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Special Report Desperate to Spin Bush's Iraq - Vietnam Comparison

Reported by Janie - October 20, 2006 -

Fox News Correspondent Brett Baier filed the opening segment of "Special Report" last night (10/19) whose sole purpose was spinning George Bush's Iraq - Vietnam comparison. Baier did this by turning it into a segment about how the increased violence in Iraq is a political ploy by Al Qaeda to influence the upcoming Congressional election.

BB: "On the campaign trail in PA, President Bush insisted pulling out of Iraq meant a victory for terrorists like Osama Bin Laden."

Comment: Baier makes sure the first words out of his mouth are the most up-to-date GOP talking points, thus setting the tone with his very first sentence.

George Bush (clip): "For the sake of the security of the US, we must defeat the enemy in Iraq so America will stay, we will fight and we will win in Iraq."

Comment: Follow-up the talking point by adding a strong soundbyte from a Republican.

BB: "But it was the President's comments Wednesday in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, that garnered the most news coverage."

Comment: Make sure to add a comment that implies any media but Fox is biased towards the left - even though the comparison is the most newsworthy.

BB: "The President was asked about Thomas Freidman's column in the New York Times, stating that the recent spike of violence in Iraq might be the Iraqi equivalent to the 1968 Tet Offensive in the Vietnam war."

Comment: Provide the conservative boogeyman: The New York Times. Don't, however; mention Freidman's conservative tendencies. Wouldn't want the propaganda tainted.

Baier next cut to a clip of the interview in question.

GS: "Do you think?"

GB: "It could be right. There's certainly a stepped up level of violence, and we're heading into an election."

GS: "But what does your gut tell you?"

GB: "My gut tells me that they have been all along trying to inflict enough damage that we leave."

BB: "The 1968 Tet Offensive is seen by most historians as a turning point in the Vietnam war. A moment that did serious damage to public support for the war, and for President Lyndon Johnson. White House spokesman Tony Snow insisted President Bush was simply reiterating that the enemy in Iraq is trying to influence public opinion as he responded to Tom Freidman's analogy."

Comment: This argument simply makes no sense. As you will see, Baier gives only a brief history on the decline of public support for the Vietnam war after the Tet Offensive, but doesn't tell the viewers that after the battle, the Gallup organization found one-in-five Americans had switched their classification from "hawk" to "dove" when it came to the war. Baier also doesn't mention that 64% of Americans are ALREADY against the war. Public opinion can't be swayed too much farther, so both Baier and the Administration are using a straw-man argument.

Tony Snow: "Tom's the guy who introduced Tet. We have said it is very limited, is the attempt to use images as a way of influencing public opinion. We do not think that there has been a flip over point…"

BB: "Don Oberdorfer, a journalist and author of the book 'Tet', says what most people forget about the Tet offensive, and what has not been mentioned in the news stories on the President's ABC interview, is that Tet was a huge military loss for the North Vietnamese, and the Viet Cong."

The segment continued along the same path for the remainder of its time, attempting to make sure Fox viewers understand that the US won the Tet Offensive, that it caused massive causalities for the Viet Cong, and that the increased violence in Iraq is a ploy to influence the impending elections.

Baier interviewed one retired Army general that made the claim the increased violence is Al Qaeda's way of getting the US out of Iraq, which Baier let pass without acknowledging that the vast amount of the insurgency is not made up of Al Qaeda or foreign fighters, but of Iraqis themselves. Of course, Baier also neglected to mention overall, 71% of Iraqi citizens want us out within the year and 61% approve of insurgent attacks on US-led forces.

The entire segment was used as a tool for the Administraton to clarify the president's remarks comparing Iraq to Vietnam, since rather than just reporting or analyzing the comment - Baier reported the Administration's spin as fact.