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FOX - Changing the Definition of Fair and Balanced

Reported by Nancy - June 24, 2005 -

Yesterday (6/23) on Dayside, Linda Vester discussed comments made by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) in a hearing, questioning Rumsfeld on his handling of the war in Iraq. During the clip that was shown, Kennedy called the Iraq war a "quagmire" and suggested that Rumsfeld should submit his resignation.

After the clip was shown, Vester introduced Representatives Jim Marshall (D-GA) and Bill Shuster (R-GA). Before interviewing the two, Vester opened the discussion to the audience in order to get their point of view on the comments Kennedy made. One audience member stated: "I thought it was inappropriate. I feel like for him to make, to ask such a question publicly, that really just stated his opinion."

Vester then asked. "Congressman Marshall, what do you think about that?"

JM:  "Well, I think it's not helpful for any leader in the United States to talk about Iraq being a quagmire. I think that's the kind of statement that can become unforgivably self-fulfilling. I think General Abizaid has it absolutely right, he describes the situation over there with accuracy, I think all Americans need to recognize this is a tough go as has been said many, many times, and frankly if Secretary Rumsfeld were submitting his resignation to me, I would not accept it, I am happy to have a Secretary of Defense who is feisty and can stay the course."

Audience applauds.

LV: "You say that as a Democrat, interesting. Congressman Shuster, it was also brought up, for instance by Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, he's concerned that in his state opinion on Iraq is turning a little bit, and people are getting concerned about when they can start brining American men and women home."

BS: "Well, I think all Americans are concerned, and we should be concerned. But to say what Senator Kennedy said is outrageous, he's out of touch and I think it's reprehensible some of the things that not only he but some of his colleagues in the Senate have said. It's good to hear Jim Marshall, who understands about our military and understands about the nature of war. What he's saying in support of his President and Secretary of State (audience applauds) I think we've got to stay the course, we can not put a timetable in place because all it will do is give the insurgents, the terrorists time to go on vacation and wait until we leave to come back and cause harm and death."

Comments: Vester introduced the segment by calling the conversation a "fair and balanced debate". Nothing in the conversation was fair nor balanced by any means. She interviewed both a Democrat and a Republican, but both sides agreed with one another and both quoted Bush by saying that we need to "stay the course". Both Congressmen toed the Republican Party line, and there was no actual debate or dissent from either. Vester even made it a point to clarify for the audience that it is a Democrat making these statements.

When Vester mentioned that Graham is beginning to take his constituents' point of view to heart and is concerned that "opinion on Iraq is turning a little bit" she mades it sound as though there are a few in the country that do not approve of the war, but fails to mention, once again, that over 60% of Americans do not feel the Iraq war is worth fighting.

Shuster's rant on Kennedy's comments asserted that Kennedy is out of touch by calling the war a quagmire. The definition of a quagmire is "A difficult or precarious situation; a predicament". This definition falls in line with a recent poll concerning Iraq, where 66% of people feel that the US is "bogged down" ('bog' is a synonym for 'quagmire'). Kennedy is far from out of touch, with 66% of Americans supporting his view that Iraq has become a quagmire. The conversation ended shortly thereafter.

This was a classic Fox "fair and balanced debate", simply the position of the Bush Administration uttered by both a Republican and a "Democrat".

Reported by Janie