On January 27, conservatives on FOX News distorted and attacked a speech that Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) delivered earlier that day, in which he called for the United States to withdraw troops from Iraq.
FOX News hosts John Gibson and Sean Hannity falsely claimed that Kennedy attacked the troops in his speech. In a discussion with The Nation magazine Washington editor David Corn on The Big Story with John Gibson, Gibson accused Kennedy of "equat[ing] the U.S. military and the insurgents." As Corn pointed out, Kennedy was "not morally equating the two." In fact, Kennedy was addressing Iraqi citizens' opposition to American occupation of their country.
From Kennedy's January 27 speech at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies:
We have the finest military in the world. But we cannot rely primarily on military action to end politically inspired violence. We can't defeat the insurgents militarily if we don't effectively address the political context in which the insurgency flourishes. Our military and the insurgents are fighting for the same thing: the hearts and minds of the people. And that is a battle we are not winning.
On Hannity & Colmes, Hannity accused Kennedy of issuing "attacks on our military" and "saying they're failures." In fact, Kennedy praised the troops' bravery while asserting that the Bush administration's Iraq policy is a "failure":
KENNEDY: President Bush's Iraq policy is not, as he said during last fall's campaign, a "catastrophic success." It is a catastrophic failure. The men and women of our armed forces are serving honorably and with great courage under extreme conditions, but their indefinite presence is fanning the flames of conflict.
Also on Hannity & Colmes, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter suggested to co-host Alan Colmes that Kennedy's critique of the Iraq war was unpatriotic and that he doesn't love America. Coulter claimed that only MSNBC analyst and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan's anti-war position is patriotic -- because he "loves America":
COLMES: [H]ow can Democrats like Ted Kennedy or anybody else stand up, respectfully oppose the policies that led us to this war, and oppose the war itself without being mocked by you?
COLMES: How can you oppose the war? Let's say you legitimately feel on principle --
COULTER: I can answer that, too.
COLMES: -- that you are against this war?
COULTER: I can answer that, too. There is one patriotic anti-war position.
COLMES: What? What is it?
COULTER: One person, and that is Pat Buchanan. You want to know how to take a principled, patriotic anti-war position, listen to Pat Buchanan.
COLMES: Because he's a conservative. Okay.
COULTER: No, because he loves America.