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FOX News Fantasyland About Iraq

Reported by Ellen - December 1, 2005

Sean Hannity was so enthusiastic about President Bush's speech yesterday, I was surprised there wasn't a Mission Accomplished banner behind his half of the desk on Hannity & Colmes. Hannity started off the first of three segments about the wonderful world of Iraq by saying Bush's speech "demonstrates why he is a great wartime leader." It's interesting that Hannity would think a speech, rather than any concrete military actions or results, would demonstrate such a thing but Hannity was in the land of bliss and didn't even muster up much energy to attack John Kerry when he had the chance. That, right there, proves something's out of whack with him. But it wasn't just Hannity.

Former Congressman and Republican JC Watts and Senator Joe Lieberman were also on hand to extol the successes in Iraq. Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary in the Clinton Administration, and Alan Colmes had a diffrerent view, of course. Reich questioned whether Bush's speech would have much effect. Reich said that there's "a major problem" with Bush's credibility on Iraq and that political pressures "guarantee" troop withdrawals will begin in a few months, in time for the 2006 elections.

Watts' only response was to take an outlandish swipe at Kerry saying, "If John Kerry were in charge, communism, the USSR never would have collapsed." Somehow, Hannity passed up that opening while the ordinarily restrained Colmes burst out, "Oh, please!"

When it was his turn, Colmes asked Watts what, if anything Bush said that was new. "I didn't hear anything (in Bush's speech) that helps us understand what victory means and how we define that."

Rather than come up with a real answer, Watts first made the dubious argument that the reason Colmes didn't hear it is because he was listening "to respond" rather than to hear what Bush was saying. Then Watts tried to link Saddam with WMD's. "You refuse to accept the fact that Saddam Hussein, the biggest weapon of mass destruction that is no longer in power, that he is being tried under the judicial system that's in place in Iraq. That is a big thing. We don't have training of terrorists in Afghanistan. There's a lot of different things that we can point to."

Colmes asked about the recently revealed "information offensive" in which the US military paid Iraqi newspapers for the privilege of planting stories designed to burnish the US image. "Is that the kind of freedom we're fighting for?" Watts dismissed it as "politics."

But there was even more good news about Iraq to come. Near the end of the program, Hannity did an exclusive (meaning Colmes didn't participate) interview with Joe Lieberman. The two of them gushed over the fact that cell phones and satellite dishes have proliferated which Lieberman touted as "a discernible difference" that proves we've made progress. According to Lieberman, two thirds of Iraq is "basically secure," and, particularly in the north, the economy is booming. He said the problems are in the Sunni triangle and even there "we're doing better."

Fair and balanced FOX saw no need to provide any opposing view despite the fact that Lieberman and Hannity may be the only two people outside the Bush Administration who hold it. For example, Time magazine Baghdad bureau chief Michael Ware said, "I and some other journalists had lunch with Senator Joe Lieberman the other day and we listened to him talking about Iraq. Either Senator Lieberman is so divorced from reality that he's completely lost the plot or he knows he's spinning a line. Because one of my colleagues turned to me in the middle of this lunch and said he's not talking about any country I've ever been to and yet he was talking about Iraq, the very country where we were sitting." And in a lengthy interview on MSNBC (via Crooks and Liars), Don Imus made mincemeat of Lieberman's assertions.

But viewers of "real journalism" FOX learned nothing about that. All we got was Hannity's notion that Lieberman's position "showed a lot of leadership." Hannity insisted "There IS a victory... The winds of freedom are blowing throughout the entire region."

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