The "All-Star Panel" segment on the December 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report contained a clip from This Is DNN, a "satirical video" in which World War II-era "Congresswoman and House leader Ancy Lagosi" attacks the war and then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the segment of This Is DNN that aired on Special Report, "Lagosi" says that "250,000 of our finest [have come] home in wooden boxes ... [t]o support a lie." When "Lagosi" asks, "What has Germany and Italy got to do with Pearl Harbor?" the audience at her speech responds, "Nothing!" and then chants, "Roosevelt lied, millions died." Special Report host and Fox News Washington bureau managing editor Brit Hume described the film as "filled with sepia-toned scenes from ... what purports to be an old newsreel of modern-style coverage of World War II." He then asked the panel, "[I]s that a realistic picture of what it might have been like if today's politics and today's news media coverage had prevailed in World War II?"
As panelist and Roll Call executive editor Morton Kondracke noted during the discussion, Adolf Hitler's Germany, an ally of Japan, declared war on the United States after the United States declared war against Japan on December 8, 1941. The United States then declared war against Germany as well.
This Is DNN: What if Today's Media Covered WWII was produced by Clear Glass Productions and featured at the recent 2006 Liberty Film Festival, which, as Media Matters for America has noted, is meant to "provid[e] a forum in the heart of Hollywood for conservative and libertarian filmmakers." At the festival, ABC Vice President of Synergy and Special Projects Judith Tukich was presented with the festival's "Freedom of Expression Award" for her role in assisting the production and promotion of the factually challenged ABC "docudrama" The Path to 9/11. The screenwriter of The Path to 9/11, Cyrus Nowrasteh, an outspoken conservative, was also given a "Freedom of Expression Award."
This Is DNN has been promoted on right-wing weblogs, including Little Green Footballs and Michelle Malkin's Hot Air. On November 20, Malkin featured This Is DNN in the first edition of Hot Air at the Movies, a series she said showcased "conservative and anti-jihad documentarians and film producers." The film is also being sold on the book service of the right-wing magazine World Net Daily.
From the December 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, featuring Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes and Fortune magazine Washington bureau chief Nina Easton:
HUME: We'll be back in just a moment, when we discuss what would've happened in World War II if today's political and journalistic atmosphere had prevailed then. We'll be right back.
[begin video clip]
ANNOUNCER: According to Pentagon sources, this now brings the official total of Americans killed overseas to over 250,000. Congresswoman and House leader Ancy Lagosi took time out from her re-election campaign to mark the occasion.
LAGOSI: 250,000 of our finest coming home in wooden boxes, for what? To support a lie. What has Germany and Italy got to do with Pearl Harbor?
LAGOSI: That's right, nothing.
CROWD: Roosevelt lied, millions died. Roosevelt lied, millions died.
[end video clip]
HUME: And that is a brief excerpt from a new satirical video that's out called This Is DNN.
And it is filled with sepia-toned scenes from an old -- what purports to be an old newsreel of modern-style coverage of World War II. Back with our panel to pose the question, well, is that a realistic picture of what it might have been like if today's politics and today's news media coverage had prevailed in World War II?
KONDRACKE: Well, clearly, you know, every battle, if it had been transmitted live and in color back to the United States, it would have been horrific.
HUME: Well, what about even in sepia tones like that, when you don't have all the battles, but you have the newsreel footage?
KONDRACKE: Look, there's no question about whether it's harder to run a war nowadays than it was back then, when you had censorship and generally the country was supporting it. But the idea that Iraq is the same as World War II is just not right. I mean, we were attacked at Pearl Harbor. We were attacked. And Hitler four days later declared war on the United States after he had overrun Europe. And everybody in the, or most people in the country -- by the way, Congresswoman Lagosi would have been a Republican in those days. The isolationists were mainly Republicans, not Democrats, as they are now. So, you could -- you know, there were people around who say, "Ah, Roosevelt maneuvered us into this war. He put an oil embargo on the Japanese and forced them," but the fact is that we were attacked. In this case, in the case of Iraq, this was a war of choice. This was a pre-emptive war that we decided that we were going to wage and, you know, I think -- you know, I hope we win, but the fact -- and it was popular in the beginning. But the fact is that it has not been successful, and the president is suffering for it.
BARNES: Mort, I appreciate the distinction you made between Iraq and World War II, but that wasn't the question and that wasn't the point.
KONDRACKE: I answered the question.
BARNES: No, you didn't, really.
KONDRACKE: Yeah, I did.
BARNES: You didn't even touch on the question. The question is what would today's media have been like covering World War II? For example, I think it would have been brutal. I think -- I mean, think of the six weeks when American troops were stuck in Normandy just off the beach and they couldn't break out.
HUME: Not to mention the hideous bloodshed of the Normandy invasion itself -- the Normandy landing.
BARNES: Right. Which was a great miscalculation. All the bombing that was done by the naval ships and the Air Force -- Army planes that had bombed the Germans on Omaha Beach didn't clear them out at all, didn't have any effect and so on. I'm sure there would have been -- the press would have jumped on that. Think of the whole North Africa campaign, which was almost a disaster from beginning to end in World War II. Think of the airborne jump on Sicily, when hundreds of soldiers got blown out to sea and drowned and so on. The press would have been merciless. And it wasn't, as it turned out in World War II.
HUME: What do you think -- Nina.
EASTON: That's absolutely true, and hundreds of thousands people died. And Vietnam, 58,000. Korea, 54,000. Yeah, it would have been very difficult to fight those wars. But I also say -- I say now, so what? I mean the point -- your point -- going back to Mort's point, so what?
HUME: Well, the question that it raises is whether those standards were the right standards to apply or -- which would, I think, it can be argued, have crippled the American war effort, or are the standards of today the right ones to apply?
EASTON: That's, in some ways, beside the point. Because -- there is a reality today that a president --
HUME: So, you don't want to answer the question, or what?
EASTON: No. There's a reality that a president has to factor in today when you ask the American public to go to war, you need to realize and understand what --
HUME: What the news media can do, right?
EASTON: -- the role of casualties. And the media is not -- it's no longer a question of the media in Iraq. The Pentagon --
HUME: That's it for the panel.