War and the media: That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
Millions of Americans have reacted to this video taken in Fallujah (search) where a young Marine shot a wounded insurgent inside a mosque. That Marine is now under investigation. But he is innocent, and that will be proven.
Let's take it step by step.
Last night, I had to make a decision whether to show you that video or not. I chose to do it and then provide context. In that way, you could decide about the controversy.
You may remember I did not show the Abu Ghraib (search) pictures, and I was the only national anchorman not to do so. I felt those pictures put our troops in jeopardy and that I could describe the incidents of abuse verbally, which I did.
But combat is different. You have to see it to understand it.
On the tape, the Marine is clearly heard saying, "He's faking he's dead. He's faking he's dead." He said that right before he shot the insurgent. That statement shows the Marine thought the man was a danger.
And he might have been. The day before, the same Marine unit lost one soldier because an insurgent corpse was boobytrapped. Wounded men and even the dead in Iraq can kill you.
The Marine policy of engagement authorizes the use of force when a soldier is presented with a hostile act and -- this is key -- hostile intent. A sudden move by a prone man in a war zone must be taken seriously. One grenade would have killed every Marine in that room and the cameraman as well.
Clearly, the Marine did not come upon the prone insurgents with the intent to harm them. If so, he would have opened up when he entered the room.
This Marine is innocent of any and all wrongdoing, and the videotape proves it.
Now some of you objected to the story even being reported, saying the press has no business in a war zone. That's wrong. The American people decide about which wars to fight, and, in order to make that decision, you need to know the situation. Without the press, you would not know.
But it is correct to say that some military missions should not be covered. But this situation is a legitimate story.
After seeing that video, all of us now know how dangerous and complicated the Iraq conflict is. Those pictures bring the fighting into sharp focus. American soldiers are in grave danger and must protect themselves. Sometimes mistakes will be made, but this is not one of those times.
That Marine protected himself and his squad, and I fully expect him to be not only exonerated but also praised. And, if that does not happen, you will know about it.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
The Vibe Awards (search) will be broadcast nationally tonight. I know I'll sit through that. It's some kind of music deal. I'm not exactly sure what.
But what you will not see is this brawl during the ceremony. One man was actually stabbed. Scores of others fought it out, including hip-hop guy Dr. Dre. We don't know where he is in there, but he's someplace.
It's unclear what started the fight, but it really doesn't matter. You reap what you sow. The rap and hip-hop industry celebrates violence all day long, and here it comes right back at them.
Ridiculous? Of course. It's even ludicrous.
Before we get to the mail, one order of business.
Some viewers have been asking about the signed list of presidential questions we're offering on billoreilly.com. So here it is. These are the exact questions I brought into my interview with President Bush on October 20. The list is signed by me and is free to folks who visit the Christmas store at a certain level.
Remember, much of the money generated by the store goes to charity. We're actually setting up a foundation. So everybody wins here. The kids win. Habitat for Humanity, all of those charities, and you get good stuff. And that is something I think you'll enjoy.