This statement has really gotten Glenn “the Puppet Master” Greenwald’s goat:
HUME: That sound bite from John Murtha suggests that itâ€™s time a few things be said about him. Even the â€œWashington Postâ€ noted he didnâ€™t seem particularly well informed about whatâ€™s going on over there, to say the least. Look, this man has tremendous cache’ among House Democrats, but he is not â€” this guy is long past the day when he had anything but the foggiest awareness of what the heck is going on in the world.
And that sound bite is naivete writ large, and the man is an absolute fountain of such talk, and the fact that he has ascended to the position he has in the eyes of the Democrats in the House and perhaps Democrats around the country tells you a lot about how much they know or care about whatâ€™s really going on over there.
I put this part in because the talking footwear leaves out the full context of what Hume is saying about Murtha, as is his manipulative tendency. Next is the part that “attacks” the Democratic party, which Greenwald does bother to include. Listen to the sock puppet screech:
And think of the Democrats in the middle of this. They know these facts. They can see them. They know that Iran is up to no good. And what are they worried about? Are they worried about Iran? Not so as you’d notice.
What they’re worried about is that the president might do something to Iran without clearing it with them. Wonderful. I mean, think — I mean, this is why the Democratic Party has had this reputation, going back decades, of really not being very serious about national defense. It’s because they aren’t.
As usual the Puppet Master cannot leave it at the truth. He can’t even just misrepresent, he has to make things up, because as you see, Hume never called him senile, heh, he called him dotty:^)
WILLIAMS: Well, but he’s chairman of the subcommittee of House Appropriations, so he’ll have a lot to say about what Mara was just discussing, which is appropriations…
HUME: And lot of it will be dotty.
The talking sock then goes after Hume on the “facts”:
Hume is not only a partisan advocate, but he is a dishonest one. What Hume said — that the Democratic Party is perceived as “not being very serious about national defense” — is not only nakedly partisan, but also factually false.
Whereupon we get a whole bunch of polling data which shows that at this point the Democrats are favored on defense. Which goes to show that being a cloth with eyes doesn’t mean you can comprehend arguments based on history. He said “decades” my cotton blend friend, and his argument is correct. National defense has been a club the Republicans have taken upside the head of Democrats since the days of McGovern to great effect. Of course we all know that, and so does he. If he wishes to argue that it is undeserved that is a matter of opinion, but we’ll have to get to that. He needs to get out his darning needles though, because this sock’s entire screed has holes in it. Here is the comment that Brit was responding to which the silly piece of footwear seems to think is irrelevant to the discussion. It is pretty key in understanding Brit’s opinion if you ask me:
People tend to say well, if we leave, there’s going to be chaos. I don’t believe that. Seventy- eight percent of the Iraqis say that’s not going to happen. Seventy- eight percent of the Iraqis say it will be — we’re the ones that are causing this, and Al Qaida is going to be — Al Qaida’s going to disappear.
First, Murtha is being dotty if he wants to argue that it is obvious our leaving would decrease the violence. Maybe, but few believe so, certainly not the Iraqis, and for someone who complains we ignored intelligence in getting into this war maybe he should read what our intelligence services have to say about this argument.
Hume mentions the Washington Post, here is what they have to say:
Mr. Murtha’s cynicism is matched by an alarming ignorance about conditions in Iraq. He continues to insist that Iraq “would be more stable with us out of there,” in spite of the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that early withdrawal would produce “massive civilian casualties.” He says he wants to force the administration to “bulldoze” the Abu Ghraib prison, even though it was emptied of prisoners and turned over to the Iraqi government last year. He wants to “get our troops out of the Green Zone” because “they are living in Saddam Hussein’s palace”; could he be unaware that the zone’s primary occupants are the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy?It would be nice to believe that Mr. Murtha does not represent the mainstream of the Democratic Party or the thinking of its leadership. Yet when asked about Mr. Murtha’s remarks Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered her support. Does Ms. Pelosi really believe that the debate she orchestrated this week was not “the real vote”? If the answer is yes, she is maneuvering her party in a way that can only do it harm.
Exactly what should Brit Hume say about Murtha’s ignorance and destructively cynical plan? Is this the courageous leadership against the war the ponderously verbose puppet expects:
Mr. Murtha has a different idea. He would stop the surge by crudely hamstringing the ability of military commanders to deploy troops. In an interview carried Thursday by the Web site MoveCongress.org, Mr. Murtha said he would attach language to a war funding bill that would prohibit the redeployment of units that have been at home for less than a year, stop the extension of tours beyond 12 months, and prohibit units from shipping out if they do not train with all of their equipment. His aim, he made clear, is not to improve readiness but to “stop the surge.” So why not straightforwardly strip the money out of the appropriations bill â€” an action Congress is clearly empowered to take â€” rather than try to micromanage the Army in a way that may be unconstitutional? Because, Mr. Murtha said, it will deflect accusations that he is trying to do what he is trying to do. “What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with,” he said.
