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FOX News Twists Its Own Polling Data To Advocate War Against Iran.

Reported by Ellen - January 28, 2006

In a really frightening Hannity & Colmes last night, FOX News pundits twisted the results of the network's own poll to make it look like the public wants to go to war against Iran. Five war-mongers, including faux liberal Bob Beckel, spoke enthusiastically about military action. No opposing voices were present. While they were at it, at least one person also thought we should probably go after the Palestinians, too. Whatever happened to the notion that the overthrow of Saddam would bring peace and stability to the region? Nobody mentioned it. Nor did anyone say a word about enlisting either themselves or any family member in either of these supposedly necessary wars.

Much of the discussion was based on a FOX News poll out the same day. 13 of the poll’s 41 questions were about Iran. No other topic in the poll had so many questions. One of the questions asked was “If diplomacy fails (my emphasis), which of the following U.S. military options would you support to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons?” Out of several choices, 59% said, “using whatever military force is necessary.” On Hannity & Colmes, everybody overlooked the poll’s pre-condition of diplomacy failing, and talked about the public’s enthusiasm for war with Iran.

The first guest was Newt Gingrich who was also enthusiastic about the idea of threatening the Palestinians. His advice to President Bush is to tell Hamas, “You have a very short time frame, probably less than 30 days, certainly not more than 60, to repudiate your commitment to eliminate Israel or you would have to be considered totally unacceptable as a government in the region.” Gingrich thought we should threaten to “crush their government economically, …deprive them of any method of survival and …guarantee that they cannot make it as a state unless they renounce their goal of destroying people.” Gingrich had a few orders for the Europeans, too. “The Europeans should be joining us.”

As for Iran, “Under no circumstance should the United States tolerate the continued existence of the current regime in Iran.”

Subbing for Alan Colmes, “Democrat” Bob Beckel spent Friday night, as he had all three nights of co-hosting, showing off his affinity for conservatives and downplaying any Democratic leanings. Thursday night, Beckel had advocated military strikes against Iran. Last night, he seemed more hawkish than Sean Hannity.

Beckel asked Gingrich, “Do you agree that we have a moral obligation and should not take the chance that (Iran) may have something sooner than later?”

Gingrich answered, “I believe we are on a very short fuse – months rather than years… I think that we should be actively preparing for whatever military actions are necessary.”

“Does history tell us to move and move now?”

Gingrich compared the situation to 1934-36 “when if the western democracies had had courage, they would have eliminated Hitler and saved literally a hundred million lives in the second World War.”

Hannity did not seem so convinced, though he tried to blame Democrats. “I agree we’ve got to show muscle and courage and conviction and principle and take the lead and then I’m looking at a battle within this country – people arguing we ought not even be intercepting calls from Al Qaeda. (Comment: This is a lie, of course. Nobody says we shouldn’t be intercepting calls from Al Qaeda. The objection is doing it without a warrant.) And I’m thinking, where is the political will gonna be to actually take that, you know, from the, you know, from the stage of being a theory to action?”

Gingrich misreported the poll date by saying that the public is “already overwhelmingly in favor of military strikes.”

A bit later, Ann Coulter and “Democratic strategist” Pat Caddell came on to advocate some more about a war. Like Beckel, Caddell is another FOX News “Democrat” who just happens to side with the Republicans at nearly every opportunity.

Beckel threw in a token pro-Democratic remark by noting that the latest polls look bad for Bush. In retrospect, it seemed like a set up for another argument why Democrats should support attacking Iran.

Caddell agreed that Bush’s poll numbers looked bad “except for one thing… when you get to security, Democrats can’t touch him.” Caddell smoothly moved to Iran from there with the misleading claim that the polls showed public consensus “on taking Iran on” and “taking military action.”

Beckel turned to Coulter. Coulter’s hair looked a new shade of blonde (slightly darker) and her pupils looked unnaturally large but at least she managed to speak coherently, unlike during her last appearance on Hannity & Colmes. She wore a plunging neckline and her ostentatiously large cross.

Beckel asked Coulter what made the Iran issue so “dramatic and quickly developing in the United States?” NOTE: Beckel ignored the fact that the poll itself made Iran a focus but even more importantly, in his zeal to buddy up to the conservatives, he overlooked Question 14 of the poll: What topic are you most interested in hearing the president talk about during his (State of the Union) speech? The top three answers were Iraq, Economy/Jobs, Terrorism/Security. Iran was 12th on the list.

Since when did Coulter become an expert in foreign policy? Since it gave her the opportunity to bash anti-war liberals. “Now flash back a few years when the situation was the same thing with Iraq. What do you do? Do you wait until we have 100% assurance that Iran has nukes before we go in, to satisfy the New York Times and all the liberals carrying on about no weapons of mass destruction now? No, you don’t wait until you’re absolutely, 100% sure.”

Caddell noted that “what’s interesting are the number of people who are opposed or unhappy with Iraq who believe that Iran is a much more serious threat.”

Hannity remained seemingly unconvinced, though he still couched his doubts in attacks on Democrats. “Here’s the point though, Pat. You know, the American people DID in the beginning support the war in Iraq. So are we gonna have support here and then have Ted Kennedy five weeks later undermining the president again?”

Caddell, again misinterpreting the FOX News poll, said that the important thing to him is that given the level of ambivalence against the war in Iraq, that so many people want “to immediately move” to military action.

At the end of the segment, Beckel and Coulter joked about going to war. “Ann, I want to make one point, this is one liberal who last night on this show called for taking out the Iranian nuclear capacity by air power and sea power today.”

“I’m glad to hear that but if it turns out they don’t have nukes, are you going to start screaming Bush lied, kids died?”

“No, I’m just gonna duck.”

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