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Hannity

Are U.S. Troops Targeting Journalists in Iraq?

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes ," Feb. 8, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: A chief news executive at CNN, Eason Jordan, has placed himself in the center of another controversy. Jordan told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last month that the U.S. military may be targeting journalists in Iraq.

Joining us now, the president of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell, and the director of "WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception," Danny Schechter, our news dissector.

DANNY SCHECHTER, DIRECTOR OF "WMD": Back again.

COLMES: Danny, look, you have some e-mails from Eason Jordan. You’ve discussed this with him.

SCHECHTER: Well, not only that, I also talked with journalists who were at the Palestine Hotel that day, who are raising questions about why — not only why they were attacked but also why there was never any independent investigation.

COLMES: What did Eason Jordan say?

SCHECHTER: Eason Jordan, you know, basically said that he would rather not talk about it anymore. He says he was not as clear as he wanted to be. And he raised the question, the possibility that as many as 12 journalists were somehow targeted or killed by American military.

COLMES: But he went on to clarify the comments?

SCHECHTER: He didn’t want to say that it was the American soldiers that did it, he was implying, in a sense, there was a policy of some kind to target journalists in Iraq. And there are many journalists in Iraq who believe that.

COLMES: All right. But Brent Bozell, he went on to clarify that he did not mean to imply — and sometimes we misspeak and we want to clarify. We always have to option to do that. And hopefully people will believe our good intentions. He went on to clarify that he never implied or meant to imply that they were targeting people because they were journalists, right?

BRENT BOZELL, MEDIA RESEARCH CENTER: Well, here is the problem. First of all, Alan, we don’t know exactly what he said, because this was an off-the-record meeting. But I think it’s preposterous for him to say he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.

What you’ve got are people who were there who heard his remarks, who are shocked by what he said. A liberal Democratic senator from Connecticut is outraged by it. Barney Frank said, and quoting directly, he said that, in his remarks, that he said the soldiers did this maybe knowing they were killing journalists out of anger, knowing they were killing journalists.

I can’t think of a more, more, more hideous charge to make against our men and women who are fighting and dying in Iraq to say that they’re deliberately killing journalists and not be able to back that one up.

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: I don’t know exactly what he said.

SCHECHTER: Brent, why don’t we talk about what happened? Your name is Tariq Ayub, with the bureau chief of Al-Jazeera at the Arab media center, the same day as the Palestine Hotel was shelled. You had sent to the Pentagon the coordinates of the Arab media center. Everybody knew it was there.

You’re on the roof. You’re watching a plane come closer, an American plane. Suddenly, it strafes you and your building, OK? This happened. He died. They are not happy about it, believe me. They feel that Al-Jazeera was targeted. And it was attacked earlier in Afghanistan.

So there’s a feeling among many that this happened. I spoke — I was at the Arab media summit and spoke to a journalist from Reuters. And I asked her, "Was there an independent investigation of this?" Reuters had asked the Pentagon for an independent investigation. There was none.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: All right. Danny, you’re arguing things that, frankly, if you want to argue them privately, if you want to produce evidence, and you want the world to look at it, you have the capability of doing that. That’s not what is at issue here.

You have, as my good friend, Brent Bozell, said here, Senator Dodd, Barney Frank, outraged that, in fact, he made these allegations without any evidence, proof or substantiation.

SCHECHTER: Yes, he may have been weak at making an argument. But the International Federation of Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and other groups have investigated this.

HANNITY: You are saying our troops are targeting journalists?

SCHECHTER: Not troops.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: By who?

SCHECHTER: That there’s been a policy that has favored embedded journalists over independent journalists, that many Arab journalists were hassled, harassed and killed in Iraq under suspicious circumstances.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Do you have any evidence — because here is what is happening here. You a throwing out these wild allegations...

SCHECHTER: I have some evidence.

HANNITY: It’s outrageous. With no evidence — wait a minute. If you have evidence that our — we have a policy of targeting journalists, then you need not put our troops in harm’s way. Because you know what, Danny? People hear you, and they hear Eason Jordan, and they react to it, and they really believe that.

SCHECHTER: You are arguing — Eason Jordan was offering an opinion about what he believed. I made film, "Weapons of Mass Deception," WMD, and it features a section about, and asks the question, were journalists targeted? Were they targeted? And many people believe they were.

HANNITY: "Many people believe," "I think," "I feel"?

SCHECHTER: We’re talking about journalists that were there.

BOZELL: Can I ask a question? Can I ask a question?

HANNITY: Hang on, Brent.

SCHECHTER: We have footage now of what happened to these journalists inside the hotel, and there was no satisfactory explanation given.

HANNITY: Let me go to Brent.

BOZELL: Can I ask a simple question? Because this is — I want to repeat. This is the most hideous possible allegation that can be made. If this gentleman can’t back it up with a piece of evidence, he ought to apologize right now. Back it up.

SCHECHTER: Well, I’d like to try, if I could a word in edgewise.

HANNITY: Hang on one second. But there’s more than this, Brent, here than anything else. He wants to us watch his movie, and that’s fine. But this is a separate issue.

SCHECHTER: And Eason Jordan, by the way, is backpedaling from this very statement.

HANNITY: But the point is, the statement was made. Witnesses, Democrats — we don’t often quote Senator Dodd and Barney Frank, Brent — but the jeopardy that we put our troops in harm’s way, we make their job tougher. People believe propaganda, they hate them more, and they become bigger targets. We’re putting their lives in jeopardy with reckless statements. That’s why this is so irresponsible.

SCHECHTER: If somebody lobbed a tank shell into this studio, you’d want an investigation, wouldn’t you?

(CROSSTALK)

BOZELL: And frankly, I don’t give — I absolutely don’t — I absolutely don’t give a damn what Al-Jazeera thinks about the American military or what they say about the American military. They have no credibility whatsoever in this debate.

SCHECHTER: They have a right not to be killed and to do their job. You may not agree with them, but they have a right to do their jobs.

HANNITY: But do you have any proof that our troops targeted these guys or that any American — name names. Do you know any American that supported a policy that would target journalists?

SCHECHTER: No, I don’t think it works that way, Sean. That’s why I don’t agree with the way you’re framing it.

HANNITY: But that’s what he said.

SCHECHTER: No, it wasn’t a policy. The effect of — there wasn’t responsibility taken by our military. A tank moved into the Palestine Hotel. Everybody in the world knew there were journalists in that hotel. The guy in the tank claims he didn’t know it.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Until you get more ammunition, you should hold your fire.

BOZELL: In other words, not one shred of evidence.

SCHECHTER: Well, I have a film, "WMD," that makes the argument.

HANNITY: Yes, I know. You want the world to go see your film.

SCHECHTER: Go see it and see for yourself.

COLMES: All right, Danny. Thank you. Thank you, Brent.

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