This is from FAIR:
MSNBC's Pro-Bush "Town Meeting"
June 29, 2005
After George W. Bush's June 28 speech about Iraq, MSNBC's Hardball presented
viewers with a decidedly skewed "town meeting" featuring a panel
dominated by Iraq war boosters.
The two-hour coverage, hosted by Chris Matthews, was anchored by a panel
discussion that featured MSNBC reporter Norah O'Donnell, Islam scholar Reza
Aslan, and four conservative Bush supporters: Tony Perkins of the Family
Research Council, MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, Bobbie Patray of the Eagle Forum of
Tennessee and Jerry Sutton, pastor of the Two Rivers Baptist Church in
Nashville, Tennessee, where the event was held.
MSNBC's coverage also included interviews with Newsweek's Jon Meacham,
Democratic Sen. Joe Biden (who called for "more boots on the ground"),
and Republican senators John McCain and John Warner.
In other words, MSNBC's "town meeting" excluded forceful critics of
the Iraq war--a war that polls show most Americans no longer support, or believe
the White House is mismanaging.
MSNBC's O'Donnell was careful to note that while war critics were the majority,
"at the same time, a majority of Americans also believe that we should stay
and finish the job. Only 1 in 8 Americans believe that we should cut and run.
There are liberal groups like Moveon.org that say we should get out. That's the
minority in America. People think that we should stay and finish the job."
O'Donnell was apparently referring to a Washington Post poll question (6/28/05)
that asked about increasing or decreasing troops, in which 13 percent of
respondents wanted U.S. troops to "withdraw immediately."
Most polls, however, show that support for withdrawing U.S. troops is
substantially higher than 13 percent. In response to another question in the
same poll, 41 percent said that the U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Iraq.
In a recent Gallup poll (6/8-12/05), 46 percent said that the "U.S. should
bring its troops home as soon as possible," while a Harris poll (6/7-12/05)
found 63 percent in favor of "bringing most of our troops home in the next
Audience participation also tended to support Bush, causing host Matthews to
comment: "It's been a great group. As you can see, the people are
passionate. And they have strong patriotic beliefs and moral beliefs, and yet
it's been very nice here. No fights or anything." Of course, having an
unbalanced panel discussion makes it easy not to have any "fights."
Matthews also praised the audience for being supportive of Bush, asking one
guest: "Why do you think the people in this part of the country seem to be
more manifestly patriotic about this president, and this war, and this
situation? What do you think it is, the separation from the coasts?"
Does Matthews really believe that supporting the Iraq war makes citizens more
"patriotic"? And is supporting a president the same as being
"patriotic about" the president? Were citizens who opposed President
Clinton being "unpatriotic" about him?
One member of the audience who disagreed with the consensus provided by MSNBC
was actually booed by the town meeting audience, causing Matthews to remark:
"Don't boo, now, please, ladies and gentlemen. It's been a good night here.
Howard Dean is going to come on our program tomorrow, a different point of view.
We have diversity run amok." Has it really come to the point where having
the leader of the Democratic National Committee on TV qualifies as
"diversity run amok"?
Contact MSNBC and tell them that serious discussion of the Iraq war should
include critics of that war. Ask Chris Matthews if he really thinks war
supporters and Bush supporters are more "patriotic."
Phone: (202) 783-2615
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