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The Heartland Has Relocated To The “Holyland”

Reported by Chrish - July 23, 2006 -

Forget the Heartland standing up for God, guns, and defense of heterosexuality – the action is all in the Middle East. Kasich’s show was a “special report” with non - stop commentary about what’s happening in Israel and Lebanon. Kasich’s techie crew was obviously not prepared for this rapid-fire type of journalism because the first few seconds of the show consisted of a shot of Kasich staring blankly into space. When Kasich realized that filming had begun, he introduced the segment by saying that “this is a special edition of Heartland,” followed by his “Middle East alert” about the Israelis bombing Sidon, a rapid-fire list of topics and guests, and a statement about “how this crisis will affect you.” He then said that he was being joined by reporters on the front line – whoops – “sorry, we’re being joined by Greg Burke in Beirut.”

Kasich asked Burke how the Israelis distinguished between Hezbollah and the rest of the neighborhoods. Burke responded that the bombings were no longer attempts to destroy infrastructure such as the airport and communication towers, but were concentrated in known Shia neighborhoods in southern Beirut. (Comment: how do the Israeli bombs distinguish between Hezbollah and innocent civilians?) Burke had some taped footage of the neighborhoods (very sterile, only wrecked buildings, no bodies). Kasich asked about the “reaction on the street’ to which Burke responded that there are “mixed feelings” and that a restaurant owner he spoke to said that “something has to be done about Hezbollah.” Kasich’s comment was “I guess they’ve learned to deal with this kind of ongoing war.” (Comment: it’s been 10 years since the last Israeli bombs!)

The next segment was a good example of the “leading question” style of interviewing. Kasich interviewed Georges Sada, former air marshall under the Saddam government and presently National Security Advisor to the new Iraq government. Mr. Sada is famous for his (now discredited) statement that Iraq had WMD’s and moved them to Syria. Kasich stated “you felt Saddam shipped his missiles to Syria and where they were shipped to Hezbollah.” Sada was careful with his answer and said “we are sure that Syria has WMD’s” and that “everybody knows that Hezbollah gets its missiles from Iran and Syria.” (Comment: a leading question that was not entirely answered; but an inference was made about the WMD’s ending up with Hezbollah.)

Later in the show, Kasich interviewed former US Secretary of State and Fox fave Lawrence Eagleburger, under whom was the chyron “can diplomatic efforts help end the conflict?” Eagleburger said that it “was a good thing” that the US is not going to support a cease-fire. He went on to say something that might be a harbinger of things to come. When asked by Kasich about the ultimate outcome, he responded that the main problem will be in breaking Hezbollah’s supply lines with Syria and that “we might need to assist with the situation and work with Saudi Arabia and Jordan”. He added that “if we have to become involved in making sure that supplies don’t come through Syria, so be it.” (Comment: sure sounds like “mission creep” to me). The next question should have been “are you saying that the US will commit troops:” but that was the last word.

There were more segments with former US and Israeli military types and “terrorism experts” who all said the same things that are being constantly reiterated on Fox – Hezbollah evil, missiles from Iran powerful, yadda, yadda. But towards the end of the show, Kasich had an interview that once again demonstrated his keen intellect.

He interviewed Shirin Tabir, whose father is an Iranian Muslim and whose mother is American. Although she is a Christian, she has written a book, Muslims Next Door, which is all about building bridges with the Muslim community in order to deal with prejudices that result from negative stereotypes. She described the Muslims extremists as a cult like minority within Islam and said that other Muslims need to speak against them and be supported by non-Muslims. Kasich said that he didn’t understand how people could be so brainwashed. (Comment: is he talking about Fox News and the American religious right?) But here’s the moment of Kasich ephiphany – “there’s a war going on and a war inside Islam that must be won and all of us must do our part. In a world of lethal weapons, it’s worth inviting Muslims to universities (the ones we can save) or just getting people together and saying that we’re going to knock some heads.”

Comment: Kasich’s insight into a major world religion is truly amazing – as well as his approach to international diplomacy! This show was the usual disjointed mix of guests and ideas. Where are the politicians on the various committees that involve international relations? One interesting note at the end of the program – Kasich interviewed a young Lebanese-American woman, from Cleveland OH, who was evacuated. He also spoke to her cousin who is still in Beirut and who detailed the deteriorating situation. I would like to think that the Lebanese American community has put some pressure on Fox to show their side. At any rate, “war, what is it good for” – absolutely Fox ratings!