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Hume Proves Clinton/Frank Criticism of Fox Interviews in Softball Questioning of Bush

Reported by Janie - December 5, 2006 -

Brit Hume hosted George Bush during last night's (12/4) "Special Report", and proved Bill Clinton's and Barney Frank's criticisms of Fox News biased interviews correct. Hume spent much of the interview throwing softball questions to Bush, leading him in his answers, and allowing him to avoid answering certain questions he did not wish to answer.

Hume began the interview by discussing Bush's recent meeting with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

BH: Mr. President, it's good to see you. You just came from a meeting with an important Shiite political leader in Iraq, Mr. Hakim. What happened in there?

GB: Well, his eminence came for the second time to the Oval Office and we had a very good discussion about the way forward in Iraq. Of course, I was listening for a couple of things. I was listening for whether or not this powerful figure was dedicated to a unity government. He is. There is a lot of talk about Shia dominance to the exclusion of other folks in Iraq. I didn't hear that at all. Quite the contrary. I listened to a man that understands the way forward is for there to be a government of and by and for the people. His words were 'we want the people to dictate the government'. Let the people determine the course. I was much impressed by his attitudes.

BH: Did you get specific ideas from him about what he might now to do advance that proposition?

GB: Well, first and foremost, he supports the Maliki government. As a matter of fact, I asked him during the meeting, I said I just want you to understand, I met with the Prime Minister, the head of the government, and that I don't want the Prime Minister to construe that this meeting doesn't in any way support him. He said I understand that, as a matter of fact he called PM Malaki right before our meeting to ensure Maliki that our meeting, that was going to be on TV would be viewed as positive. He supports the Maliki government. He believes PM Malaki has what it takes to move the government forward. What he did was express the same concerns that the PM did to me, that is, the issue of capability. How fast can the Iraqis have the capability to do the hard work of defeating terrorists and murderers who want to stop this county.

Let me say one thing about both the PM and his eminence, Mr. Hakim, both of them understand that murderers must be stopped. That you can't have a society, a constitutional government presiding over a society, in which murderers are allowed to run free. Both men said, we will deal with murderers regardless of their political persuasion. I appreciated that a lot. I said look, we understand Al Qaeda, and we're going to prevent Al Qaeda from taking safe haven in Iraq, what Americans are trying to figure out is why Iraqis are killing Iraqis when you have a better future ahead. And their response is, we have a responsibility as a government to stop that from happening. And I believe they are committed from stopping that from happening.

Hume then turned his attention to Bush's opinion of the current Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri Al-Maliki. This segment of the interview seemed to intentionally attempt to provide Bush with an "out", after his administration's criticisms of the Prime Minister in the Hadley memo were recently leaked. This criticism, and the memo were, of course, not mentioned.

According to the memo:

"Despite Maliki’s reassuring words, repeated reports from our commanders on the ground contributed to our concerns about Maliki’s government. Reports of nondelivery of services to Sunni areas, intervention by the prime minister’s office to stop military action against Shia targets and to encourage them against Sunni ones, removal of Iraq’s most effective commanders on a sectarian basis and efforts to ensure Shia majorities in all ministries — when combined with the escalation of Jaish al-Mahdi’s (JAM) [the Arabic name for the Mahdi Army] killings — all suggest a campaign to consolidate Shia power in Baghdad.

While there does seem to be an aggressive push to consolidate Shia power and influence, it is less clear whether Maliki is a witting participant. The information he receives is undoubtedly skewed by his small circle of Dawa advisers, coloring his actions and interpretation of reality. His intentions seem good when he talks with Americans, and sensitive reporting suggests he is trying to stand up to the Shia hierarchy and force positive change. But the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action."

The interview showed a significantly different view of Maliki.

BH: Well, you've indicated as well after your meeting with Prime Minister Al Maliki that this is a guy that so to speak 'wants the ball'. Has he prepared, in your judgment, to take on the influence of Maqtada Al Sadr and to address that problem.

Comment: Hume asks a specific question about the influence of Al Sadr, but in the following answer, Bush refuses to even mention his name and avoids answering the question. Hume does not press the point, as he and other Fox interviewers would have done if the subject were not a Republican.

GB: I think he is. I know he is prepared to take on the fact that there are murderers in that society. What I'm looking for is someone who says a society in which murder and assignations is not acceptable, regardless of who's doing it. I absolutely believe the PM and Mr. Hakim are committed to ending murder. Now, the hard work is to get it done. Particularly, when you have outside influences like Al Qaeda stirring up sectarian violence through suiciders or spectacular death. But the first thing, I'm asked all the time, is Maliki the right guy and I said he was, and the reason why is because I believe his intentions are correct and now the question is how do we get him the capabilities to get the job done.

BH: Do you believe he is prepared to do the things politically within his own country, perhaps to realign his own governing coalition, to free him to do these things?

GB: I do. And I was heartened today in my conversations with his eminence, Mr. Hakim, because talked about a group of moderates, as he called them, coming together to continue to ensure the Iraqi people there is a peaceful future for them. That's all part of weaning their government away from those who to promote extremism to those who promote peace.

