Media largely ignored Biden's disclosure that two more Senate Republicans will withhold views on Iraq until after election

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

In a weblog post, ABC News' Jake Tapper reported that two Republican senators told Sen. Joseph Biden that they plan to "break with the White House Iraq strategy," but only after the midterm elections. Only three other media outlets have reported the disclosure.

Noting that Sen. John W. Warner (R-VA) has recently stated that "a change of course" may be needed if the situation in Iraq does not change "in two or three months," ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper reported in an October 6 weblog post that according to Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE), "two other Senate Republicans" will "break with the White House Iraq strategy," but "they won't do so until after the November elections." But despite the significance of the disclosure -- that two Republican senators would opt to withhold their views on a matter of such importance to protect their party's electoral prospects -- most media outlets have ignored it, as a Media Matters for America search* of the Nexis database found. Only the October 6 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, an October 7 New York Times article, and ABC News chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos, on the October 8 edition of ABC's This Week, have noted Biden's claim.

According to Tapper's blog post:

"Two leading Republican Senators have come to me," Biden recalled, and said that after the election "the need to protect the president will be nonexistent" and Republicans will be freer to break with the White House and call for change in Iraq.

Tapper later wondered: "How do you do that math on that?" He then asked: "Holding the Senate is worth, say, 500 dead? One thousand? How many US troops? How many wounded? How do you justify it in your head?"

From the October 8 edition of ABC's This Week:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Chairman Warner doing exactly the same thing. You have Senator Biden on Friday saying that two other Republican senators have come to him and said, "I want to do this after the election." You have Secretary Powell coming out on Wednesday saying, "Change the course."

From the October 6 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:

OLBERMANN: Today, Biden says several Republican senators have told him that the White House has -- let me do the rest of it as a quote -- "already made a decision ... they've got to get the hell out of the position they're in now and they can't do it from under pressure from Democrats and they're going to be able to do it by this, quote, "bipartisan commission."

Is it really conceivable the administration hatched a plan to start all over again in Iraq with the Democrats' plan, but they won't tell us until after we vote next month?

JONATHAN ALTER (Newsweek senior editor): That's pretty close. Yeah, that could very well happen. You know, in Bob Woodward's book, General [John] Abizaid was talking to Democratic Senator Carl Levin and he said we're about this far apart, in other words, the Democrats and the administration.

But what the Warner thing does, Keith, is this really gives the Democrats cover from Republicans on Iraq in this election. Remember, he said, "change the course." That's what he said just on the tape a few minutes ago. That's very different from the official Republican view of "stay the course." So, when Republican candidates say to their Democratic challengers, "Hey, you want to cut and run. You haven't suggested anything specific for what we should necessarily do in Iraq." All the Democrat has to say is, "I'm with John Warner. I'm with your chairman of the Senate Foreign Relation -- the Senate Armed Services Committee." And Warner, in this case, gives the Democrats some real cover.

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