Following a recent trend of portraying bad news for President Bush as a blessing in disguise for Republicans and the White House, various news outlets and media figures have uncritically echoed the Bush administration's claim that the recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Hezbollah represents a "leadership opportunity" for Bush.
Wolf Blitzer and CNN national news correspondent Jeanne Moos noted that "pundits, politicians, comics, and radio talk show hosts" have begun to talk of World War III in the wake of the onset of conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. While Moos's segment included clips from programs that satirized the trend of conservatives referring to World War III or World War IV, both Moos and Blitzer stated that the question of whether World War III had begun was "serious."
The three major broadcast networks' morning programs have hosted far more commentary on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict from Republicans and conservatives than from Democrats and progressives. The shows have hosted nine solo interviews of Republicans and conservatives, but only two of progressives.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that The New York Times editorial board has not commented on the current conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, alleging that the Times editorial board has not criticized Israel's actions because "[m]any American Jews are liberal," and "the Times cannot afford to alienate its liberal base." In fact, since the onset of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, the New York Times editorial page as authored three different editorials on the subject, on July 13, 15, and 18.
Rush Limbaugh deceptively cropped a series of news reports on the recent violence in the Middle East to falsely suggest the reports didn't identify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. In fact, each of the news reports Limbaugh cited mentioned that Hezbollah is an organization devoted to destroying the state of Israel and either called it a terrorist organization or noted that the United States and Israel describe the group as such.
On NBC's Today, host Matt Lauer let Newt Gingrich repeat and promote his claim that current fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, with what Gingrich reported as a fear of Hezbollah attacks elsewhere, amounts to World War III. Despite media reports that Gingrich intends to promote the World War III rhetoric to give Republicans an edge in the 2006 congressional elections -- and that he is also urging President Bush and congressional Republicans to use war rhetoric for political gain -- Lauer failed to question the validity or motivation of Gingrich's characterization.
On his nationally syndicated radio program, Michael Savage responded to the recent escalation of violence in the Middle East by declaring that Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is a "good friend of the liberal left wing, the Michael Moore wing, the [Sen.] Barbara Boxer wing, the [Sen.] Ted Kennedy wing, the anti-American wing of the Democrat Party."
Tucker Carlson baselessly criticized a caller to his MSNBC show by conflating "the rest of the world" with "Islamic extremists." In fact, worldwide polling suggests that America's image has indeed declined worldwide since President Bush took office in 2001.
On Your World, Jonathan Hoenig, managing member of Capitalistpig Asset Management LLC, said the United States "should take preventative action" against North Korea to "take out their capacity to threaten us" and prevent North Korea from becoming "a real threat and a catalyst for a major sell-off on Wall Street."
On June 18, The Washington Post published a cable sent from the U.S. Embassy in Iraq that detailed the deteriorating conditions observed in Baghdad in recent months. Despite the clear significance of the document, the media have almost entirely ignored its publication.
During his interview with Bill O'Reilly, NBC Today host Matt Lauer joined O'Reilly in serving up conservative misinformation to Today viewers. In questions he posed to O'Reilly, Lauer suggested that Democrats would play a "dangerous" "troop withdrawal game" in Iraq, and that if detainees were released from the U.S. prison facility at GuantÃ¡namo Bay and went on to commit terrorist acts, "we've got an international Willie Horton on our hands."
On the May 11 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, when asked for his views on "[b]lowing up Iran," CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck answered, "I say we nuke the bastards." Beck continued: "In fact, it doesn't have to be Iran, it can be everywhere, anyplace that disagrees with me."
On Special Report, Fox News Washington correspondent James Rosen reported that the "intelligence community's unclassified estimate" for when Iran could develop nuclear weapons "points to the end of this decade." In fact, U.S. intelligence agencies have identified 2010 as "the earliest" projected date at which Iran could achieve nuclear weapon capability.
Fox News' John Gibson claimed that military confrontation with Iran "might be inevitable," adding that because Israel "probably do[esn't] have the precision nuke bunker-busters" to eliminate Iran's nuclear facilities, "world leaders may be coming to the U.S. saying, 'Would you please use your super-duper nuke bunker-busters to end this thing with the least possible -- pardon the phrase -- collateral damage?' "
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