disturbs me because I think a lot of nasty stuff went on behind the
scenes [during Hussein's rule] that people don't know about and they
Bill O'Reilly, Dec. 16, 2003
While the capture of Saddam Hussein has
so far meant little in terms of stemming the violence in Iraq, it
has certainly emboldened the Fox News Channel (FNC) to curiously trumpet
the capture as ex post validation of the coalition's invasion.
Since Sunday December 14, FNC has been almost one continuous Saddamathon
with the now-famous footage of the latex-gloved frisker searching
Saddam triumphantly showing on the channel almost every hour on the
hour. The following is a chronicle of recent war and other lies
and spin from Fox. As with my earlier report in
June, my comments are in s.
The Saddamathon begins. A David Lee Miller report runs
several times throughout the day purporting to be a history of Saddam's
rise and rule over Iraq. It's as if Hussein came out of nowhere
to brutalize Iraqis. [The effective lies by omission make the
"report" surreal. On the "Fair and Balanced"
Fox, Miller inexplicably forgets to mention the extensive U.S. involvement
in effectively creating and sustaining the Hussein monster:
no mention of the U.S.-aided assassination of Abdul Karem Kassim and
rise of the Baathists in March 1963 (also the U.S.-aided putsch of
'68 a great help to Saddam), no mention of Reagan-administration
support for Hussein (including ingredients for biological
and chemical weapons)
during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, no mention of former Hussein buddy
Don Rumsfeld's December 19, 1983
(see video at link) and March 24, 1984 visits to Baghdad (the latter
visit being on the very same day as press reports that a U.N. team
found that Iraqi forces had used mustard gas laced with a nerve agent
on Iranian soldiers).
are constant references on Fox to Hussein "gassing his own people"
but no mention of Stephen Pelletiere's gutting
of that tale. Also no mention of Assistant Secretary of State
John Kelly and U.S. ambassador April
Glaspie effectively giving Saddam the green light (as Saddam apparently
saw it) for his August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. No mention of
of more than 100,000 Shiites that occurred when the U.S. encouraged
their rebellion and then failed to support it. No mention of
the estimated half million deaths from U.S.-supported sanctions.
All these topics are of course verboten on "Fair and Balanced"
O'Reilly Factor (7:00 p.m. CT). O'Reilly's first guest is
Marc Ginsburg, presented not only on O'Reilly's show but numerous
times on Fox's Special Report with Brit Hume as an objective
Middle-East analyst. [Ginsburg like the "impartial"
Dennis Ross, Frank Gaffney, and Cliff May is of course a neocon shill
every bit as much as Fox contributors Kristol, Barnes, and Krauthammer.
Sometimes Special Report's All-Star panel is a stomach-retching
neocon sandwich: Krauthammer, Barnes, and Kristol bread with
quasi-neocon Kondracke or Sammon baloney filler laughably included
is O'Reilly's in-your-face trumpeting of a weekend
report by the appropriately named Con Coughlin of the London Telegraph
supposedly uncovering a direct link between Saddam and Osama bin Laden.
The report centers around a "top-secret memo" found by the
U.S.-appointed government of Iraq asserting that Mohammed Atta was
trained in Baghdad by Abu Nidal in the summer of 2001 just before
the September 11 attacks.
for the Bush administration is that the memo was allegedly written
by the former head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam, however the memo
suggests that there really was a shipment of uranium from Niger to
Iraq after all. Further, the Niger shipment would never have
been accomplished without a "secret meeting" between Saddam
and (how convenient!!) current neocon bogeyman Syrian president Bashar
al-Assad. (You can almost hear Perle cursing in the background
about the "stupid ragheads" on Washington's payroll who
manufactured the memo but forgot that the White House conceded
there was no shipment!)
12/17/03: Newsweek's Isikoff and Hosenball have
labeled the memo
a probable fake, and report that the memo is "contradicted by
a wealth of information that has been collected about Atta's movements."
Despite this news, Bill O'Reilly tonight once again refers to the
Coughlin report on his show.]
