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FOX not-so-Friendly to Ahmadinejad or Columbia University

Reported by Chrish - September 24, 2007 -

FOX and Friends spent the majority of their time this morning whipping up indignation at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's appearance at Columbia University this afternoon (going on right now, actually) and at one point seemed to be inciting viewers to head downtown to swell the numbers to a "projected" 10,000. Host Steve Doocy announced that

"'They' are calling for protests, as many people as possible to jam streets, especially at 16th and Broadway at 1:00."

The Friends were angry and indignant and outraged at this supposed "honor" and disparaged Columbia School of International and Public Affairs' Dean John Coatsworth for comments indicating that (given the hypothetical) Columbia would have allowed Hitler to appear at a similar forum. Two students at Columbia were briefly interviewed, one who held the Friends' view that this appearance is a prestigious honor that gives legitimacy to Ahmadinejad, and the other who said that we should allow him to speak to demonstrate the tenets of democracy and free speech, and to allow students to challenge him. But will we get straight answers? asked host Alisyn Camerota. The student doubted it, based on his interview on "60 Minutes."

When Camerota asked why "Columbia's policy" denied this same privilege to Minuteman leader Jim Gilchrist, whose schedule appearance was just cancelled "because they thought his comments about immigration would be too inflammatory", the young woman (who identified herself as the Executive Director of the College Republicans, deeply involved in this issue) contradicted Camerota and said it is not the University but rather a professor who has been trying to garner student support for him; it is not Columbia's policy that scotched the appearance.

Later in the program the Friends were on the street interviewing a Marine who acted as spokesman for a platoon that does silent drills, performing on the street (and travelling across the nation with their performance.) Steve Doocy asked a throw-away question - "The President of Iran is just about 4 blocks over that way (pointing)... you want to juxt march over and give him a little wake-up call?" to which the spokesman diplomatically replied "The wonderful part about this city is we welcome everybody." Brian Kilmeade answered "We don't."

Other segments devoted to the visit included a "debate" between Rich Lowry of NRO and radio host Thom Hartmann. Hartmann was cut off as he was saying that in the US, people are not afraid of foreign ideas and Reagan reached... Later he completed the point, that Reagan and Nixon both reached out to Russia and China, respectively. Much of what he was saying was overtalked by Rich Lowry, graduate of the Sean Hannity School of Inane Badgering, but Hartmann persisted and also made the point that Saudi Arabia is also accused of arming Iraqis who in turn use those weapons against American soldiers. Lowry acknowledged "that's a big problem too" but continued with right-wing talking pioints and overtalking hartmann's further points about Ahmadinejad.

There were several other segments about the visit: "Thugs" author Micah Halpern was against it, protesters against the appearance were repeatedly shown, with signs telling Ahmadinejad to "go to hell," and the Friends were clearly against the appearance, going so far (as noted above) as to give time and location of a hoped-for protest to their viewers.

Other news covered this morning repeatedly were the NYTimes editorial that said there was an error in billing for the MoveOn ad and a Boy Scout troops late returning from a mountain hike.

This program is blatant in their right-wing point-making, setting the stage for the day's talking points to be repeated by Smith, Cavuto, Gibson, O'Reilly and Hannity. Tomorrow we can expect them to cherry-pick his statements today, looking for tidbits to support their push for war, and dismissing the conciliatory outreach as disengenuous lies. Peace offerings will fall on deaf ears.

This entire episode also plays into FOX/s agenda to demonize institutions of higher learning who encourage students to hear all sides, all perspectives, and to think for themselves. Ahmadinejad, who is coming across as conciliatory, peaceful, warm, rational, will be more difficult to vilify as a madman after this appearance.

(OK, Donna will probably cover this but Shep Smith is interviewing John Bolton and they are both picking it apart already, seconds after the forum ended.)