Covering the War in Iraq: Ted Turner Points Fingers at FOX News
This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," October 15, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Retired General Ricardo Sanchez made news this weekend, calling the United States effort in Iraq catastrophically flawed. But lost in the outrage was another statement from Sanchez, condemning media outlets for having political agendas and blasting news agencies for putting soldiers in harm's way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICARDO SANCHEZ (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Given the near instantaneous ability to report actions on the ground, the responsibility to accurately and truthfully report takes on an unprecedented importance.
The speculative and often uninformed initial reporting that characterizes our media appears to be rapidly becoming the standard of the industry.
An Arab proverb states, "Four things come not back: the spoken word, the spent arrow, the past, the neglected opportunity."
Once reported, your assessments become conventional wisdom and nearly impossible to change. Other major challenges are your willingness sometimes to allow manipulation by high-level authorities who leak stories and by lawyers who seek to strengthen their arguments through the use of hyperbole.
Your unwillingness to accurately and prominently correct your mistakes and your agenda-driven biases sometimes contribute to this corrosive environment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLMES: Joining us now, president of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell, and Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill.
Most of his comments actually were critical of the running of the war, Brent. But in terms of criticizing the media, where was the media? The New York Times pretty much did the Bush administration's bidding for it, Judith Miller using Ahmed Chalabi as a source, they've since apologized for that.
Where were the hard questions the media was asking before this war?
BRENT BOZELL, MEDIA RESEARCH CENTER: Alan, not only — not even you believes that the New York Times does the bidding of the Bush administration.
COLMES: They did in the Iraq war, before the run-up to the war, they did.
BOZELL: Let me correct something. Here's the interesting thing. You said that he made a statement about the media. In fact, more than half of his speech, of his entire speech, was devoted to the biggest tongue lashing I have ever heard from a military person to the media.
And you know, your New York Times didn't report a word of that?
COLMES: Well, I don't speak for the New York Times. The New York Times, as I said, was complicit in the run-up to the war.
And Marc Lamont Hill, most of his comments were critical of The Stars and Stripes newspaper, a military publication, having to do with the Abu Ghraib coverage, as I read the context of his comments.
MARC LAMONT HILL, PROFESSOR, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY: Oh, no doubt. And of course, he has a vested interest in the Abu Ghraib controversy, because his whole career is directly connected forever to that controversy. But I think he speaks to a very important point, and that is how, in this age of constant media bombardment, the media plays an extraordinary role in how people imagine the war, how people respond to the war.
And also on a tactical level, it shapes how people engage the war — I'm talking about the United States and Iraq.
COLMES: Well, by the way, I ask you again, Brent Bozell. Where are the hard questions being asked? Where were the questions critical of the Bush administration? Where the questions about the WMD's, the links to 9/11 they continue to make to this day? Where was the media then before the war in Iraq?
BOZELL: Alan, it's such a broken record. Where were the questions to Bill Clinton, to Al Gore, to the U.N., to the Soviet Union, to England?
COLMES: You want to change the subject...
BOZELL: Do we need to replay this over and over again? Every single intelligence entity got it wrong. Not George Bush.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Let me fundamentally, though,Marc, follow up and — and move away from these arguments now that are six years old. Did — is he right in his chastising of the media inasmuch as they're not had balanced coverage, that they exaggerate to make their point and that, more importantly, they're emboldening in our enemies and basically, in my interpretation, and undermining troop morale?
HILL: I think that's absolutely the case. It doesn't just undermine troop morale. It undermines the morale of everyday Americans, who see, particularly, representations of the war in ways that make them think this way is either winnable or patently unwinnable at different moments. Four or five years ago, as Alan pointed out, no one was asking the tough questions.
Now everyone's asking the tough questions. And this type of "put-your-finger-to-the-wind" mentality approach to media is very...
HANNITY: Let me give you an example. And I'll throw this to you, Brent. If they don't put context and texture to an Abu Ghraib, an isolated incident. If they — if they don't put context and texture to Haditha, now that these guys have been exonerated, the vast majority of them. Are they hurting the cause and putting these guys in further jeopardy?
BOZELL: Well, see that's, I think, the point the general is driving at. That when you get your facts wrong, you correct them. And they'll never correct mistakes that they make.
You know, how many — how many media, the media, are on the ground as embedded reporters now, versus been behind the Green Zone in Baghdad? There are very few out there who are actually covering the war.