[Update 12/18/03: California Republican Congressman
David Drier on Hannity and Colmes twice cites the Telegraph
article based on the fraudulent memo as evidence for a Saddam-al Qaeda
link. Hannity also briefly adduced the fraud toward the beginning
of his show.]
[Recall Con artist Coughlin's visit to Fox in late April to trumpet
the Telegraph's Inigo
Gilmore report claiming to find "the first proof of direct
links" between Saddam and bin Laden. We were to believe
that Gilmore just "sweet talked" his way past the 3rd Infantry
into the Mukbaharat to somehow find documents sitting out in the open
that the CIA just happened to miss. Because it followed so closely
on the heels of other false reports, few gave any credence to the
article. Interesting also for Con Man has been his recent
work attempting to bolster Tony "Bliar's" notorious
and laughable 45-minute claim.
regard to the neocon obsession with finding a link between Saddam
and 9-11/al Qaeda, recall also Fox's role in mid-November of playing
up Stephen Hayes' article
in the Weekly Standard "Case Closed," which supposedly
provided proof of not just a link but a long-standing "operational
relationship" between Saddam and bin Laden. The article
wasn't much more than a collection of assertions from raw intelligence
data. Fox presented the article's contents as fact all day on
November 15, the same day as a DOD statement
which labeled such reporting "inaccurate." Fox still
presented the article's assertions as fact for another two days!]
Fox and Friends. Fox Business analyst Neil Cavuto predicts
a market rally from the Saddam capture. [The know-nothing Cavuto,
who sometimes seems like he can't tell preferred stock from
livestock, is wrong as securities markets from NYSE (down 0.39%) to
AMEX (down 0.59%) to NASDAQ (down 1.58%) all close down for the day.
Even the Wilshire 5000 is down 0.76%. Yeah, I'd say the markets
were impressed with the capture, Neil.]
Joe Lieberman Day at Fox, as footage of his comment that if Howard
Dean had his way, Saddam would still be in power is running almost
as much as the footage (running practically every ten minutes) of
the latex-gloved guy searching Saddam's hair and mouth for insurgent
cooties. [Fox really has their sites set on Dean. The
constant playing and replaying of the latex-gloved guy frisking the
mangy Saddam becomes so annoying I have to turn off Fox for the day.
Judging by reports about Fox e-mail, even many of the network's fans
Your World with Neil Cavuto. Midway through
the show (3:31 p.m. CT) Cavuto refers to the day's stock-market performance
as the Saddam Rally. [I guess the Saddam Rally could have come
next February if the market's next rise hadn't been until then.]
(3:49 p.m. CT) gives the frothing pro-war president of the Catholic
League, William Donohue, a platform to bash Cardinal Renato Martino. Donohue says Martino only represents "the total
fringe" in the Catholic church. He claims that Catholics
the world over were in favor of the war. [Anti-war Catholics?!
Why there's almost no such thing!]
Report with Brit Hume (5:00 p.m. CT). A report by Bret Baier
on how the capture of Saddam with documents has yielded all sorts
of supposed benefits in terms of fighting the insurgency network. [Fox
journalists appear bent on showing immediate benefits, no matter how
vague or assertive, of Saddam's capture.] Reporter Mike Emanuel
repeats the tired lie that the U.S. killed 54 guerrillas in Samarra.
[Nine dead civilians is apparently the real story.] Footage
is aired of Don Rumsfeld claiming that Saddam's spider hole could
hold WMD that could kill scores of people. [Maybe true, but
the misleading implication Rumsfeld and (at times) Fox are trying
to advance is that the WMD jackpot, like Saddam, can be found with
O'Reilly Factor (7:00 p.m. CT). [This was the most unbelievable
episode I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot.] In
his opening monologue O'Reilly rips into Cardinal Martino, but (unlike
Hannity later in the night) charitably quotes him: "I felt
pity to see this man destroyed. The military looking at his
teeth, as if he were a beast. They could have spared us these
pictures. Seeing him like this, a man in his tragedy, despite
all the heavy blame he bears, I had a sense of compassion
[Hannity removed the words in bold italics.]
