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FOX News Plays Handmaiden To Karl Rove With “Special Investigation” Into John Murtha

Reported by Ellen - June 22, 2006

Tonight on Hannity & Colmes, there was “a special investigation” into how John Murtha’s constituents feel about him followed by a panel discussion on whether he has changed his position on the war in Iraq. Hannity & Colmes rarely even mentions how President Bush’s constituents feel about him, nor do I recall any discussion devoted to his changing positions on the reasons we went to war. But in tandem with Karl Rove’s recent dictum to Republicans that they target Murtha and other Democrats pushing for withdrawal of troops, FOX News has set up a nightly Murtha-smear segment. Tonight, there were two. Is Murtha more important to discuss than the president? Only on FOX News.

In a phony attempt at fairness and balance, the report started with a number of constitutents, all speaking favorably about Murtha. “I agree with what he has said to bring these troops home,” a woman named Pam Guskey said. A man, seemingly a member of the American Legion said, “I do agree with many of the things he did say, what he’s attempting to do. I think a lot of the things he has said is – really, it comes down to being the truth.”

“Sounds like they’re all very supportive, right?” substitute co-host Oliver North (subbing for Sean Hannity) said. “Now take a look at what happens when we read the very same people some actual quotes from Congressman Murtha about the war in Iraq.” Surprise, surprise, surprise! These same people are shown not agreeing with those statements. “I don’t think the Army’s broken, it’s just what’s going on, nobody wants to join the Army any more,” Guskey said. “I don’t think that’s true,” another man said, responding to Murtha’s statement that we can’t win the war in Iraq militarily.

“Obviously, we didn’t interview all of Mr. Murtha’s constituents,” North said. “But what you just saw is representative of the dozens of people we did interview.” How were the questions asked? We never found out but one was left with the strong suspicion that the interviewer said something like, “What if I told you Murtha said… Would that change your opinion?” Even so, did the fact that the interviewees disagreed with some of Murtha’s statements negate all the good things they said about him overall? FOX News tried to make it so. Interestingly, Alan Colmes played no part in that segment. North announced the next segment. “Up next, Mr.Murtha, himself, has changed his position on how the war is being fought. We went through a book he wrote and we’ll show you what he said in his own words.”

The next segment began with Alan Colmes reading an excerpt from Murtha's book. “An untimely exit could rapidly devolve into a civil war, which would leave America’s foreign policy in disarray as countries question not only America’s judgment, but also its perseverance.” I had visions of a summer intern, probably the son or daughter of some Republican bigwig, given the assignment of scouring through everything Murtha ever said in order to compile a reservoir upon which to base future smear-segments.

Speaking about Murtha's book, Alan Colmes noted that “You could spin this either way,” meaning Murtha didn’t say anything really different because Murtha never called for an exact timetable but, rather, a withdrawal “consistent with the safety of the troops." On the other hand, Murtha could have legitimately changed his mind.

Predictably, the Republican on the panel, an Iraq war veteran running for Congress (what a convenient platform to tout his candidacy!) echoed spinmeister Rove by calling it “a cut and run strategy.” From there, it was a short hop to attacking Murtha for his Haditha statements. Paul Rieckhoff, supposedly there to represent the other side and defend Murtha, nevertheless chastised him for speaking about Haditha too soon, then agreed with Oliver North that “cut and run” could hurt Americans. Rieckhoff never seemed to consider that smearing war vets like Murtha for political gain might hurt Americans, too.

It was Alan Colmes who pointed out that Murtha’s plan called for a redeployment of troops. “It’s not cut and run,” Colmes said, with obvious frustration.

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