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Marching in Lockstep -- Or Should That Be Goosestep?

Reported by Nancy - July 11, 2005 -

On FNL today (7/11), David Asman didn't miss an opportunity to shill for expansion of the USA PATRIOT ACT, aided & abetted by the usual suspects. Fred Barnes (reactionary ideologue & regular FNC talking head), for example, actually asserted that the Act doesn't go far enough, that it should be expanded, that abuses of the Act are "practically non-existent" & that "alleged abuses [at Gitmo] really haven't happened."

Here's a summary of the Asman-Barnes interview. Note that for the purposes of this summary, I refer to the USA PATRIOT ACT the way staff & guests on FNL do -- simply as the Patriot Act.

At 12:12pm (EDT) Asman showed a clip of Bush's speech today at the FBI Training Academy, then interviewed Barnes. Asman asked how does the London bombing "change the debate" on the War On Terror & the Patriot Act. Barnes immediately said that abuses of it are "practically non-existent" & sneered about critics of it (e.g., the NYTimes). Asman, playing the good cop role, pointed out that the NYTimes isn't against the Patriot Act, per se, it's "against expansion" of it. Barnes harrumphed that there's "every reason to expand it" claiming that will "increase the investigative tools of the FBI." He said there is "every reason IN WAR TIME" to give the govt thos tools & claimed that the Bush admin "has done a good job" because "there hasn't been another 9/11." Asman asked if the lack of attacks on US soil could be attributed "beyond luck" to info obtained from Gitmo detainees. Barnes said the admin "hasn' t offered a lot of specificity" citing vague, generic statements about plans & attacks "thwarted ... upset". Asman asked how the London bombing affects those who want to close Gitmo. Barnes laughed & said it "completely undermines them" & repeated that the admin "has not been forthright enough" about the value of Gitmo for the intel community. He also said that "alleged abuses really haven't happened" at Gitmo. Asman said that "some" Dems are "changing their minds" about the Patriot Act & seem to have "lost their footing entirely." Barnes said he understood why liberals would be against the Patriot Act but didn't "understand why conservatives would be against it" which Asman hurried to explain as "not so much conservatives as libertarians." Barnes reiterated that with the War On Terror, it "seems inappropriate to be opposing expanision of the Patriot Act." Asman noted that Bush had said we're "gonna go TO the terrorists" & asked "where next?" Barnes had a long list in response, including our borders & Asia, noting that Al Qaeda had "decentralized with affiliates everywhere." Asman asked "are we gonna go to some of our allies like Pakistan & Saudi Arabia" & Barnes said "absolutely," claiming that this is "going on right now." Barnes then commented on what he called an "alarming development in Spain" which he described as "one million illegals given citizenship" & which he said "chances are some jihadists among those, so it's a "challenge for us to weed out" these unsavory characters. Asman joked that he'd be talking later with Judge Andrew Napotano, who (according to Asman) has a different view of the Patriot Act than Barnes, & Barnes was also amused by this, saying that "when the War On Terror is over, MAYBE" we could consider changing the Patriot Act.

Comment: The "good cop/bad cop" scenario here is a ploy often used on FNL. It allows the interviewer to pretend to be non-partisan, & also opens the door for the guest to hit all the required talking points. The promised interview with Napolitano never happened during the time remaining on this program. FNL doesn't even bother to follow its own standards for "balance." Why not include the libertarian viewpoint on the Patriot Act? The conservative? Asman might as well have interviewed an official Bush admin spokesman, since all Barnes did was hit the same talking points.

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (FNL's fear-mongering & lack of balance, Asman shiling for the Patriot Act). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.