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FOX News Goofs Again. Or Was It Deliberate? Labels Joe Lieberman a "Democrat."

Reported by Marie Therese - June 11, 2007 -

Updated. Video added. What on earth is going on at FOX News? Last week, they made an embarrassing mistake, airing footage of Rep. John Conyers while discussing Rep. William Jefferson. Sunday night, on Hannity's America, during a six-minute interview, they identified Connecticut's Independent Senator Joe Lieberman four separate times as a Democrat! Of course, given the topic - Lieberman's attitudes towards Iraq and the various Democratic and Republican candidates - it served FOX's purposes to mislead its viewers into believing that Sen. Lieberman still represented the Democratic party. Are we seeing the beginning of a pro-war, right wing no-holds-barred push to entice the Connecticut Independent into the Republican camp?

Host Sean Hannity spoke with Lieberman about his recent trip to Iraq and "who he plans on endorsing for the White House in 2008." Right off the bat, Hannity verbally implied that Lieberman is a Democrat.

HANNITY: "You were very critical of the comments of Harry Reid - the 'war is lost.' What does that mean to you in terms of your relationship with your own party?"

When Lieberman's image came on screen, the lower chyron appeared for the first time, reading CONNECTICUT SENATOR JOE LIEBERMAN (D).

Lieberman answered as if he was a Democrat, saying "Well, it's - this is nothing new. I feel like my perception of the threat of Islamist extremist terrorism and the relevance of what's happening in Iraq to the larger war we're fighting against the people who attacked us is so different from most Democrats, that's its - uh - I don't get it."

There was no mistaking the impact of that large letter "D" beside Lieberman's name. The obvious message to FOX viewers couldn't have been clearer. Joe Lieberman, Democrat, was speaking out against his own party. Not once did Lieberman mention that he is not a Democrat but an Independent (although later he did use the word "independent," it was clear that he meant the lower-case not the upper-case version of the word).

FOX viewers were not clued in. Many of them would not know that Lieberman left the Democratic party to run as an Independent after his humiliating loss to antiwar challenger Ned Lamont in the 2006 Democratic primary. Therefore the entire implication of the segment would be false, i.e., a way of conning viewers into thinking that prominent Democrats might endorse a Republican candidate.

HANNITY: "You just came off a pretty tough election yourself here. As you watch these debates, as you listen to these candidates, as I listen to you here, I hear Joe Lieberman more in line with the Republican party on the defining issue of our time. And that raises the question, you know, and this is not in disagreement. All the Democratic candidates want out of Iraq. Could you see yourself supporting any of the major Republican candidates?"

LIEBERMAN: "I definitely could, Sean."

[CONNECTICUT SENATOR JOE LIEBERMAN (D) appeared for the second time]

LIEBERMAN: "I mean I gotta tell ya' just to be - talk straight to you and those who are listening, so far in all the debates and public statements, it's certainly the Republican - the leading Republican candidates for the Presidential nomination that are - that I'm much more consistent with on the defining issue of our time. You said it and I agree with it, which is the threat of Islamist extremism terrorism. Much more in line with them that the leading Democratic candidates and it is why I have made up my own mind that I'm not getting involved in this Presidential contest until after the two parties have their presumptive nominees and then I'm gonna support whichever candidate I believe will best serve America, regardless of party, and obviously that could include the presumptive Republican nominee."

There were a couple of interesting subtexts to this comment. On the surface, it sounded like a renegade Democrat "talking straight" to "those who are listening," i.e. presumably pro-war Democrats. On a deeper level. Lieberman was sending a subtle but definite message to the Democratic leadership. Make sure your candidate is pro-war or I just might switch parties and hand the Senate back to the Republicans!

Interestingly, McClatchy News Service ran an article about Lieberman's trip to Iraq in late May, indicating that, contrary to what he said publicly about the "progress" being made in Iraq, he was confronted by soldiers who wanted to know one thing and one thing only - when they were going home.

From the McClatchy article:

Spc. David Williams, 22, of Boston, Mass., had two note cards in his pocket Wednesday afternoon as he waited for Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Williams serves in the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., the first of the five "surge" brigades to arrive in Iraq, and he was chosen to join the Independent from Connecticut for lunch at a U.S. field base in Baghdad.

The night before, 30 other soldiers crowded around him with questions for the senator.

He wrote them all down. At the top of his note card was the question he got from nearly every one of his fellow soldiers:

"When are we going to get out of here?"

The rest was a laundry list. When would they have upgraded Humvees that could withstand the armor-penetrating weapons that U.S. officials claim are from Iran? When could they have body armor that was better in hot weather?

Williams missed six months of his girlfriend's pregnancy when he was given six days' notice to return to Iraq for his second tour. He also missed his baby boy's birth. Three weeks ago, he went home and saw his first child.

"He looks just like me," he said. "I didn't want to come back. . . . We're waiting to get blown up."

Comment: On Sunday's edition of Face the Nation, Lieberman made the claim that there is "incontrovertible" proof that Iran is supplying arms to the Iraqi insurgents. He went on to say that he's in favor of attacking Iran in an air strike. (Crooks & Liars has the video.)

During the Hannity interview Senator Lieberman told a slight fib - oh, well, maybe it was just a sin of omission. He waxed enthusiastic over the fact that two prominent Republicans have "gone against' their party, citing John McCain's stance in favor of the immigration bill and Rudy Giuliani's pro-abortion position. Curiously, Lieberman forgot to mention the one Republican who's been causing a stir in the GOP rank and file, that being Ron Paul of Texas, who has courageously broken with the party and publicly stated that the U. S. should get out of Iraq now. Seems Sen. Lieberman's memory was a bit selective.

The banner CONNECTICUT SENATOR JOE LIEBERMAN (D) appeared twice more during on screen before the conclusion of the interview.

As I was (unsuccessfully) trying to find out which countries Lieberman visited besides Iraq and Israel, I stumbled across a very interesting post, dated April 24, 2007, on Wizbang, a conservative blog. It was entitled "What would it take for Joe Lieberman to fire Harry Reid?". It appears that there is a petition campaign in the works designed to move Lieberman into the Republican camp.

One wonders if the voters of Connecticut would have any recourse, should good ol' Joe be seduced to the dark side by a Republican offer he couldn't refuse?

In an interesting counterpoint, retired Secretary of State Colin Powell made some cryptic comments to Tim Russert yesterday during a Meet the Press interview, indicating that he might endorse a Democrat for President.