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Grapevine Whine - Another Case of Cluelessness?

Reported by Nancy - December 8, 2005 -

Brit Hume typically uses the "pickings" on his Grapevine segment on Special Report to attack & smear anyone critical of the Bush administration. Howard Dean (Chair of the Democratic National Committee) is guaranteed a spot on Hume's hit list every time he opens his mouth, & Tuesday night (12/6) was no exception. The reactionary noise machine went into overdrive about remarks Dean made in a radio interview on Monday, & good foot soldier Hume dutifully chimed in.

At 627pm (ET) Hume read a teaser: "We'll tell ya what Howard Dean says Abu ak-Zarqawi did & what he really did." Following an ad break & headline news, Hume led off the Grapevine segment with this "picking:"

HUME: In declaring the US could not win in Iraq, DNC chairman Howard Dean also blamed the US invasion for bringing Al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to the country, saying, "We need a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq but in a friendly neighboring country to fight Zarqawi, who came to Iraq after this invasion."

Comments: News Hound Judy previously noted that Neil Cavuto doesn't understand the cause-&-effect relationship; now we have evidence that Hume suffers the same failing. Is this cluelessness an epidemic at FNC?

Here's a tip for Hume: Saying that A happened before B does NOT imply that A caused B.

But wait! There's more! Humr continued:

HUME: In fact, Zarqawi has long been understood to have arrived in Iraq nearly a year before the US invasion, where he received treatment for a leg injury sustained in Afghanistan. He is thought to have associated with the Ansar al-Islam terror group in northern Iraq, and later merged his own operations with Al Qaeda.

Comments: Notice the careful phrasing, worthy of the finest hair-splitter: "In fact, Zarqawi has long been understood to ..." Using the phrase "In fact" does imply something: that what you're about to say is factual. But Hume knew darned well that what he was about to say was not factual but rather conjecture, so he immediately followed that with the much more namby-pamby phrase, "...has long been understood to ..." The very next sentence begins with an equally equivocating phrase -- "He is thought to have ..." Yet Hume saw fit to use both a teaser ("We'll tell ya what ... Abu ak-Zarqawi ... really did.") & the phrase "in fact" to preface these statements -- statements which consist of claims & suppositions, not facts.

In FACT, there are very fews FACTS known about Zarqawi, as the BBC profile] about him makes clear -- note the phrases I've emphasized :

He is believed to have fled to Iraq in 2001 after a US missile strike on his Afghan base, though the report that he lost a leg in the attack has not been verified . US officials argue that it was at al-Qaeda's behest that he moved to Iraq and established links with Ansar al-Islam - a group of Kurdish Islamists from the north of the country. He is thought to have remained with them for a while - feeling at home in mountainous northern Iraq.

Hume then repeats one of the Bush administration's pre-war talking points: "... where he received treatment for a leg injury sustained in Afghanistan." Anyone who has been paying attention for the past 4 years will remember this, but the Wikipedia entry for Zarqai sums it up nicely:

In Colin Powell's famed February 2003 speech to the United Nations urging war against Iraq, Zarqawi was cited as an example of Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism. ... A CIA report in late 2004 concluded that it had no evidence Saddam's government was involved or aware of this medical treatment, and it had found "no conclusive evidence the Saddam Hussein regime had harbored Zarqawi."[8][9] One U.S. official summarized the report: "The evidence is that Saddam never gave Zarqawi anything."[10] ... Powell and the Bush administration continued to stand by statements that Zarqawi linked Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda. According to MSNBC, the Pentagon had pushed to "take out" Zarqawi's operation at least three times prior to the invasion of Iraq, but had been vetoed by the White House because Zarqawi's removal would undercut the case that war on Iraq was part of the War on Terrorism. ...

Claims of harm to Zarqawi have changed over time. Early in 2002, there were unverified reports from Afghan Northern Alliance members that Zarqawi had been killed by a missile attack in Afghanistan. Many news sources repeated the claim. Later, Kurdish groups claimed that Zarqawi had not died in the missile strike, but had been severely injured, and went to Baghdad in 2002 to have his leg amputated. On October 7, 2002, the day before Congress voted to give President Bush permission to go to war against Iraq, Bush gave a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio that repeated this claim as fact. This was [one] of President Bush's primary examples of ways Saddam Hussein had aided, funded, and harbored al-Qaida. Powell repeated this claim in his famous February 2003 speech to the UN, urging a resolution for war, and it soon became "common knowledge" that Zarqawi had a prosthetic leg. In 2004, Newsweek reported that some "senior U.S. military officials in Baghdad" had come to believe that he still had his original legs.[19]. Knight Ridder later reported that the leg amputation was something "officials now acknowledge was incorrect," though it's possible this was merely a restatement of the Newsweek report.[20]

Wouldn't it be nice to have just one of these "pickings" be something other than official Bush administration propaganda?

If you'd like to complain to Fox about this, email: special@foxnews.com

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (Hume's confusion about case & effect, his implying that Bush administrattion talking points were "fact"). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.