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MacCallum Sugar Coats Bush Speech

Reported by Judy - October 26, 2006 -

Fox News managed to conceal most of the significance of George Bush's news conference on the war on Iraq Wednesday (Oct. 25, 2006), glossing over Bush's admission of bad news there and substituting a string of platitudes on the screen designed to reassure its conservative audience about how well things are going there.

On the "Live Desk," MacCallum showed a clip from early in the news conference when Bush acknowledged 93 American deaths in Iraq this month and admitted that "events of the last month have been a serious concern to me, and a serious concern to the American people."

As he spoke, however, Fox News displayed a banner reading, "Bush: Constantly adjusting tactics to achieve victory," telling viewers not to worry.

MacCallum then noted that Democrats criticized Bush's remarks later, calling them too little, too late, but MacCallum did not have any of them on the show and did not offer any more of their statements than that brief summary. Nor did she mention that Republicans recently have criticized Bush's conduct of the war on Iraq.

For the second time this week, MacCallum went to Fox News military analyst retired Maj.Gen. Robert Scales for reaction, who said the military is having to adapt to a new situation in Iraq because the opposition keeps changing tactics. He also expressed optimism about Iraq's future on the basis that the U.S. military has decided to put more responsibility on the Iraqi army.

Meanwhile, Fox News displayed a series of banners summarizing not the news of Bush's news conference, but the same old rhetoric he has been spewing for years: "Bush: Power of Liberty Will Defeat Ideology of Hate," "Bush: Al Qaeda Is On the Run and 9/11 Mastermind Was Captured," and "Bush: We Must Not Leave Before the Job Is Done."

MacCallum also brought the issue up before her "A-List" panel: Dominic Carter, senior political correspondent for NY1; Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee; Jodi Applegate, “Good Day New York” anchor, and humorist Andy Borowitz, author of the Republican Handbook.

Except for Carter, who noted Bush was "trying to stop the damage" in polling with the press conference, the A-List had nothing to really add to the topic. Borowitz had a few quips about Bush cutting and running from staying the course, and predicted Bush might withdraw all the troops from Iraq through Iran, but this is a serious topic -- the top one on voter's minds this year.

Blackburn insisted that, "We have to win in the war on terror," continuing the GOP line that the war on Iraq is part of the war on terror. Meanwhile, Fox News displayed a graphic that quoted Blackburn as saying, "War on Terror Not TV Show."

Interesting, especially since she had not yet said that and did not say it for several more minutes, when she said the war on Iraq is not a TV sitcom. Does the "Live Desk" rehearse the "A-List" ahead of time so that the graphics can be ready? Does Fox News tell the guests what to say? Or are the producers clairvoyant? How is it that this consistently happens on the "Live Desk," that quotes show up on the screen before the guests actually say them?