Not only is this cynical plan a travesty, and one which will likely lead to the death of some of our troops needlessly (and please do not tell me those who support this plan “support the troops.” There has to be some limit even to those arguments, I think this reaches them) it is a betrayal of what he claims the American people want, to end the war now.
The chief puppet doesn’t seem to notice this rather basic point, if Murtha fears the political consequences of a straightforward vote on defunding the war, then he and Murtha’s whole argument that it is unambiguously what the people really want has to be false. I have argued that point here, the feelings about the war are far more complex than that, and the latest polls and our argument are updated quite well at QandO today.
As for the substance of Hume’s point about the Democratic party, as the Washington Post says, it seems to be true. The Murtha approach seems to be fine with a large portion of the party, and it is a profoundly unserious and cynical ploy. I don’t agree with ending our involvement in Iraq, but obviously it has to end sometime. If you believe this is the time then stand up and vote for that. Don’t undermine the effort, which is what Murtha himself says he will do, and endanger our troops. The sock puppets defense of this man, a man who shouldn’t even be in Congress given his ethical transgressions, is pathetic.
Of course Greenwald thinks he has a deeper point, so let us show him where he needs to patch the next hole:
Brit Hume is held out as a news person, as a journalist — comparable to, say, Brian Williams or Charles Gibson rather than Hannity and Kristol.
Real journalists are not even permitted to publicly voice their political opinions. As but one example, The New York Times recently chastised its reporter, Michael Gordon, merely for going on the Charlie Rose Show and indicating that he supports the “surge.” Yet every week, Hume transgresses that limit by many magnitudes greater than Gordon did, and yet the media and political figures still treat him like an actual news anchor.
While everyone acknowledges that Hume routinely defends Republicans, he is still spoken of in journalistic and political circles as though he is a real journalist — as though there is a meaningful difference between him and Fred Barnes or Tony Snow. There simply isn’t.
This is the point: Hume is continuously treated as though he is a news journalist rather than an opinion journalist, even though he abides by none of the rules of objectivity required of news journalists. Hume, like Fox News itself, is a full-fledged Republican Party advocate, which is fine — except for the fact that Hume is so widely held out and treated as though he is something different (and except for the fact that he spews factually false claims, such as this weekend’s assertion that Democrats are perceived as unserious on national security).
First of all, Hume does not act as an “anchor” when the panel meets. He is a moderator, but also a participant. He is supposed to give his opinions. It is an opinion segment. Greenwald knows that, but as usual the talking sock can’t stand letting the truth stand in the way of making his disagreement be with the mere opinion itself, he has to misrepresent what is happening.
It is even more dishonest in this particular piece. In this panel discussion Brit isn’t even the moderator, he is a panel member. He is being asked for his opinion by the moderator. The Sock Puppet knows that as well, but he, and a huge number of sites, have spread this falsehood far and wide.
An even more important point, who says “real journalists” are not allowed to give their opinion? He mentions the case of Michael Gordon, who as we discussed here and here, was rather unfairly singled out. That however is the New York Times. Other journalists and anchors, including ones that the Unraveling Sock himself likes to use as grist for his mill, give their opinions on a regular basis. They do this all the time, but the most famous anchor of them all, Walter Cronkite, did it and Michael has the video here. Dan Rather did it on a regular basis as well. Do they not make their opinions known on “60 Minutes.” I say, so what? The real problem of bias isn’t the clearly marked commentary of Cronkite, Rather, Brit Hume or the investigative advocacy of “60 Minutes,” it is the bias hidden within supposedly objective reporting. It is the actual manufacturing of stories and evidence. Rather’s career was ended by his willingness to play with falsified evidence.
Finally, who says that the Sock Puppet’s notion of what makes a reporter or journalist a real one carries any weight? Fox and every other station can mix and match the ways they deliver the news in any way they want. Some of our greatest journalists have had strong opinions and expressed them as opinion and analysis on a regular basis. Investigative journalism has always been strong on opinion, but it is still journalism. There are no rule books and the Sock has a lot of knitting to do to patch all the holes in his argument.
Brit’s opinion was right on, and it should have nothing to do with whether one supports the war or not. Murtha has shown himself to be ignorant and unprincipled. The Democrats, to the extent that they indulge his plan, have shown themselves to be unserious and unprincipled. Hopefully that will turn out to not be as true as I fear, but so far the evidence points the other way. Pointing that out should be the duty of war supporters and war opponents just as the pork barrel politics of Ted Stevens and Robert Byrd deserve condemnation whether one is a Democrat or a Republican. Brit Hume should have done no less than he did.
Brit giving his opinion, which was clearly expressed as opinion and had nothing to do with his duties as an anchor, was entirely appropriate, end of story.
Edited for clarity. Thanks to TS for pointing out the issue with energetic mongoloids posting late;^)
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