The interview turned to the resignation of UN Ambassador John Bolton (to be covered in a subsequent article) before turning to the topic of Rumsfeld's memo that was also recently leaked, in which he offered some surprising options for the war in Iraq.

BH: The town is buzzing over the Rumsfeld memo that was leaked to the New York Times. How do you view that memo? Do you consider that a list of things that you might do? How do you view it in relation to the other advice documents you've been getting and will be getting?

GB: One of the key points is that I'm getting a lot of advice documents. Of course these documents were never intended to be read in the public. These are frank assessments by different members of my administration. We're going to be getting another advice document from the Baker Hamilton commission soon. My attitude is that I ought to absorb everything that is being said. Because I am not satisfied with the progress being made in Iraq.

BH: Right.

GB: And neither is the Iraqi leadership. And so I'm listening to the Iraqis, I want to listen to members of Congress, I want to listen to obviously Baker Hamilton. More importantly, when it comes to military matters, I want to listen to the military. To come up with a way of achieving this objective quicker. So this is an important period.

BH: Speaking of objectives, what did you tell Bob Gates when you chose him to succeed Donald Rumsfeld, what the objective was in Iraq?

GB: A government that can sustain, govern and defend itself, a free government that can sustain, govern and defend itself and is an ally in the war on terror.

Comment: Hume showed his unwavering bias in the next STATEMENT of opinion he makes.

BH: That sounds very familiar, Mr. President, it sounds like you told him what you've been telling everyone all along. Your objective hasn't changed.

GB: My objective hasn't changed.

BH: And how did he respond to that?

GB: He said I think we can achieve that objective.

BH: And did he, did you in any sense suggest to him that his mission is get the United States out of there?

GB: No. My objective is to succeed, and I'll tell you why. Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for your grandchildren. And the reason why it'd be a disaster for your grandchildren, is because we are now in an ideological struggle between extremists and people who want to live in peace. And the, Al Qaeda has made it clear they want to team up with extremists in Iraq to drive us out of Iraq and the Middle East. We'd be disgraced, and our allies would no longer support us, and when you throw in the mix Iran, which is very aggressive in the Middle East, you've got the ingredients for a very dangerous situation. So whether it be a democracy succeeding in Lebanon, or a democracy succeeding in the Palestinian territories, or the young democracy of Iraq succeeding, it's in our interest we achieve that objective and Mr. Gates understands that we're in an ideological struggle and the United States must succeed in helping this young democracy sustain, govern and defend itself.

BH: When Donald Rumsfeld was named, of course that was pre-9/11, and you gave him the mission of the transformation of the shape of the United States military. Everything that I've been told about what goes on over there, is that project goes forward only when and if Donald Rumsfeld is there to shove it forward. Do you anticipate that Bob Gates will be able to carry that out in a way that Rumsfeld did?

GB: I think that Don Rumsfeld has done remarkable work in transforming our military. I believe he has got the process far enough down the road and Bob Gates will be able to continue that.

BH: You do?

GB: Because it's the objective of my administration. It's exactly what I told him when I talked to him about taking this job. I talked to him about two things, I talked to him about succeeding in the middle east, and secondly transforming the military at the same time.

The interview next turned to Bush's opinion of officials referring to the sectarian violence in Iraq as a "civil war".

BH: Kofi Annan has now joined others including Colin Powell in declaring that is a civil war. What is you reaction on that?

GB: Listen, I've heard a lot of voices say that. And I've talked to people there in Iraq that don't believe that's the case. For example, some would argue the fact that 90%, most of the country, outside of the Baghdad is a relatively peaceful, doesn't indicate a civil war as far as they're concerned. I, by the way, I get briefings all the time about where the level of violence is, and the American people would be interested to know most of it occurs around the Baghdad area, therefore they don't get to see the normalcy of life outside of the Baghdad area. There's all kinds of areas. There's no question it's dangerous, there's no question it's violent, and no question we have to do something about the sectarian violence, by helping the Iraqi government do something about it.

BH: As you mentioned the Baker Hamilton commission is about to make that report to you, here. The expectations for that sir, as you know, are very high. There are members of Congress already practically declaring their allegiance to whatever the findings are going to be. How much weight does that, does that report get special weight with you because of that, and because of all that goes with it, as against the other forms of advice you're receiving at such volumes?

GB: I need to see the report. I don't want to prejudge what's in the report. First of all, I respect James Baker and I respect Lee Hamilton. I've met with the commission, it's a very fine group of people that are going to take a good solid, objective look about Iraq. Looking forward to it. It's very hard for me to prejudice one report over another, they're all important. I'm going to listen to what they have to say. I just want the American people to understand that the mission is to have this young democracy to succeed, failure would be a disaster for the future of this country.

The interview finished with Bush discussing his relationship with his father. The full interview can be viewed at Foxnews.com.

This "interview" was nothing more than a half hour PR stunt for Bush, providing him with an outlet to reflect criticism in an environment that is not only friendly, but outright attempting to help better his image. Hume did nothing to dispell Clinton and Frank's criticisms of Fox and their bias, by asking nothing but softball questions and leading Bush to the best answers to help his image.