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Fox News Goes Easy on Bush's 'My Pet Goat' Moment

Reported by Judy - September 11, 2006 -

Few Americans saw the video of George Bush sitting in a Florida classroom while the Twin Towers burned until Michael Moore had the courage to put it in a movie, but Fox News showed a portion of it Monday (September 11, 2006) while managing to surround it with enough Republican spin to try to make it into a courageous moment.

"Fox and Friends" played a few seconds of the video showing White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card stepping up the president and whispering in his ear, "A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack,” and then stepping away, leaving the president sitting there staring into space until he picks up the book and begins to read.

Then "Fox and Friends" co-host E.D. Hill took over to add the spin: "Look at his face and try to comprehend the information that is going through his mind then, and wondering how, if you had to be the person, if you had to tell the president this news, how would you phrase it."

Then she tossed a softball to Andrew Card, "When you got the news, what went through your mind, and how did you figure out here’s what I’m going to tell him?"

"I decided that I did not want to have a conversation with the president or answer a question in front of these very young school students. He was in a classroom with extremely young elementary school students so I was decided I would pass on two facts and then make one editorial comment, and then step away from the president so he wouldn’t ask me a question," Card said, sticking to the president's line before the 9/11 commission that he sat there for so long because he didn't want to alarm the school children, even as all hell was breaking out and people elsewhere in the country were being terrorized.

Instead, Card is allowed to say, without challenge, that "I was mightily impressed with how he reacted at that time. He did nothing to introduce fear to those young students, or to the American people or the people of the world through the press corps that was covering him, and then I watched as he met his aswesome responsibilities consistent with the oath he took on January 20, 2001 where he said that he would preserve, protect and defend that constitution.”

"Fox and Friends" co-host Steve Doocy brought up in a non-threatening way the possibility of getting Bush out of the classroom earlier, saying, "If you had a do-over do you think you should have gotten out of that room faster?"

"I'm not sure that it would have made any difference," said Card, facing no contradiction from either Doocy or Hill.

Instead, Hill said that, "I still well up, I still get the goose-bumps” even though she has watched that video over and over. (I wonder how, since it was rarely seen before Moore showed it.)

In fact, there is plenty to criticize Bush for, based on the 9/11 Commission Report, about those moments while the nation was under attack. The first plane struck the trade center at 8:46 a.m. Bush knew before he went into the classroom, at 8:55 a.m., that it was a commercial airliner, not a small plane. A take-charge guy with a curious mind might have asked somebody (Andrew Card?) to call the FAA and find out what the hell was going on. A call from the president's office might have gotten officials there out of a closed-door meeting so that they could have found out from their staff that other planes had been hijacked.

Card did not have to have a conversation with Bush in front of the school children or alarm them. Instead of letting Bush sit there like a bump on a log, he could have told the president at 9:05 a.m. that the nation was under attack and that he was needed immediately to coordinate the military response and that he needed to immediately excuse himself and leave. Then Card could have turned to the audience and said simply that Bush was needed for urgent business, goodbye. Instead, it was almost 9:15 a.m. before Bush got out of the classroom and to a holding area where, instead of taking charge, he started working on a speech.

The 9/11 Commission Report says no one in the president's party even bothered to call the Pentagon. "The focus was on the President's statement to the nation. The only decision made during this time was to return to Washington," the report says (39). Then followed the bizarre period when Bush basically disappears as his plane flies around for a while, lands once, and then finally goes to Omaha.

In the meantime, the 9/11 commission report says, no one was coordinating the American response. Instead, there were "parallel decisionmaking processes going on" and "competing venues for command and control," according to testimony it received (p. 36).

Coordinating the response was Bush's job and he didn't do it because he didn't want to scare anybody. Or maybe he just wanted to see how "My Pet Goat" turned out.