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FOX News Still Trying To Turn Haditha Into Partisan Politics

Reported by Ellen - June 2, 2006

Maybe it’s just me but it seems like the FOX News hate machine just isn’t doing the job with Haditha. There was a mish-mosh of tactics to avoid admitting wrongdoing on Hannity & Colmes last night (6/1/06). There were the usual Murtha smears plus some Hanctimonious histrionics about John Kerry and not rushing to judgment (so long as no one involved is a rich, white Duke lacrosse player) along with some selective reporting of facts. But here and there, Sean Hannity and FOX News military analyst Major General Bob Scales let it slip that it’s a serious incident that can’t be swept under the rug by attacking Democrats.

The “good news” (from a media watchdog perspective) is that FOX News gave the story the prominence it deserved – top story for a double segment. And instead of making it ALL about Murtha and Democrats, there was some real discussion about the substance of the events. But first, Hannity had to do his best to make sure the audience hated Democrats enough that they might forget to blame the Commander-in-Chief.

Hannity started the discussion by trying to make Haditha look like a political vendetta. Hannity said that Captain James Kimber, who was relieved of his command after members of his battalion were accused in the Haditha killings, believed he was “a political casualty.” Hannity continued, “It seems that way to me, with this rush to judgment.”

FOX News analyst Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney agreed that Kimber was “probably right” but, he added, Kimber was a company commander and commanders are held responsible.

Uh-oh, wrong answer. So Hannity tried again. “This is now a pattern that has emerged. We know Jack Murtha’s comments about this, saying civilians were killed in cold blood. We know John Kerry’s comments. We know a lot of left-wingers have jumped on this event. They want to politicize this very early on here.”

But then, having dispensed his dose of hate, Hannity acknowledged that the incident was more than just politics. He asked viewers to put themselves into the positions of the marines and what they go through on any given day. He recounted how that day in Haditha, an IED had gone off, killing one marine who was “split in half in front of his fellow marines.” Hannity continued that the marines “don’t know who the enemy is here.” He complained that there is a lack of understanding of what the marines go through every day.

Scales agreed with Hannity that the conditions were difficult but that there are laws of war and rules of engagement that soldiers must follow.

Alan Colmes pointed out that the “untenable situation for our troops” is just what Murtha was trying to say. “There’s not clear-cut guidance about who the enemy is, in some cases you know, what a win really means. Isn’t that the bigger point that Congressman Murtha was really making?” (Comment: Yes, it was. You can read Murtha’s statement here.)

Suddenly, it was back to sliming Murtha again. McInerney said, “He’s got a cut and run philosophy… Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean we cut and run… You don’t defeat ideologies by defending ports and airports. You defeat ideologies by being in a region and help democracies and moderate governments develop. We have a forward strategy, Alan.”

Comment: You also don’t defeat radical ideologues by killing civilians whose security and standard of living have decreased while you’ve been occupying their country.

But Colmes didn’t want to get into that. He said, “The question is, what actually happened here? And how do we prevent this from happening in the future? And do we belong in that kind of a situation?”

Scales said that counterinsurgencies are tough. “In a counterinsurgency the object (is) to shape perceptions and win the hearts and minds of the people. This is a very slow, difficult type of war.”

Again, it seemed an obvious question: how can we win the hearts and minds of people if we’re killing civilians? Iraq's prime minister seems really, really angry about it. Nancy A. Youssef, of Knight Ridder, suggests that he may use American violence against civilians as a cause to bring Shiites and Sunnis together.

But again, Colmes didn’t want to go there. He asked if it isn’t important to show that our country “believes in the rule of law?”

“Absolutely,” McInerney agreed.

Hannity started in on the lies and distortions. “There’s no evidence been presented, there’s no conviction in this case, there’s been no cross-examination, there’s no context put in this case.”

Comment: But there HAS been a military investigation and that investigation seems to have concluded that a massacre took place. According to yeterday’s Boston Globe, the US delivered $38,000 in military-ordered reparations to families of 15 of the dead civilians in Haditha. Funny, how Hannity didn't mention that.

Instead, Hannity went back to smearing. “Going to back to the comments of Jack Murtha that civilians were killed in cold blood, going back to the comments of John Kerry that our troops are terrorizing women and children in the dark of night. We have groups like, you know, Human Rights Watch and others saying ‘the Haditha massacre will go down as Iraq’s My Lai. What happened at Haditha appears to be outright murder.’ How hurtful is this to the troops that are putting themselves in harm’s way?”

“Extremely hurtful, Sean,” Scales said, and he talked about getting emails from soldiers who feel unappreciated for all the good work they do.

As the music started, Colmes said, “And we appreciate the kind of country where the truth comes out and where justice is done. Isn’t that what this is really all about?”

“Of course it is,” Scales said.

Then it was time to move on to the latest in the Duke rape case and a new white woman murder.

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