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O'Reilly's interview with Bush merely provided platform for Republican talking points

Reported by Chrish - October 16, 2006 -

Bill O'Reilly was invited to the White House to interview Bush in a FOX News Exclusive, much like his exclusive prior to the 2004 elections.

O'Reilly promised to be "fair" yet "tough", but warned that in this case he would not be his usual confrontational self and would be respectful. He also gave a heads up, in his Talking Points Memo immediately preceding the interview, that the interview would cover the "most vital issues facing America": the conflicts (his emphasis)with Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and terror, rather than domestic issues. His reasoning? It does no good to look back; we must look ahead. No rehashing of WMDs!

Tonight, Iraq, Iran and NK. Tomorrow's segment will focus on terrorism, torture, "detainees" and Afghanistan (kind of an afterthought). Wednesday, grab the Alka Seltzer; O'Reilly will focus on the "personal attacks" on Bush.

The first five minutes of the interview were nothing extraordinary. Talking points covered were Iran's role in Iraq (providing certain weapons); the goal in Iraq is that the country can sustain, defend, and govern itself and become an ally in the "war on terror"; the (only) alternative is to say it's not worth it, let's leave (aka cut and run); dividing the country into three sectarian regions is not the right way to resolve the violence (it will create "a bigger mess than we have at this point in time").

O'Reilly asked, in a monotone with his eyes averted, "60%ofAmericansarenowagainstheIraqwarwhy."

Bush says it's because they want us to win, which goes entirely against O'Reilly's stance that liberals and progressives want us to lose. Uh-oh. He can't be confrontational. Bush goes on to say that Iraqis know that Americans value life and they kill to upset us, hoping it will force us to "retreat." Osama bin Laden and uh, Al Zawahiri said so. (So basically we're playing a massive bloody game of "chicken"?)

O'Reilly then said "There's one other reason they've turned against the war in Iraq, is that the anti-Bush press pounds, day in and day out, in the newspapers, on the network news, in books like Bob Woodward's, that you don't know what you're doing there. You've got no strategy, you don't listen to dissent, you've got this thing in your mind and you're stubborn and you just can't win it."

Now notice how O'Reilly has made a huge sweeping generalization that much of the media is anti-Bush, when in fact there are dozens, no, hundreds of loyal and patriotic military personnel (including high-ranking officers), former staffers, historians, analysts, and Republican officials who are dissatisfied (angry, upset, concerned...) about our path in Iraq and they are the sources for the reports. They report, we decide - and yes, we're not happy. Latest polls show 64% disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq.

Presented with the charges in that manner (perhaps the first he's heard of it??) Bush replied that he is "disappointed" in that kind of propagandizing, because the stakes are too high for that kind of illogical behavior. We have goals, he reiterated, and General Abizaid (who is the head of CENTCOM, he tells O'Reilly) and he are on the same page.

Funny he should mention CENTCOM and propaganda in the same sentence. RawStory reported just this morning that CENTCOM is approaching selected bloggers (whose writing is deemed "inaccurate", "untrue" or "incomplete") and encouraging them to use CENTCOM's website as a source. This recommendation comes from the office of Public Affairs, specifically Electronic Media Engagement Team. Ironic, huh?

Bush goes on to paint a dire imaginary ("conceivable") scenario from twenty or thirty years hence involving toppled governments, oil blackmail, and Iran's possession of a nucular weapon, which in his mind justifies our presence in Iraq now. He doesn't want people looking back from that specific scenario wondering why we didn't address the threat (though he seems fine with us looking back wondering why we didn't address global warming).

Bush denies another popular BOR talking point, that Iran is supplying weapons they get from Russia to insurgents in Iraq and they are being used in the war there (against our prople, per O'Reilly). Why, BOR asks, is Potin (sic) ahmnm (sic)? Bush defends Putin, saying there were a lot of Russian weapons in Iraq in the beginning but he doesn't think he's arming them to the point that they're used in "the theater." Bush says he would be concerned if there was a lot of evidence of Russia selling arms to Iran, but he believes Putin understands the strategic importance of not "allowing" Iran to have a nucular weapon.

On North Korea, Bush said that one-on-one talks had been tried (comment: not by his administration, which O'Reilly clarified for viewers later) and NK reneged, so he wanted to try another way, listing the countries at the table in six-party talks. (China, Russia, South Korea, Japan, US, and of course North Korea.) His attitude is simple on this: more voices saying the same thing will make it more likely NK will listen and it can be resolved peacefully.

O'Reilly pointed out that Jimmy Carter was one of the participants in the 1994 talks, and he wrote in the new York Times last week that we should attempt bilateral talks again. Bush simply disagrees, saying he's confident that it's more effective to have China, Japan, South Korea using their leverage on NK simultaneously. (Of interest, Bush referred to China as a "her" and Japan and NK as "it"s. For all the wordsmiths and shrinks out there.)

It appears there was an edit about 12.5 minutes in; Bush was answering O'Reilly's question about China's apparent refusal to inspect shipments to and from North Korea. Bush said "Condi Rice is going out to the (sounded like "farm" but that's obviously not right)..." and O'Reilly either overtalked ("Why would they do that?") and Bush shut up immediately, or there was something cut out.

O'Reilly, interrupting again a minute later, said that maybe he's wrong, but it appears to him that China and Russia both want the US to be weakened. Bush disagrees and says he thinks O'Reilly IS wrong, - pwned! - that China understands the consequences of an arms race in the Far East.

O'Reilly asked if Kim Jong Il is insane, and Bush said "we'll see." Neither he nor anyone on "his crew" has ever spoken with the NK leader. Bush said they'll be better able to judge his (Jong Il's) intentions and motives as time goes on, and he is confident that China is going to help the USA if and when need be.

My only additional comment is that these pieces are designed and edited to put Bush in the most favorable light possible, to try to boost his sinking approval ratings and to help Republicans in the mid-terms. It is virtually the same thing FOX did just before the 2004 elections, an inarguable piece of campaign propaganda. The fact that (as O'Reilly claims in the TPM) they were invited by the White House confirms that they fully expected a favorable outcome.

OK, one more thing: the idea that Americans only care or care most about the Middle East and terror is propaganda in and of itself. We care and are very concerned about rising tuitions, healthcare availability and cost, the environment, global warming, the National Debt, the growing gap between rich and poor, stagnant wages, AIDS, privacy, surveillance, government corruption, checks and balances, the integrity of our elections, Social Security solvency, a military draft, war profiteering, and the blending of church and state.

The video is avalable at FOXNews.com.