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Can U.S. TV Network Decide When We Exit Iraq?

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Let me introduce you to somebody. His name is Robert Wright. He is the chairman of the NBC television network, which is actually a few networks including CNBC and MSNBC. In essence, he runs those networks.

Since I used to work over there and know Mr. Wright and know how things work somewhat, I am confident I am right when I say Bob Wright decided, or at least approved, NBC's policy to refer to whatever it is that is now going on in Iraq as a civil war.

The Pentagon doesn't think so. The White House doesn't think so. Even CBS Evening News Executive Producer Rome Hartman said he thought NBC's decision wasn't so much a news judgment as a political judgment.

I think Mr. Hartman is correct. And it raises the question: Can an American network decide when the U.S. surrenders in Iraq? Can that network decide when the U.S. leaves Iraq and under what conditions? Is NBC covering the news or creating the news?

NBC now calls it a civil war, and The New York Times has followed suit. (Maybe Bob Wright knows a lot about civil war because that is apparently what has been happening inside NBC News.)

Anyway, so now does NBC say if America gets into a war or not, or can NBC say when America is going to leave a war or not? Does Bob Wright now get to make the call?

I worked at NBC News a short time. I've talked about it so much I can't imagine there isn't anybody who doesn't know NBC — and I suppose that means Bob Wright — actually fired me twice.

No hard feelings, honest. I'm really glad I'm at FOX.

But I do have to wonder what Bob Wright is up to. I have to wonder if it would be possible for FDR to have conducted World War II under the kind of questioning that the administration gets from "Meet the Press." Could Eisenhower have ordered D-Day knowing he'd be held responsible for so many American deaths and probably not given much credit for a successful invasion? Could Lincoln have conducted the Civil War under this kind of scrutiny? Could Lincoln have suspended Habeas Corpus and arrested his political opponents if he had to face the outrage that would have come from the studios of an 1860s NBC News?

People are entitled to their opinions, even network chairmen. But you have to wonder if it's such a great idea for network chairmen to decide when it is we have lost a war.

That's My Word.

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