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FOX Hosts Make Unsubstantiated Claim of Connection Between MoveOn and Antiwar Military Site

Reported by Marie Therese - October 27, 2006 -

Update on this story: A short time ago a spokesman for MoveOn.org confirmed to me by phone that MoveOn has no connection to Appeal for Redress. - Marie Therese, 10-27-06, 3:51 PM EDT

Yesterday morning FOX & Friends ran two separate segments claiming that MoveOn.org - through its public relations firm, Fenton Communications - is recruiting active-duty soldiers for political purposes. They based their report on an article that appeared in the New York Sun. The Sun story mentioned MoveOn.org by name twice.

Reporter Eli Lake wrote: "Yesterday, a company that does public relations for the liberal activist political action committee MoveOn.org, Fenton Communications, organized a conference call for reporters and three active-duty soldiers to unveil the soldiers' anti-war group Appeal for Redress." Later on, Lake quoted FOX News Military Analyst Ret. Gen. Thomas McInerney as saying "I think it [this campaign to recuit soldiers] is shameful because the timing is so close to the election. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. The soldiers should be ashamed of themselves for being duped into this. It is to be expected from a MoveOn.org-type group. They have no standards."

At 6:03 AM EDT Steve Doocy started things off by saying "And now it's time to talk about MoveOn.org. Yesterday, MoveOn.org and a PR company called Fenton Communications had a conference call for reporters and they introduced to the world media three active-duty GI's - three active-duty soldiers - and what they're doing is - even though military rules say that when you are active, you are not supposed to take part in any sort of political campaigns or make political statements - three of them did. And what they did was - they have signed a petition and the petition says quote 'I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq.' Right now this group says they have 213 members."

BRIAN KILMEADE (reading): "These are all active-duty GIs and they're signin' up to essentially to protest the war. It's called Appeal for Redress. It's in the New York Sun today and this is the PR company who's organizing this, who represents MoveOn.org ... "

LAUREN GREEN: "There are some retired former generals - retired generals - who say they were not against enlisted soldiers lobbying Congress on their own as private citizens. That's OK. What they're objecting to is the fact that it's organized and that a lot of soldiers who are being asked to sign up would be unwitting dupes supporting a political movement."

Comment: Most of the "retired generals" quoted in the article were FOX News Military Analysts or frequent guests on FOX, the majority of whom are making money off of the war in Iraq and/or the "war on terror".

At one point, the lower chyron said this:

MOVEON.ORG RECRUITING ACTIVE DUTY SOLDIERS FOR CAMPAIGN

At 5:02 AM EDT, the F&F crew did a recap, saying essentially the same thing, i.e. that MoveOn.org was soliciting active-duty servicemen to sign the petition. The lower chryon was identical to the one listed above.

BRIAN KILMEADE: "...MoveOn.org has hired their PR company to get people involved and you've gotta figure with a hundred and forty-four thousand military personnel there now and all those who've been rotated through, there's gotta be people who have suffered injuries - mental - or just don't agree with the war, so if you put out an ad campaign to get some people to sign up to say 'I wish I didn't go, I don't think we should have gone', you're gonna get a response."

STEVE DOOCY: "Absolutely, And so yesterday they - this organization, MoveOn.org - their PR company, Fenton Communications, had a conference call for reporters and they introduced these three active-duty GIs ... And it certainly is political given the fact that MoveOn.org is organizing it and the fact that it is less than two weeks before the mid-term elections, before they announce this whole initiative."

*****
Lower chyron changed to read: BAD MOVE

BRIAN KILMEADE: "The Pentagon says you just can't do that in uniform. You are allowed to do that. You can talk to Congress. You just can't it in uniform because then it would appear as though you're speaking for the military. But you just know if let's say 200 Marines or airmen or seamen sign up for this, you know those quotes will be used by everybody on the Sunday talk shows. Why are so many soldiers unhappy? Why are so many airmen unhappy? And they'll be used for political purpose. The timing makes everyone's antenna go up."

COMMENT

Yesterday morning I googled this story at least ten times including MoveOn.org as a search term and, with the exception of the Sun article, nothing of consequence showed up.

I went to the website of Appeal for Redress and checked their sponsoring organizations. They are Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out and Veterans for Peace. No mention of MoveOn.org anywhere on the site.

The client list for Fenton Communications does not include Appeal for Redress, Veterans for Peace or Iraq Veterans Against the War but does include Military Families Speak Out. Additionally, MoveOn.org is a client among many, many others.

I searched MoveOn's site and could not locate this particular campaign at all.

I'm a member of MoveOn.org. I get frequent emails about their various programs. I just checked my past 100 emails and I have not received information on this topic.

The only source Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, Lauren Green and Brian Kilmeade cited was the New York Sun. The Sun story does not support their claims about MoveOn.org.

An AP report about the conference call did not mention MoveOn.org. In fact, AP points out that Appeal for Redress was started a month ago by Navy Seaman Jonathan Hutto, who is stationed in Virginia.

So, where did FOX get its information?

Why would they try so hard to link MoveOn to Appeal for Redress?

In my opinion, barring further proof to the contrary, FOX News was acting as a surrogate for the Pentagon and attempting to scare soldiers by falsely connecting a political organization (MoveOn.org) to the antiwar site Appeal for Redress, giving the impression that to sign this perfectly legal petition violates the military code.

For any member of the military who might be reading this, you can check out the pertinent DoD regulations regarding activism and protest by clicking here.