In fourth recent distortion of Democratic statements, Special Report misrepresented Sen. Salazar on Iraq

››› ››› ROB MORLINO

On Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, national security correspondent Bret Baier misrepresented a statement by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) assessing the progress he observed during a trip to Iraq, cropping Salazar's observation that "much of the country remains without infrastructure" and adding a qualifier to the senator's assessment that the Iraqi army is "not yet ready to control its own streets."

On the March 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, national security correspondent Bret Baier misrepresented a statement by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) following a trip to Iraq, cropping Salazar's observation that "much of the country remains without infrastructure," and adding a qualifier to the senator's assessment that Iraqi army is "not yet ready to control its own streets." The instance marks the fourth time in recent editions of Special Report that a statement by a Democratic senator has been distorted or cropped in a way that omits important information or alters the meaning.

Reporting on Salazar's meeting with Iraqi officials, Baier read from a statement released by the senator's office, omitting the line about the lack of infrastructure and paraphrasing another section: "Salazar went on to call the progress he's seen, quote, 'admirable,' while noting that Iraqi forces are not yet fully ready to control the streets;" Since Salazar's actual statement did not use the "fully" qualifier, Baier left the impression that Salazar may have found the Iraqi army partially ready to control the streets.

As Media Matters for America has previously noted (here, here and here), quotes from Democratic senators have been cropped or misrepresented on three other recent occasions during Special Report.

During the January 25 edition of Special Report, Fox News chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle distorted remarks made by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) to falsely claim that Kennedy said the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program -- as President Bush described it -- does not violate the law. In fact, the next sentence of Kennedy's statement indicated that he believes such activities have operated outside of the law.

On the March 13 program, correspondent Major Garrett cropped a quote from Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT) to present a misleading account of Lieberman's view of the eavesdropping program. In a report addressing the resolution introduced by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) to censure President Bush over his authorization of the National Security Agency's wiretapping, Garrett reported that Lieberman said he "supports the surveillance" and called it "a critically important program to the prevention of terrorist acts." Garrett also reported Lieberman's comment that "I don't know a person here in the Senate who is against this program." But Garrett cut out a key part of Lieberman's statement, in which he said that he "disagree[s] with the Bush administration's legal judgment" about the program, saying, "I don't believe that they have operated within the law as it exists."

The following night, during the March 14 program, Angle cropped a quote from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to falsely suggest that Reid did not agree with Feingold that the warrantless domestic wiretapping is illegal. Angle omitted a portion of Reid's remarks -- made during a March 14 press conference -- in which the senator stated that "most legal scholars around the country think that what is going on [under Bush's program] is illegal," as well as an earlier remark from the same press conference, in which Reid said he personally believes the program is "illegal and unconstitutional."

From the March 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

BAIER: [Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-] Jaafari, who is trying to survive Kurdish and Sunni leaders' efforts to force him to withdraw his bid for a second term, said the process of forming the new government will not take longer than five more weeks, a promise Colorado Democrat Ken Salazar took as progress.

SALAZAR: And I am very, very elated by the fact that the prime minister has informed us that hopefully by April we will have a government that is at least formed.

BAIER: Salazar's office on Capitol Hill released a more complete statement from the senator, saying after his meetings with U.S. and Iraqi officials, quote, "I have seen progress in efforts toward democratization, security and economic stability, but a significant amount of work and difficult times remain ahead." Salazar went on to call the progress he's seen, quote, "admirable" while noting that Iraqi forces are not yet fully ready to control the streets. Salazar added, quote, "Strict timelines for success in Iraq are not helpful. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the Iraqis to succeed in creating a peaceful nation for themselves."

From Salazar's March 21 press release:

After meeting with US, Iraqi and international officials in Iraq today, I have seen progress in efforts toward democratization, security and economic stability, but a significant amount of work and difficult times remain ahead.

Progress has been admirable, but much of the country remains without infrastructure and the Iraqi Army is not yet ready to control its own streets. And, it is obvious our troops are performing admirably in difficult situations.

Strict timelines for success in Iraq are not helpful. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the Iraqis to succeed in creating a peaceful nation for themselves.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Bret Baier
Show/Publication
Special Report with Brit Hume
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