Blitzer to comedians making light of World War III talk: "It would be funny if it weren't all that serious, and it's very, very serious"

››› ››› ADAM SHAH & ANDREW SEIFTER

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."

On the July 21 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer and CNN national news correspondent Jeanne Moos noted, as Media Matters for America has documented (here and here), 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, quoting former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA), Fox News hosts John Gibson, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, and CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck all saying that they believe that World War III has begun and American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Michael Leeden saying that, in actuality, World War IV had begun. The report featured on-the-street interviews with four people, all of whom stated that World War III had begun or was at least "brewing." Moos identified as the "liberal" position the view from The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel that "World War III talk is a ploy" by conservatives. In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, The Seattle Times reported that in a recent interview, Gingrich talked about the "need to recognize World War III as important for military strategy and political strategy," saying that "he worried about Republican chances in the fall elections" if they did not make the case that World War III has begun to the American people.

While Moos's segment included clips from the Comedy Central's Colbert Report in which host Stephen Colbert satirized the trend of conservatives referring to World War III or World War IV and from Comedy Central's The Daily Show, both Moos and Blitzer stated that the question of whether World War III had begun was "serious." Moos said, "Funny as it sounds ... this is serious." Blitzer stated: "It would be funny if it weren't all that serious, and it's very, very serious."

From the July 21 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: We're hearing it more and more from pundits, politicians, comics, and radio talk show hosts. Three little words: World War III. That's how they're describing the current state of global conflicts. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes this first look at the Third World War.

MOOS: Is all the breaking news breaking you down? Just when it seems like it can't get worse --

COLBERT [video clip]: Roll our new graphic!

[On-screen text reads: "The road to World War III"]

MOOS: Sounds like a joke, right?

[Clip of on-street interview]

MOOS: It sure doesn't feel like World War III right here, this second.

PERSON 1: No, but it feels like it's brewing.

MOOS: Do you feel like it's World War III?

PERSON 2: Yes, I do. You can feel it.

MOOS: Newt Gingrich feels it.

GINGRICH [video clip]: We're in the early stages of what I would describe as the third World War.

MOOS: It's easy to poke fun at the mostly right-wingers who warn of --

GIBSON [video clip]: World War III.

O'REILLY [video clip]: World War III, right?

HANNITY [video clip]: The start of World War III.

LEDEEN [video clip]: More like World War IV.

MOOS: Four, because some consider the Cold War to have been World War III. Funny as it sounds --

BECK [video clip]: We've got World War III to fight.

MOOS: -- this is serious.

BECK [video clip]: This is a religious war.

MOOS: Even President Bush has used the term.

BUSH [video clip]: I believe that was the first counterattack of World War III.

MOOS: Referring to the passengers who foiled the hijackers of United Flight 93. Take Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Israel, and terrorism from Britain to India to the U.S. --

GINGRICH [video clip]: I believe if you take all the countries I just listed, that you've been covering, put them on a map, look at all the different connectivity, you have to say to yourself, this is in fact World War III.

MOOS: The Daily Show says if you took all those countries, you'd get crisis in...

JON STEWART (The Daily Show host) [video clip]: IS-RAF-GHYIANONAN!

MOOS: World War III seemed to be the stuff of video games, or comic books, or a Bob Dylan song from the '60s --

DYLAN [singing "Talkin' World War III Blues"]: Some time ago a crazy dream came to me, I dreamt I was walkin' into World War III.

MOOS: Does it feel like World War to you?

PERSON 3: I don't watch the news. I like to walk around thinking I'm in Disneyland. I'd rather not know than know, because it does feel like World War III when you watch.

MOOS: It feels like a war to you, World War III?

PERSON 4: Yeah, it sure does, you know, it's crazy what this world is coming to.

MOOS: The liberal editor of The Nation thinks World War III talk is a ploy.

VANDEN HEUVEL [video clip]: Bang the drums of war so we can deflect attention from a war we failed in.

MOOS: Remember when World War III was just a TV movie? The U.S. versus the Soviet Union, and the president was --

[begin video clip from ad for film World War III]

VOICEOVER: Rock Hudson.

HUDSON: God forgive me.

VOICEOVER: World. War. III.

[end video clip]

MOOS: But before you --

SINGERS [video clip from 1951 educational film Duck and Cover]: Duck and cover ...

MOOS: -- for World War III, take comfort in this Internet posting: "It ain't a World War until France surrenders." Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

BLITZER: It would be funny if it weren't all that serious, and it's very, very serious.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, International Conflicts
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Wolf Blitzer, Jeanne Moos
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
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