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Wall-to-Wall War on Live Desk

Reported by Judy - October 21, 2006 -

Martha MacCallum has largely ignored the war on Iraq recently, despite polls showing it's the top issue on voters' minds this fall. But she made up for the lack of attention in one fell swoop on Friday (October 20, 2006) by devoting a big chunk of her show to a Tony Snow news briefing on George Bush's possible change in strategy on Iraq.

Well, I think it's a change in tactics. Maybe it's a change in strategy. It's definitely not a change in goals. Snow tried to differentiate among the three without achieving much clarity. Bottom line: Bush needs to look like he's doing something about Iraq but he isn't ready to give up and admit defeat, especially as long as Americans are willing to send their sons and daughters to die there and over-pay Halliburton billlions of dollars to feed them.

After a half hour of listening to Snow explain why Bush is sticking to the same failed plan for reaching an unobtainable goal, I thought perhaps MacCallum would boil it all down for me. You know, apply her years of journalistic experience to explain what Snow was trying to say. Separate the wheat from the chaff.

"A lot of discussion about the word strategy, the definition of the word tactic," MacCallum noted, with an uncanny ability to state the obvious.

Then, for expert analysis, she turned to Fox's favorite convicted felon who got off on a technicality, Oliver North. MacCallum did ask North a decent question: What does it mean to "win" in Iraq?

North was remarkably honest: "WInning the war is an Iraqi democracy that represents the people. It's a country that has stability and allows it to exploit the extraordinary oil wealth of the country to the benefit of all the people. And it stands as a bastion against the expansionist ideas of people like Ahmadinajad in Iran next door who clearly would like to make this part of his Caliphate." In other words, we win if Iraq can still sell us oil and be our puppet against Iran.

After that in-depth analysis, MacCallum switched to another war -- one everybody likes, especially those of whose who never had to fight in it or live through it. North was there to promote his weekend show on the Battle of Iwo Jima.

And actor Barry Pepper was there to talk about his upcoming movie, "Flags of Our Fathers," about the men photographed raising the flag on Iwo Jima. MacCallum, of course, never mentioned that the flag raising was posed, not spontaneous. Pepper stressed that the film is not just a "straight ahead war film," but the chyron read, "Remembering World War II" and MacCallum's questions did not probe what Pepper meant. The whole segment was an attempt at a rah-rah moment, rallying voters to support this war like they did the one more than 60 years ago.

Then it was time for an abbreviated "A-List," a group which was one of the weakest so far -- a doctor, a Young Republican from Columbia University, a local New York journalist, and Ghazal Omid, whom Fox News promotes as a Muslim scholar but is really just a conservative mouthpiece.

Here again, MacCallum was trying to buck up the troops of American voters who have soured on the war, posing the "question," "A lot of people feeling in this country as they watch the violent images and hear about everything that this may be a lost cause. What do you think?"

Omid, of course, disagreed. She loves the fact that Americans are dying, fighting Iraqis battles for them. Chris Kulawik, the Young Republican, agreed that the "war must be won" and that the U.S. should "appeal to the people," making an inept and inappropriate comparison to the Solidarity movement in Poland, which was a grassroots movement and not created by some outside appeal to the people.

Meanwhile, Fox News used its chyrons to re-emphasize Snow's Bush propaganda -- points that were not important enough apparently for MacCallum herself to attempt to summarize them after Fox News cut away from him. Ron Corning, "Good Day New York" anchor, was making the point that Bush's meeting might be a last-ditch effort before the mid-term elections to look like Bush is doing something about Iraq, but as he spoke, the lower third of the screen was reading: "Snow: There is a Sense of National Unity in Iraq." "Snow" Makes Sense to Build on Sense of Iraqi Identity." "Snow: Iraq Must be Able to Sustain and Defend Itself."

The panel did not have a single apparent liberal. The doctor didn't weigh in on this topic so who knows what she thought. Actually, it doesn't matter. Fox News already had told us what to think with its graphics.