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FOX' Special Report's Revisionist History

Reported by Chrish - April 8, 2008 -

Guest blogged by Priscilla

Last night’s (April 7th) Special Report was a great example of how if FOX doesn’t like reality, it just changes it to “fit the facts” around the White House talking points. The ongoing administration meme is that the “surge” is working and Iraq is becoming a stable democracy. (Comment: Oh, wait a minute, there’s still fighting going on, the US has taken nine casualties since the Basra "dust-up" and Al Sadr is threatening to end the cease fire; but who cares about that when the White House says it’s all good.)

Special Report was also an example of the incestuous connection between FOX and the Weekly Standard – a rightwing magazine which is owned by Fox’s parent company controlled by Rupert Murdoch. Fox commentators Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes both are employed by the Weekly Standard. Last night’s report demonstrated that Fox News and the Weekly Standard do some “cross pollination” in that much of a “report” was taken almost word for word from a Weekly Standard article from April 4th.

FOX (as the administration’s mouth piece) can’t seem to accept that Muqtada Al Sadr prevailed at Basra. FOX’s Tony Snow, in hosting Bill O’Reilly’s radio show, said that “the bad guys backed down.” Security specialist Tony Cordesman begs to differ when he cautioned that nobody “should romanticize” Al Maliki. But, in an effort to create a new reality, FOX had Jennifer Griffin report on the “myths” of the MSM coverage of the Basra operation – myths that were sourced from The Weekly Standard.

Hume, in trying to show that the commentators who “said that Al Sadr came out ahead” were wrong, also interviewed Lt. Col. Ralph Peters. (Comment: Peters is a war hawk whose articles appear in rightwing publications). Peters claimed that those commentators “got it 180 degrees wrong.” To Hume’s comments about “many pundits proclaiming that Al Sadr was the winner,” Peters said that there was “no sign that Al Sadr won.” Meanwhile, the reality based press says that “Moqtada al-Sadr, the target of the assault, comes out of the crisis strengthened. His militiamen gave no ground and, by declaring a ceasefire that has successfully held since Sunday, Sadr has demonstrated his authority and the discipline of his men. Their tactics are often brutal and some of his commanders little more than thugs or warlords, but they obey their political boss.”

Griffin painted a rosy picture. Despite the desertion of 1,000 Iraqi fighters, she noted that 14,000 stayed. She failed to note that “Al Maliki hastily began funneling some 10,000 recruits from local Shiite tribes into his armed forces. That move has already generated anger among Sunni tribesmen whom Mr. Maliki has been much less eager to recruit despite their cooperation with the government in its fight against Sunni insurgents and criminal gangs.”

She proceeded with a litany of “myths” about Basra including one that Al Maliki backed down when it was really Al Sadr. Time Magazine has a different take on what FOX claims is Al Maliki’s upper hand: . “After a few days of intense fighting he extended his previously announced deadline for surrender and offered militants cash in exchange for their weapons. Yet in the cease-fire announcement the militia explicitly reserved the right to hold onto its weapons. And the very fact of the cease-fire flies in the face of Maliki's proclamation that there would be no negotiations. It is Maliki, and not Sadr, who now appears militarily weak and unable to control elements of his own political coalition…”

Griffin claimed that there were “never any confirmed reports that Al Maliki sent anyone to Iran.” I guess FOX doesn’t consider Iraqi lawmaker and Dawa party member Haidar Al Abadi credible when he said that “Iraqi Shiite lawmakers traveled Friday to Iran to meet with al-Sadr. They returned Sunday, the day al-Sadr told his Mehdi Army fighters to stand down.”

Not surpisingly, both Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes agreed with Hume during the panel discussion that the latest fighting is a sign of Al Maliki’s strength and Iraq’s rapid progression towards a democracy.

Comment: If FOX were really “fair and balanced,” they could have interviewed those pundits who presented the less than rosy scenario. But no, the unilateral message is that the US is prevailing, the Iraqis are “standing up,” and after five years of casualties and billions of dollars, it’s all good. The words of the great U2 song come to mind when one watches FOX News – “where fact is fiction and TV reality. Sunday, bloody Sunday…”