HANNITY: All right. Stay right there, Brent.
HILL: The problem...
HANNITY: Hang on, Marc.
HILL: The issue — the issue...
HANNITY: Hang on, Marc. We'll give you a chance when we get back.
HANNITY: CNN founder Ted Turner recently gave an interview to GQ magazine in which he was asked, "Well, you're also opposed to the Iraq war."
Now Turner answered, "I've become very antiwar. I don't think the way to accomplish things is to bomb people. All that does is make them angry. That causes insurgent movements and so forth. It's easy to start wars; it's hard to stop them."
The then asks, "I know that you think FOX News helped fan the flames of this war."
Turner replied, "Well, they did. This is Rupert's war."
Joining us now again, Brent Bozell, Marc Lamont Hill.
Should anybody even take him seriously anymore. I guess, probably the lead question.
HILL: That's not a loaded question at all. I mean, here's the thing. Does Ted Turner — does Ted Turner has a vested interest in criticizing Rupert Murdoch and FOX? There's no doubt about that.
But nevertheless, you can't ignore the fact that Rupert Murdoch has been a war hawk from the beginning and that the FOX network, in many ways, advocates war. While you all may be particularly critical of the execution of the war. But the war in Iraq itself has been supported by the network.
HANNITY: Brent Bozell, show me where that Rupert Murdoch, my boss here a FOX and the owner of the FOX News Channel, how did he influence Hillary Clinton to vote to authorize that war? Or John Kerry or any of the Democratic senators? I'd like to know where that influence and where is there evidence of that?
BOZELL: It's the fund-raiser that Rupert Murdoch threw for Hillary Clinton. Don't forget that little piece of...
HANNITY: That was five years later.
BOZELL: Look — now look, here's the reality of Ted Turner. This guy is, I'm sorry to say it, he's a pathetic human being at this point. This man hasn't said or done anything that is noteworthy in the past 10 years.
Every other time he opens his mouth, he has to apologize the next day, whether he's insulting Catholics one day, Christians another day. Last year, making a statement that Korea was — North Korea was a wonderful country because everyone was slim and rode bicycles.
He did it again last month. The man's off his rocker.
HILL: But instead of constructing him as a strong man and talking about all those things that are ancillary, let's talk about the actual point he made and deconstruct this argument.
He's saying here that there's a relationship between Rupert Murdoch's investment in this war and his belief in this war and FOX News' representation of the war. That's not an absurd comment. It seems to play out if we look at it. Just two weeks...
BOZELL: OK. Stop right there. Stop right there. Give me an example of Rupert Murdoch influencing this war. I'm sick and tired of hearing liberals make these kind of statements. Give me an example.
HILL: OK. But you just...
HANNITY: Answer that. Give an example.
HILL: I'll answer — I'll respond to what I said. What I said was that there was a relationship between him publicly supporting this war as when he said that the war is great if we can get it down to — oil down to $20 a barrel. And it's doesn't matter if people die.
COLMES: First of all, let me point out that Mr. Murdoch has me. I'm as vehemently antiwar as anybody. I'm in prime time on his network.
And furthermore, some of — let's not — you know, Brent, my objection to your argument is you want to ridicule Ted Turner, take personal shots at him, demean him on every single score.
BOZELL: No. No, I don't.
COLMES: He does give billions of dollars to good humanitarian causes on a regular basis. So I think it's unfair what you said.
BOZELL: That doesn't give him at the right to insult Catholics one day as Jesus freaks, to insult Christians the following year, and then to make these ridiculous statements, like he's making on television.
COLMES: He's said some crazy things. But you act as if he's got no redeeming value. And that's inaccurate. It's untrue. And he gets billions. He gives half his fortune away to good causes. I think he deserves credit for that.
BOZELL: Wolf Blitzer interviewed him last year, and had to stop from laughing during the interview, because Ted Turner was making such a ridiculous comments.
COLMES: You're not hearing anything I said. The guy is not a total loser, as you're painting him as if should he be ridiculed, as you're suggesting.
BOZELL: He even lost his own network!
HILL: But instead of talking about Ted Turner's character, let's talk about the issue that he raised. Let's not lose sight of the issue here. And that is, is there a relationship between the representation of the war?
COLMES: We've got to run guys. We thank you both very much.
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