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Republicans, Beware! On FOX News, If You Don't Agree with George Bush, You Will Be Trashed

Reported by Marie Therese - January 29, 2007 -

It has been interesting to watch FOX News struggling to come to terms with a Republican Party that no longer genuflects when the name "George Bush" is mentioned. In addition to a definite change in the mood of the voters, staunch conservative Republicans like Sam Brownback have joined moderates like Chuck Hagel and John Warner in opposing the President's ill-advised attempt to escalate the conflict in Iraq. With the much-vaunted Republican monolith showing massive cracks, it seems that FOX News has decided to throw its weight behind only those Republicans who support the Bush-Cheney agenda. Does this mean that we all missed the true essence of FOX News?

Was it, all along, nothing more than a small group of really rich men using the national airwaves to promote their own self-interest? Is Rupert Murdoch simply the modern-day incarnation of D. B. Norton, the manipulative publisher-financier created by Frank Capra in Meet John Doe? In the movie Norton, played by the wonderful actor Edward Arnold, epitomizes Capra's view of the dark side of the American experiment, i.e. the threat to liberty presented by driven, power hungry men of immense wealth who manipulate the masses by wrapping themselves in the cloak of the "common man".

Yesteday morning on FOX News Sunday, host Chris Wallace interviewed Republican Presidential candidate, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas. (He also interviewed self-styled "Independent-Democrat" Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. Wallace's demeanor was decidedly different with the two men. He was belligerent and challenging towards Brownback and conciliatory and respectful towards Lieberman.)

Wallace started off by asking Brownback whether or not he would support Sen. John Warner's resolution regarding the surge. Brownback answered in the affirmative, mentioning that the Warner resolution contained "a lot of the Baker-Hamilton type of thought and language about how we move to a political solution regionally inside Iraq and in the countries in the area and also a political solution here." Brownback continued, saying "Chris, we've got to get people pulling together here - Republicans and Democrats -'cause you can't run a war with one party for it and one party against it and we've got to win in Iraq."

Wallace then let loose with a loaded question designed to put his guest on the defensive.

CHRIS WALLACE: "Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said this week that passing this kind of resolution would embolden the enemy. Given that warning, why would you go ahead and vote for the Warner resolution anyway?"

Brownback handled the answer very well (unlike a lot of ill-prepared Democrats who appear on FOX). Rather than engage Wallace on the implication that somehow he, Brownback, supports terrorism, the Senator instead answered: "I don't see this enemy as needing any more emboldening or getting it from any resolution. They're emboldened now. I was there about two weeks ago in Iraq. I was in Baghdad. I was in northern Iraq in Urbil. This is a very aggressive situation. ... I talked with [Masoud] Barzani, the head of the Kurdish group and he was sayin' he wouldn't vote for more troops to go in because you've got to first force the Sunni and the Shi'a to start sitting down and talking about a political accomodation and that's not happening."

Later Wallace quoted a comment Brownback made to MSNBC reiterating this same point and asked, belligerently, "Senator, you even suggest that you might be willing to compromise with the Democrats on putting a cap on the number of troops in Iraq. Is that kind of political compromise any way to fight and win a war?"

Brownback mentioned the "first street protest" about the war, presumably referring to Main Street America and the vote last November. He then praised the Iraq Study Group, saying "I thought it was a good report", a position that sealed his fate.

Chris Wallace ratcheted up the rhetoric, quoting a Bush administration talking point, arguing that "sometimes a Commander in Chief can't compromise" because "he's gotta do what he thinks he needs to do to win." Wallace continued: "Let me give you an example. You were among the unanimous Senate members who voted 81 to nothing to confirm Lt. Gen. [David] Petraeus to send him over to be the new commander in Iraq. And, yet, you now say that you're gonna vote for a resolution that would deny him the troops he says he needs to win."

Brownback shot back with the very revealing information that as late as fall 2006, Gen. David Petraeus did NOT support a surge of troops into Iraq.

