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FOX News Smears Harry Reid While Cutting And Running From Iraq War Discussion

Reported by Ellen - June 17, 2007 -

FOX News did its best to drum up hatred for Senator Harry Reid on Friday night’s (6/15/07) Hannity & Colmes. The excuse for attacking Reid was his “disparaging remarks” about Generals Pace and Petraeus and the status of the Iraq war. As everyone argued over Reid, the hosts avoided the substance of his comments: How things are going with the Iraq war. Updated with video.

Rich Lowry, subbing for Sean Hannity, opened the discussion after playing a clip of Reid. “That was Senator Harry Reid back in April making his now INFAMOUS (his emphasis) remarks about the war in Iraq being lost. Reid ratcheted up his anti-war rhetoric last Thursday lambasting former Joint Chiefs General Peter Pace, calling the general, quote, an INCOMPTENT MAN (his emphasis).”

Lowry’s first question handily led the guest (Colonel David Hunt) into denigrating Reid. “Now Colonel, I obviously don’t need to tell you this has been a very difficult war but what do you make of Harry Reid, a guy who runs an institution that has a 23% approval rating, calling Peter Pace incompetent?”

In other words, never mind the war, let’s focus on Reid.

The choice of guests, Colonel David Hunt, pretty much ensured that the only expert opinion the audience heard would unfavorably view Reid's comments about fellow members of the military. The fact that Hunt, the sole guest, is a paid analyst at FOX News further indicates that attacking Reid was the network’s goal.

Hunt made something of an attempt to be even-handed but, like a good military man, he obviously knew his mission and was willing to perform it. He acknowledged that he’s not a fan of Pace but soon added the false statement, “But the problem I’ve got with Reid and with some people, the complaints without any recommendation. There are some Democrats who’ve got some ideas about how to fix Iraq – guys like Biden – but guys like Reid are just mouthing off without any kind of recommendation.”

In fact, Senator Reid offered a five-part plan on the floor of the Senate on April 26, 2007. I found it on Senator Reid’s website. Surely, Hunt could have easily located it, too, with just a bit of trying.

Hunt went on to say, “The judgment’s still out on whether David Petraeus can make this thing work.”

Lowry dodged that issue in order to turn the subject back to smearing Reid, this time saying that he had made this comment in a conference call with bloggers and, according to Lowry, had not wanted to own up to it “for about a day.” Lowry triumphantly concluded, “So, he was not only insulting, he was kind of weasly about it.”

Lowry ought to know about being weasly since that’s just what he was doing by dodging the discussion about how the war is going, and Generals Pace and Petraeus’ commands.

Next, Lowry moved in for the virtual kill (not that he’s likely to do any real fighting, despite the fact that, according to Wikipedia, Lowry is still young enough to join the war effort he’s so quick to endorse for others.) “The problem I have with Reid and some other Democrats, they don’t want to seem to hear any good news about Iraq.”

Talk about throwing people under the bus! But, obviously, the rule on FOX News is, it’s unpatriotic to criticize the Bush administration (or maybe even discuss it at too great length) but you can smear a Democrat to your heart’s content.

Hunt agreed, noting that there are a “lot of successes.” But, to his credit, he also noted that there are a lot of problems. “It’s a mixed bag,” Hunt concluded. “There are some great stories and they’re all about soldiers. Guys like Reid never get that right. And it’s not right.”

In fact, Reid said nothing (that I could find) to indicate he didn’t want to hear any good or encouraging news about Iraq. He said General Petraeus’ upbeat comments "gives you a feeling that he's not in touch with what is really going on in Iraq or just trying to make the president feel good."

Even Alan Colmes stayed away from debating the substance of Reid’s comments. Instead, Colmes quoted other critical comments about the war from conservatives such as Newt Gingrich and John McCain. “Conservatives make these comments, I don’t hear a peep from the same people that get all upset, Colonel, when Harry Reid says, in effect, the very same thing.”

Colmes also corrected the record about a Democratic plan for the war. “You can’t say they didn’t have a plan. Maybe you think it’s wrong but they had a plan.”

“You’re right,” Hunt acknowledged, in what could only be described as a contradiction to what he had previously asserted more than once in the discussion. He also acknowledged that there are some real problems with the war. But, he added, “Even you have gotta admit that Reid is not helpful to your side of the aisle when he does these type of things.”

If the “real journalism, fair and balanced” network finds Reid's comments so important they had to devote a segment of prime time to them, why didn’t they consider proving Reid wrong, rather than just attacking him?

There’s an old adage among trial lawyers: when the law is on your side, you should argue the law. When the law isn’t on your side, you should argue the facts. And when neither is on your side you need to be creative or pound on the desk and create a diversion.

It’s outrageous that FOX News, where Roger Ailes brags, “We like America” should impugn the integrity and distort the record of a distinguished member of the Senate in order to create its diversion. You can contact FOX at comments@foxnews.com or colmes@foxnews.com or hannity@foxnews.com.