O'REILLY [Talking Points Memo]: The problem with the Vatican
and the UN and others who have no solution to fascism, terror, atrocities,
and mass murder is that they live in a dream world and they are afforded
that luxury by America, Britain, and other free nations who stood
up to the Nazis, communists, Japanese imperialists, and now the terrorists.
Cardinal Martino and Kofi Annan may be well intentioned but they are
not looking out for us. And we are the only thing standing between
them and a bullet to the head.
[The Vatican has no solution, lives in a dream world, and would get
a bullet to the head without the U.S.A.? O'Reilly next debates
Father Ryscavage, a Jesuit priest over the appropriateness of the
humiliating footage of Hussein.]
O'REILLY: Father, I don't get it here. I think that God
actually orchestrated this [the capture of Hussein], this is how religious
I am...you would censor that image?
RYSCAVAGE: I would censor the image of him being humiliated
O'REILLY: I would have no problem brutalizing this man to protect
others, to find out what he knows. I would not believe that
would be sinful, Father.
RYSCAVAGE: The Church provides a moral framework for decisions,
it doesn't tell you what you have to decide.
O'REILLY: Martino has been rabidly anti-American in this whole
campaign, in the beginning the Pontiff and this cardinal declared
the war immoral. I thought that declaration was immoral because
of all the people who have been killed by Saddam.
[Update 12/23: Recent reports
have the Kurds
orchestrating the capture of Hussein. Fox has yet to mention
these even to deny them.]
[Next came one of the most shocking exchanges, marking a new level
of overt depravity even for Fox.]
O'REILLY: Let me ask you about Jesus in the temple, driving
the money changers out with a whip. Was he affording those people
RYSCAVAGE: He was protecting the dignity of the temple, the
people who prayed in it and the merchants who worked in it.
O'REILLY: That's exactly what President Bush and the
U.S.A. was [sic] doing when they went in to remove Saddam. They
were protecting the dignity of the Iraqi people and they were protecting
the dignity of the world so we wouldn't have to deal with a guy who
clearly was out to hurt people...So we were doing exactly what Jesus
did in the temple, weren't we?
FATHER RYSCAVAGE: No, I don't think so.
[There you have it! George W. Bush and the U.S.A. "exactly"
as Jesus in the temple. This from the No Spin Zone.]
and Colmes (8:00 p.m. CT). Torture Saddam Day on H&C,
with Bill Bennett and Sean Hannity enthusiastic interlocutors on the
BENNETT: ...if it's the only means necessary to get information
out of him which will save other people...then yes I would do it...I
would not be reluctant to use fairly strong pressure.
COLMES: What do you mean?
BENNETT: The standard things people do. Sodium pentathol,
needles under the finger nails...I would do it publicly, admit I was
doing it, and say why I was doing it.
Hannity quotes Cardinal Martino, careful to doctor the quote (especially
on screen) to remove Martino's statement about Hussein bearing blame
for his predicament:
HANNITY [verbatim as if quoting Martino]: "I feel pity
at seeing this destroyed man treated like a cow, having his teeth
checked. I have seen this man in his tragedy. I have a
sense of compassion." That's fine but where has he [Martino]
been for the compassion [sic] of all the people that have been murdered
all these years? I find this embarrassing as a Catholic.
BENNETT: ...the Vatican has missed some things in the last couple
years, they've missed the moral significance of some things going
on in their own church and they've missed the moral significance of
[Of course there's no moral significance in a soi disant virtue
czar gambling away half a million dollars at the Bellagio
in one weekend while there are children starving in Iraq. Oh,
that's right, Bennett quit his lavish gambling for some reason.]
Fox and Friends (5:00 a.m. CT). More denouncing of the
Pope for being anti-war. Host Brian Kilmeade celebrates the
U.S.-appointed Iraq foreign minister's condemnation of the UN for
hindering the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. [As if there's
any significance to what a U.S. puppet minister thinks.] Then
(7:10 CT) Kilmeade tells the Fox audience that what's so neat about
Hussein being handed over to the CIA is that although they can't torture
him, they can deprive him of sleep, food, and light as well as blast
him with unpleasant music. [Kilmeade is a hilarious and psittacine
disaster who shows what happens when a sports reporter crosses over
to serious news analysis.]
