Thursday, January 11, 2007 | Contact: Colleen O'Boyle (703) 683-5004
Before Iraq Plan Unveiled, Reporters Said It Was Unpopular, Wouldn't Work & War Was "Lost Cause"
TV's Pre-Emptive War
Against Iraq "Surge"
By the time President Bush delivered his Iraq speech
Wednesday night, the news media had spent several days engaged in
what the military calls "preparing the battlefield." The media's air
war against the plan to try to actually win the Iraq war assured
that most of Bush's audience would have already heard journalists
claiming the new mission is wrong-headed and doomed to failure.
"Like a folly." Last Tuesday on NBC's Today, anchor
emeritus Tom Brokaw argued that the way Saddam Hussein was executed
revealed Iraq as "a deeply divided country along tribal lines," and
that sending more troops would "seem to most people...like a folly."
Brokaw added: "I think a lot of people who are raising their hands
to join the armed services are wondering, 'I'm giving my life for
■ "Wrong Way Corrigan." The next morning on Today,
political analyst Chris Matthews declared the President's plan dead
on arrival: "I expect it will be treated the way Richard Nixon's
invasion of Cambodia was reacted to. The American people aren't
gonna like it." Matthews insisted that the voters wanted to end, not
mend, Bush's Iraq policies and "for the President to go Wrong Way
Corrigan on this thing and to increase the number of troops, take us
deeper into Iraq, would be to reject the opinion of the American
■ "Absolutely no difference." This week, as more details
of the President's plan were revealed, the anti-surge drum-beat got
louder. On CBS's Early Show, co-host Harry Smith asked
Baghdad reporter Lara Logan if extra troops would make a difference.
"The best thing we have is to look at what has happened already.
When the U.S. brought in 12,000 more troops into Baghdad last
summer, it made absolutely no difference," Logan replied. "In fact,
security here in Baghdad got even worse."
"Lost Cause?" On Tuesday's Today, NBC's White House
reporter David Gregory suggested even White House insiders have lost
faith. "As the President prepares to start a new phase of the war in
Iraq, the White House is fending off charges that key figures in the
administration have concluded the war is lost." NBC's graphic
headline read "Lost Cause? Can U.S. Win the War In Iraq?" Gregory
also cited unnamed "critics" to suggest Bush's motives were
psychological: "U.S. commanders who opposed adding troops to Iraq
have been replaced, prompting critics to charge the President's
resolve has become stubbornness."
Roll call of critics. On Wednesday's Good Morning America,
Diane Sawyer confronted White House aide Dan Bartlett: "I just want
to run through a partial roll call of the number of people who have
either opposed what the President is going to do, or expressed
serious reservations." As she read off names such as Colin Powell
and Chuck Hagel, their names and faces scrolled over her right
shoulder. "I could go on and on," Sawyer told Bartlett. "What don't
they get? What don't they understand?" Bartlett objected, saying
some of the generals she listed as critics "helped devise this
■ "Breaking Point." On yesterday's Today, co-host
Meredith Vieira doubted that the U.S. military could meet the
challenge: "The cornerstone of his plan is sending around 20,000
additional U.S. troops into the war zone. But is the military
stretched to the breaking point already?" Reporter Jim Miklaszewski
suggested it was: "The pace of two wars has left two-thirds of the
Army's combat brigades rated 'Not Ready to Fight.'"
"The cost has been enormous." Uniquely last night, CBS's Katie
Couric decided to introduce Bush's speech by repeating the war's
terrible toll: "Four years into the war, the cost has been enormous.
More than 3,000 American military killed, more than 22,000 wounded.
The dollar cost, close to $400 billion." Emphasizing her point, CBS
posted each demoralizing statistic as a full-screen graphic.
The new plan may succeed, or it may fail. But the
media's mantra these past few days has been that failure seems
inevitable, so we shouldn't even try. -
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