Answer to Kevin Drum's question:
In remarks following Maliki's Spiegel
interview where he said he's in general agreement with Obama's 16-month withdrawal plan, Kevin Drum writes
So does the press decide that this means Obama has shown good judgment and good instincts in foreign affairs?
Here' how the story was played on ABC's World News Tonight
this Sunday: [McCain-friendly elements in bold
Barack Obama will be making his way to Iraq, for talks with commanders of the war he spoke against and the surge he said wouldn't work. ABC's Terry McCarthy is in Baghdad tomight.MCCARTHY:
David, the next big issue for Senator Obama after Afghanistan is Iraq, which he's also scheduled to visit on this trip. At the top of his agenda, how soon can U.S. withdraw troops from Iraq.MAN ON STREET:
On the campaign trail back in the U.S. Obama has been saying he want's to draw down most troops in sixteen months. Briefly this weekend Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki appeared to agree with Obama's time frame in an interview he gave to a German magazine. But yesterday his office said he had been misquoted. He said he did not want to get involved in U.S. politics.
The U.S. military opposes a fixed timetable. Today Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said:
"The consequences could be very dangerous if troops left too quickly."Interestingly, many Iraqis agree.
I prefer the Americans leave gradually [said this man]. It should depend on the situation.MCCARTHY:
A timetable for withdrawal, fine with Iraqis, as long as it's flexible.IRAQI PARLIMENTARIAN MAHOUD OTHMAN:
I think it's a good idea but it should be a timetable agreed by the Iraqis, taking into consideration what's going on on the ground.MCCARTHY:
Obama's trip to Iraq is intended to give him exactly that, an idea of what's going on on the ground. David.ANCHOR:
Terry McCarthy in Baghdad tonight. Terry, thank you.
[confirming mp3 here
ABC served up several pro-McCain and skeptical-Obama narratives:
- Obama going over to discuss "the surge he said wouldn't work".
- Maliki briefly appeared to agree with Obama, but that was an apparent illusion since later his office said Maliki had been mistranslated.
- No mention that the "mistranslation" claim came from CentCom [And Mark Kleiman has thoughts about that.]
- No mention that Speigel stands by its story.
- Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, quote in opposition to Obama's basic stance ("consequences could be very dangerous").
- No poll of Iraqis, but instead, a random guy on the street used as a prop to support the claim that "many Iraqis" want the U.S. to leave gradually. [Of course in a country of 20 million you can find "many Iraqis" supporting any policy you can think of.]
- The "flexible", "ground situation" criteria, which is a McCain talking point, echoed by the reporter and one Iraqi politician.
Quite a package.
That ABC report was quite an amazing bit of propaganda against Obama.
Peter Jennings is spinning in his grave. Jennings was the most astute about American empire among the network anchors of the 1970s and 1980s--perhaps because he was Canadian. Jennings' report on the Arab-Israeli conflict and his indictment of Western and US complicity in keeping the Khmer Rouge in power in Cambodia throughout the 1980s were courageous and hold up well.
McCain is looking to lose badly, but the MSM wants/needs/believes it has to be a close race.