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Conservative Blasts Bush Over North Korean Inaction

Reported by Judy - July 8, 2006 -

Fox News may be having a tough time keeping up its pro-Bush line in the face of conservative anger over George Bush's inaction in the North Korean missile crisis, as Brenda Buttner, host of "Bulls and Bears," discovered on Saturday (July 8, 2006). Buttner struggled to keep Mike Norman of BizRadio Network in line as he criticized Bush's weak reaction to North Korea.

Buttner's intro to the segment demonstrated the untenable nature of Fox News' decision to both tie its fortunes to George Bush and simultaneously stir up fear amongst the public over evil-doers out to attack the U.S. When Bush looks weak, as he does right now vis a vis North Korea, Fox News' fear-mongering threatens to backfire against Bush. Buttner had no choice but to try to shut up Norman.

Buttner introduced the segment by warning "the stock market under attack from two enemies in the axis of evil, North Korea and Iran. What's it mean for your money?"

"Are you kidding me?" asked Norman. "This is a significant danger to the market, to the economy, to America. You have two rogue nations, both sponsors of terrorism, one with nuclear weapons, developing a delivery system pointing it at us. The danger intensified last week when after the launch of seven missiles, what did we do? We joined the club of appeasers, apparently, by siding with Japan and Europe and South Korea, and running to 47th Street, the United Nations, in order to lodge a protest, when on the sidelines we have our supposed allies, China and Russia, who are saying we are going to veto anything. Anyway, we’re not going along with a resolution.

"We are going to be bombed. We’re going to be bombed. The stock market, you can say goodbye to it. You can say hello anarchy when that happens.”

Gary B. Smith, of Exemplar Capital, tried to downplay Norman's fears, joking that he was thinking of not doing the rest of the show since he thought he'd be deal within hours, but then he insisted that since nothing has happened yet so the market won't be concerned until something does.

But moderate Pat Dorsey, of morningstar.com, noted that the threat posed by North Korea is qualitatively different from that posed by Iran, because North Korea actually has nuclear bombs and is working on a delivery system. "The Iranian government is to some extent rational. We may not agree with their policies. They may be strange, but there is some kind of calculus going on there. The folks in North Korea may just think they can take on the world and win and that’s what makes it just so frightening," he said.

Meredith Whitney, of CIBC World Markets, joined Smith in trying to ridicule Norman. "I'm just amazed that Mike is threatened by a missile that goes off for 40 seconds," she said.

Norman came back at her: "That’s exactly the problem, because our president, and I voted for him twice, the only thing he was capable of doing on that Wednesday was joking about the fact that it fell into the ocean after 40 seconds. In other words, we’re going to give them the time to develop it so that it come here."

"I think these guys are blow hards. I think that Wall Street knows it," insisted Whitney, calling Norman a madman as Buttner struggled to keep the discussion under control.

Scott Bleier, of hybridinvestors.com, got into the act, telling Norman: "Mike is nuts. Zipper your mouth. Don’t say a word," and insisting that "we're all making too big a deal of this" because the economy did just fine during the Cold War. While Norman tried to make the point that the Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine kept the U.S. and former Soviet Union from blowing each other up and that might not work with North Korea, Bleier kept repeating, "You're nuts, you're nuts."

Dorsey again sided with Norman, noting that a North Korean missile does not have to hit the U.S. to harm the world economy. Hitting Tokyo would be enough. "These are nuclear weapons. This is not a large bomb taking out a large skyscraper. This is the real deal, and I think that's what sort of puts it over the edge in terms of potential concern," he said.

Fox News is in a bind on its North Korean coverage -- torn between wanting to scare people to death and yet keep them in line behind their protector George Bush. It's a difficult dance. Bush looks weak, the victim of his neglect of North Korea for six years as he allowed his administration to become bogged down with an ill-advised war in Iraq. Fox News is stuck with Bush and will have to ride that horse wherever it goes.