forces. Barnes jumped right in, sneering "She's a communist" & she "hates America" & "opposes the war" in Iraq. He said US troops "didn't know who was in that car" & added that he's "been on that road, it's scary, the one thing your driver does is floor it." Liasson tried to point out that "We don't know exactly what happened" but said she couldn't "imagine they targeted her on purpose -- what's the point?" Liasson did note that the US does not "follow" Euro policy of ransoming hostages. Krauthammer was chomping at the bit & barely let Liasson finish her sentence before starting to slam Sgrena -- "She writes for a communist newspaper, she's against the war" & "She's lucky she wasn't shot as a collaborator." He dismissed her allegations about being targeted as the "paranoia of a communist" & called the charges "disgraceful." Barnes said this is an "attempt by these communists to pull out" of the coalition, adding that "they want to embarass" Berlusconi. Krauthammer agreed, saying it shows the "desperation of the left" & it's a "reaction to the success" of the Iraqi elections, which even the "left-wing press in Britain" has had to admit. He wrapped it up by calling the charges of deliberate targeting an attempt to "explot anti-Americanism" & a "ridiculous falsehood."

General comment: I strongly recommend that you read some of the European press to get more info on this story. The Guardian, for example, has covered this extensively. Corriere della Sella has an English-language website. Among other interesting things, you will learn that Sgrena has said there were no bright light & no signal to stop; that her driver said they were driving slowly, about 40-50 km/h (25-30mph); that Sgrena's editor, Gabriele Polo, said he was told by Italian officials that 300-400 rounds were fired at the car.

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (Special Report's coverage of the shooting incident that killed Calipari & wounded Sgrena). O/T comments will be deleted. Please use the O/T category from the list at right to post unrelated comments. Thanks.