FOX News wasted no time jumping on the dispute over British
captives in Iraq in order to ramp up the level of rhetoric against
Iran. Contrary to its “We report, you decide” motto,
it was clear from the last two Hannity & Colmes programs
(3/26 and 3/27/07) that FNC execs have already decided that
Americans should hate Iranians more than ever while not bothering
to report the possible ramifications of an increased conflict
or heightened tensions. With video.
On Monday, March 26, there was a reasonably balanced report
on the situation by Sky News. But that was followed by an unbalanced
discussion with radio talk show host Laura Ingraham about how
the US should proceed. Ingraham has never served in the military
and has no apparent credentials in foreign policy yet she was
the only guest to discuss this serious situation.
Meanwhile, the FOX News producers did their best to tie this
situation to the 1979 hostage crisis – and, presumably,
ratchet up animosity for Iraq – by putting “Day
4” and “Hostage Crisis” on the screen.
Chickenhawk Sean Hannity did his best to get Ingraham to advocate
for war. “People don’t want America to get involved
but… We are really actively in this crisis, no?”
Ingraham stopped just short of calling for military action,
so Hannity tried again. Citing a Wall Street Journal article,
he said,“Iran was at its most diplomatically pliant after
the US sank much of their Navy, and this was when Reagan was
president… He took military action and that seemed to
be the most effective technique.” He added that there
was a report that British soldiers were ordered not to take
military action as the sailors were being seized. The non-serving
Hannity declared that kind of restraint “unimaginable
to me.” Note to self: Add military expert to Hannity’s
self-styled range of expertise.
Ingraham said Iran thinks “it can do whatever it wants,
almost with impunity… As far as definitive steps to really
turn them back, I don’t think we’ve done enough
and I think we’re seeing the cost of that.”
“We have over 100 US soldiers in Iraq that died as a
result of the weaponry being provided by the Iranians,”
Hannity said, without noting that this assertion by US military
officials has aroused skepticism. As the New York Times reported,
US officials provided no direct evidence but said “such
an assertion was an inference based on general intelligence
assessments. That inference, and the anonymity of the officials
who made it, seemed likely to generate skepticism among those
suspicious that the Bush administration is trying to find a
scapegoat for its problems in Iraq, and perhaps even trying
to lay the groundwork for war with Iran.”
Alan Colmes argued vehemently against an escalation of tensions.
He said there has been a softening of rhetoric from Iran. “They’re
not looking to take this to the next level at this point. We
shouldn’t be inflaming it. I don’t think inflammatory
rhetoric helps at this point. The idea is to get a settlement
and to compare this to what happened to the 444 day hostage
taking in 1979, four days in when they’re already softening
their rhetoric makes no sense to me.”
Hannity tried to rudely interrupt. “How about releasing
the hostages?” he said, talking tough from his armchair.
Ingraham, perhaps without a better argument for her own side,
stooped to the all-too-familiar FOX News custom of attacking
liberals, rather than their argument. “Why are you carrying
water for the mullahs?”
Colmes argued that he was not carrying water for the mullahs,
then cited the Baker Hamilton Commission which offered possible
solutions to the problems in the Middle East, one of which was
to negotiate with Iran.
“Last time I checked James Baker was not elected President
of the United States,” Ingraham said scornfully.
Last time I checked, Laura Ingraham had far fewer foreign policy
credentials than Baker. But that didn’t stop her from
a string of slurs against Colmes for supporting Baker’s
position. “I’m just trying to figure out, Alan,
why a liberal in the United States would stand up for mullahs
and the government of Iran.”
Colmes had a great answer. “That is a ridiculous assertion
to accuse me of standing up for mullahs. I’m standing
up for peace and dialogue and a way of dealing with Iran because
what we’ve been doing so far hasn’t worked very
well, has it? …Stop accusing liberals of standing up for
mullahs because they don’t agree with your way of foreign
Last night, March 27, the screen said “Hostage Crisis
Subbing for Sean Hannity was another FOX News chickenhawk,
Rich Lowry. According to wikipedia, Lowry is still young enough
to serve in the military. But he didn’t allow his personal
reticence for military service get in the way of advocating
battle for others. “Is there any real military option
to go in and get these guys?” he asked Sir Alan West,
former head of the British Royal Navy.
West pointed out that it would be extremely complex, particularly
since it’s unknown where the British troops are being
detained “and of course it would be a huge escalation.”
But, he added this was “the sort of thing” that
nations went to war over in the 19th Century. “One can’t
allow this sort of thing to be happening.”
In a further effort to draw parallels to the 1979 crisis, another
guest was a former hostage, Don Sharer. Sharer opined –
and his view was accepted as fact – that President Ahmadinejad
was involved in the crisis. No mention was made that Ahmadinejad
has denied such an accusation.
Sharer, without any evidence other than his experience 28 years
ago, opined that the British captives would be treated brutally.
He added, “There’s not a lot of doubt in my mind
that Ardinimajad (sic) didn’t know this was coming.”
How much Middle East credibility can you give someone who can’t
even pronounce the name of the president of Iran?
Lowry gave him plenty. “Does this just bring home to
you that this is the same regime that engaged in that illegal
act 25 of 35 years ago, that this is the same radical, anti-western
regime?” Lowry asked.
Three guesses how Sharer answered.
Unfortunately, Colmes lost much of the fire for diplomacy he
had shown the previous night and spent most of his segment asking
Sharer questions about his captivity.
Meanwhile, with all that anti-Iranian rhetoric, nobody reported
that oil prices surged as the result of the tensions. While
the FOX News millionaires dream of war for others to fight and
die over, the rest of us can just increase our credit card debt.
Video of the March 26 discussion with Ingraham, below. You
can watch the March 27 discussion on the Hannity & Colmes
website. It's called "Iran Showdown."