Steve Doocy proudly shows the audience photos of his family socially
cavorting with Don Rumsfeld and White House staff member Bradley Blakeman.
[Now try to imagine how conservatives, Republicans, and latex-gloved
friskers would have greeted say, CNN, for having a morning show with
hosts that cheered the Clintons, openly showed themselves socially
cavorting with their staff, while CNN claimed to be "Fair and
Factor (7:00 p.m. CT). O'Reilly's opening monologue is entitled
Death of Shame in America." He cites "dishonest
news analysis" as a symptom of the death of shame. [No
irony there! His first guest is this odd ex-CIA guy who keeps
referring to Hussein over and over as "the hard drive:"
"We will not take a sledge hammer to the hard drive."]
O'REILLY: What about sodium pentathol, mind altering drugs,
chemicals, things like that?
SIMMONS: Fair game, absolutely fair game.
[There are U.S. officials especially ex-CIA types like the guest who
have almost, if not as much, information as Hussein has, since he
was their on-again, off-again employee. Will they be tortured
O'Reilly tells Jessica Stern from Harvard's Kennedy School that Syria
and Iran should be nervous if they've hidden Saddam's WMD. [Fox
bashes Madeleine Albright for her nutty conspiracy theory that Bush
has bin Laden hidden away, yet they employ a grown man who thinks
it plausible that Syria or Iran has Saddam's non-existent WMD.]
(7:38 p.m. CT) is enraged that Drudge exposed his Today show lie that his
new book is rivaling Hillary Clinton's in sales. [O'Reilly's
book sales aren't even half of Clinton's and are quite a bit below
those of his arch-enemy Al Franken. By the way, Matt, O'Reilly repeated
the same lie on his own show on Monday.] O'Reilly states that
"you can't believe a thing Matt Drudge says" yet doesn't
correct Drudge and calls Internet journalism "a threat to democracy."
[Recall O'Reilly suggesting on June 16 of this year that the Internet
should be federally regulated to prevent falsehoods from being told!
Apparently the big government-media establishment is the only entity
that should be able to lie with impunity. O'Reilly's two guests,
Liz Trotta and Quentin Hardy of Forbes, start fighting over
whether Internet free speech should be shut down because, God forbid,
it's allowing citizen journalists to have their say and that, according
to Trotta, has made the Internet "a garbage dump."]
HARDY: Are you telling me you want to shut down the Internet
and keep people from finding out information?
TROTTA: No, I want to keep it responsible and safe for democracy
instead of a garbage can for people's ridiculous fantasies.
O'REILLY: Shouldn't there be some standards of behavior, some
kind of standard?
HARDY: I believe the viewers can judge for themselves.
O'REILLY: Do you?
(8:40 p.m. CT). When Hannity brings up the subject of 270 mass
graves under Hussein, actor Mike Farrell fights constant interruptions
from Hannity to point out that the mass graves were mainly filled
in during the Reagan and Bush I administrations. [Hannity's
brilliant rebuttal: "Oh, it's Reagan's fault!"]
enough of Fox. The last four days have been quite a re-education
for me. Here's what I learned: that the history of Hussein's
rule of Iraq is relevant, but only selectively. The dirty business
that France, Russia, and Germany did with Hussein is an endless outrage
but when it comes to the U.S., no discussion is allowed with offenders
interrupted, shouted down, and called names. I learned that
the Internet needs federal regulation ("standards") because
the bad, bad people who write on it spin, distort, and propagandize.
"We Report, You Decide" is appropriate for Fox, but for
some reason I missed, not for the Internet.
I also learned that it's a respectable view (with no evidence provided)
that Saddam's WMD could be hidden in Iran or Syria and that it couldn't
possibly be a coincidence that those are the two nations that our
beloved neocons want to invade next. Most important of all,
I learned that George W. Bush and the U.S.A. are now Jesus, roaming
the world with a whip to root out sin and iniquity. Poor Jesus.
I guess He should feel so lucky to be compared to George W. Bush.
Dale Steinreich is a contributor to AgainstTheCrowd.com
and an adjunct scholar of the Mises