"Terrorists want Kerry": The conservative mantra gains voices as it loses credibility

"Terrorists want Kerry": The conservative mantra gains voices as it loses credibility


On September 20, FOX News Channel host John Gibson became the most recent in a long line of media figures to echo the Republican suggestion that terrorists would prefer a victory for Senator John Kerry over President George W. Bush in November. Gibson used his "My Word" editorial segment of The Big Story with John Gibson to assert: "Of course they'd [terrorists] like to see Kerry win, because it means Bush would get kicked out of the White House."

Gibson's comment comes in the wake of House Speaker Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) September 18 suggestion that Al Qaeda would operate with more comfort if Kerry is elected. Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, and President Bush have all made similar recent statements.

Media Matters for America has documented numerous instances of media figures adopting the Republican claim that terrorists prefer Kerry, which they have done despite a conspicuous lack of evidence to support that claim. In fact, as MMFA has noted, Reuters reported evidence on March 17 that suggests precisely the opposite: In a statement claiming responsibility for the Madrid bombings that killed nearly 200 people in March, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades -- a terrorist organization claiming ties to Al Qaeda -- said it wants to see Bush reelected in November. And on September 21, The Guardian reported that the British ambassador to Italy, Sir Ivor Roberts, called Bush "the greatest recruiting sergeant for Al Qaeda."

Nevertheless, conservatives in the media have loyally propagated this baseless claim:

  • On September 19, CNN senior political analyst and American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Bill Schneider claimed that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda "would very much like to defeat President [George W.] Bush" in November's presidential election.

  • On September 16, Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke claimed that, "for all I know," the growing insurgency in Iraq was "designed ... to help elect [Senator] John Kerry."

  • On August 11, radio host Rush Limbaugh touted an August 11 Washington Times article about a possible Al Qaeda plot to disrupt the U.S. elections that quoted an unnamed "U.S. intelligence official" who claimed, "The view of Al Qaeda is 'anybody but Bush.'"

  • On July 8, MSNBC host Chris Matthews asked if Al Qaeda is "trying to get people to vote Democrat for president."

  • On June 8, FOX News Channel host Oliver North claimed that "every terrorist is hoping John Kerry gets elected."

  • On June 5, critic, author, and FOX News Channel political analyst Dick Morris penned a column in the New York Post titled "Terrorists for Kerry" in which he asserted: "It is obvious that Osama and his allies all want Bush out."

  • On May 27, CNN justice correspondent Kelli Arena reported: "[T]here is some speculation that Al Qaeda believes it has a better chance of winning in Iraq if John Kerry is in the White House." Arena neglected to report the source of this "speculation," which was consistent with claims that have been made by Bush administration officials and prominent Republicans.

Posted In
Elections, National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism
2004 Elections
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