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FOX News’ Happy Iraq Propaganda: Iraq Is Great. It’s The Democrats And The Media That Are The Problems

Reported by Ellen - November 9, 2007 -

Last night’s (11/8/07) conservative hissy fit on Hannity & Colmes was over David Obey’s comments that if violence is decreasing in Iraq, it may be because insurgents “are running out of people to kill.” As The Hill noted, Obey was challenging Republican claims that Bush’s “surge” strategy has worked and was stressing that military success has not brought about political reconciliation. But, rather than have a real debate about the effectiveness of the surge, armchair generals Rich Lowry and Bill Bennett merely declared Bush’s strategy a winner then attacked those who disagree. With video.

The fact that the only guest "fair and balanced" FOX News chose for the segment was a Republican further indicates that FOX News was deliberately avoiding presenting Obey's perspective to their viewers.

Unfortunately, Alan Colmes was off his game during the segment. After playing the obligatory clip of Obey (followed by another clip of what Colmes described as a previous “memorable Obey outburst”), Colmes said he’d been “unnecessarily” tough on “you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down” Bennett in the past. Actually, I think it’s the other way around. While Colmes properly challenged Bennett’s connection between race and crime (which Bennett failed to acknowledge was offensive), Bennett obnoxiously denigrated Colmes.

Colmes seemed to be arguing that everyone misspeaks and Obey was no exception. But that’s really not the point. The point is, this was another blatant attempt by FOX News conservatives to make a federal case over something inconsequential (Obey’s phrasing of his view of the situation in Iraq) while mostly avoiding the larger issue (the actual situation in Iraq or even Obey’s actual view of that situation).

While Colmes was making nice to Bennett, Lowry (subbing for Sean Hannity) didn’t let an opportunity to attack go by. “So now you can be unnecessarily tough on Alan,” Lowry quipped to Bennett.

To his credit, Bennett didn’t dwell on attacking Obey, apparently because the two have a good relationship. “Let’s not obscure the facts, which is that the surge is having a profoundly positive effect,” Bennett claimed.

In reality, there are plenty of unobscured facts to cast serious doubt on Bennett’s assertion. For example, 2007 is the deadliest year for U.S. troops in Iraq; civilian deaths increased in October; and, as Think Progress reported, a Government Accountability Office spokesperson recently told Congress that the recent reduction in violence ought to be taken with a grain of salt because the data doesn’t take into account that there are ethnically cleansed neighborhoods. Furthermore, as the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, said at the same hearing, the reduction in violence has not been accompanied by “tangible political reconciliation.”

Colmes offered only a tentative argument to Bennett’s dubious contention. Colmes asked why, if the surge is working, there hasn’t been a political reconciliation, since that was the point of the surge. He added, “If the political component’s not there, can you really say it’s working?”

“From the top down angle, you’re right. There hasn’t been as much as we’d like,” Bennett acknowledged. But he added, “From the bottom up, there has been. As you know, at the local level, there has been a lot of political reconciliation. There are a lot of places where people are free to walk and trade and shop and play where they weren’t before.”

Let’s hope that Colmes was about to raise the possibility that ethnic cleansing may have caused that "freedom" and that that was the point of Obey’s remark, ill-chosen as it allegedly was. But just then it was Rich Lowry’s turn.

Lowry was not interested in discussing Iraq. Maybe he was afraid someone might notice he’s eligible to take an active part in the war he purports to support. Instead, Lowry and his fellow chickenhawk Bennett attacked their countrymen, all the while holding themselves up as patriots.

“Real simple question,” Lowry said. “Why can’t Democrats just say three or four easy words: The surge is working?”

“I don’t know,” Bennett said, putting on a show of thoughtfulness. “They should be able to root for our side. They should be able to root for the soldiers and say our soldiers have succeeded. But there’s some block in the brain or something and I think it’s a real self limitation. You’re in a very bad place politically when your political situation is improved by U.S. military not doing well. It’s not where you want to be.”

Lowry claimed he didn’t want to “hang” Obey on the basis of one comment. “But this is why I’m pretty outraged by it.” Then Lowry bragged about his first-hand knowledge of Iraq. “If you go to Iraq -- I was there three or four weeks ago -- they’ll explain to you very specifically why the violence has gone down. It’s because our guys have gone into these neighborhoods at great risk to their lives and their limbs and rousted out the bad guys. So if you have Democratic Congressman who aren’t willing to credit their work but instead come up with these bogus explanations that somehow everyone’s killed, that’s pretty disgusting to me.”

Next Lowry went after the media. He said, “Who wrote the rules for the media that good news about a war never shows up on the front page? It’s amazing how much less coverage there is now that it’s going better.”

“Of course, FOX does it often,” Bennett claimed.

Not on Hannity & Colmes they don’t. They’d much rather discuss Hillary’s latest hiccup than almost anything about Iraq. As a matter of fact, even this discussion was more about Democrats than Iraq.