Before Iraq Plan Unveiled, Reporters Said It Was Unpopular, Wouldn�t Work & War Was �Lost Cause�
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
# "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
# "Absolutely no difference." This week, as more details of the
President's plan were revealed, the anti-surge drumbeat 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
# "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 plan."
# "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.