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Fox News Gives Hayden Defender Free Rein

Reported by Judy - May 19, 2006

Possibly disappointed that its own poll shows many Americans unconvinced that Gen. Michael Hayden should be the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Fox News on Friday (May 19, 2006) went out of its way to allow one of his defenders to make unrebutted claims about the domestic spying program he oversaw for George Bush.

"Dayside" co-hosts Mike Jerrick and Juliet Huddy "interviewed" Republican Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri and allowed him to prattle on about what a swell guy Hayden is and how the program of spying on Americans that he oversaw was legal and wonderful.

Jerrick attempted only once to press Bond, asking him to respond to the Ben Franklin quote that those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

"We're not sacrificing liberty in the least," Bond insisted. He claimed that the program "has enabled us to identify Al Qaeda operatives in the United States and take appropriate action. It’s one of the most important reasons why we haven’t had another 9/11. … Civil liberties are not much use to the people who are victims of murderous terrorist attacks.”

Jerrick might have followed up by asking for an example of when the program resulted in an arrest or conviction, but he made no effort to do so. In fact, he started off the interview by stating his own view on the issue of whether Hayden, as a member of the military, should be in charge of a civilian agency.

"In my opinion if he resigns, a leopard doesn’t change his spots. He’s still a military guy," Jerrick said. Bond, of course, agreed that "you can put a different suit on it, but it’s still going to be a duck.” By stating an opinion that agreed with Bond, Jerrick ignored the complications of having someone in the chain of military command in charge of a civilian agency. It is not only a matter of whether Hayden will still be a "military guy" at heart. It is a matter of someone trying to serve two bosses -- one civilian, one military -- which have different rules of conduct. Jerrick made no effort to explore what the controversy was.

That may be because the Fox News Opinion Dynamics poll found Americans unpersuaded yet of Hayden's fitness for the civilian post -- with 36 percent saying he is qualified, 20 percent saying he is not, and 43 percent undecided.

Bond said he came away from the hearings believing that Hayden is "very able, very dedicated, very intelligent" and then claimed that "he answered all of the questions well," even though he declined to answer many in public and said he would only discuss them in closed session.

Bond then went into an uninterrupted siloquoy about how many of the Democratic members of the panel tried to get Hayden to discuss "the Democrats' claims, now thoroughly discredited after the Senate Intelligence Committee report came out in 2004, that the intelligence was fixed to show we needed to go into Iraq. It was not. Going into Iraq has been found to be absolutely necessary."

That's a bunch of malarky. But Jerrick let it pass. Instead, he and Huddy ended the interview joking with Bond about being from Kansas and Missouri. Both states have journalism schools with credible reputations. Let's hope Jerrick and Huddy are not the best examples of those states' home-grown journalists.

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