BROWNBACK: "We talked about the situation in Iraq at length. He did not raise at that point in time the need for troop surge. He talked about the need for a political solution."

Brownback could not complete his thought because Chris Wallace interrupted him to do damage control, once again repeating the the Senator was denying the general what he needed. Brownback persisted in his contention that last fall Gen. Petraeus did not support a surge without a political component.

BROWNBACK: "I'm also tellin' you what I have had from conversations from him and from Sunni and Shi'a leaders who have not asked for or sought this additional surge or the Kurdish group, which is kind of the group in between the two, who are saying they wouldn't support the surge."

Wallace changed the subject, in a patently ridiculous effort to portray Brownback as a flip-flopper on the subject abortion.

In a mailing to his supporters, Brownback has described himself as "the only tried-and-true conservative seeking the Republican Party's nomination," claiming that "differing stands on life and marriage represent the main contrast between the candidates running for the Republican nomination."

To the FOX News audience, Brownback described himself the only candidate who has been consistent in his conservative point of view on issues of marriage, stem cell research and abortion, in contrast to other candidates (like John McCain) who have changed their positions to bring them more in line with the conservative message.

BROWNBACK: "I've been standing for life all along and I'll continue to and I think other people in this race have not stood for life all along. I've been standing and fighting for marriage as the union of a man and a woman, bonded together for life. I've fought for those in the Senate and others have voted diifferently on those."

Brownback complimented his fellow Republican candidates, calling them "great people", only with views that differed from his own. "I don't challenge any of their qualifications or abilities," Brownback observed. "It's a good set of people running in this field."

Chris Wallace then asked a question tthat was so inappropriate that I had to run my tape a second time just to prove that I'd heard it correctly.

WALLACE: "Let me ask you another question about Governor Romney. Do you think a Mormon is a true Christian?"

BROWNBACK: "Oh, I'm not going to get into theological issues and we don't have religious tests for public office in this country and we shouldn't have them. I think people bring their set of values into the public arena and they debate them based on the set of issues and ideas. ..."

Sam Brownback and I are polar opposites on the issues, but I give him brownie points for the classy way he handled Wallace's inflammatory question.

Wallace then challenged Brownback's pro-life stance in what has to be one of the most ridiculous, indeed, laughable forays in FOX News history. Brownback is and has been one of the most outspoken critics of abortion and the doctors who perform them. In light of his record on the subject, Wallace's next set of "accusations" was nothing short of a trip to fantasy land.

Chris Wallace then "doocyed" * Brownback, using a hearsay report that appeared 12 years ago in the Kansas City Star and were recently repeated last December in the Lawrence Journal-World. The report claimed that "when he [Brownback] first ran, he took a pro-choice position ...."

Such an accusation against Brownback borders on the ludicrous, given his record, which is essentially what the Senator told Wallace.

COMMENT

It became obvious in this interview that FOX News has already decided which Republican candidates it supports and Sam Brownback is not one of them.

So, Republican Presidential candidates, beware! Unless you are on FOX's approved list, you, too, will face the same treatment that FOX routinely accords to Democrats.

Unless, of course, your name is Joe Lieberman and you're an "Independent Democrat". Then you will be treated with kid gloves by the likes of Chris Wallace because you are a special person who possibly has a bright future as the American Ambassador to some country (Israel?), a job that would require you to relinquish your Senate seat, thus giving the Republican governor of Connecticut the chance to swing the balance in the Senate by appointing a Republican to take your seat.


* "Doocy" is a new verb coined by Jonathan Alter of Newsweek in a recent article discussing "FOX & Friends" host Steve Doocy's scurrilous attack on Sen. Barack Obama. It refers to someone who falsely attacks another in the national media based on a questionable source and without first checking the facts, all the while smiling with smug superiority. We would like to do our part to see that the word "doocy" is eventually added to the vernacular. - MT