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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

In Which I Puzzle Over "Fox News" And "The Old Crow"...

...without actually concluding anything.

The Hammer falls on Janeane Garofalo, an earnest Hollywood anti-war activist who appeared on "Fox News Sunday". Henry Hanks delivers a scathing review of her performance, but troubles me with this:

SNOW: Well, perhaps let me change the question, then. Why wasn't there an organized anti-war movement under Bill Clinton?
GAROFALO: Oh, there was, and Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins were at the forefront.

According to a Lexis-Nexis search by Newsmax, they weren't. In fact, there is no record of them protesting Desert Fox at all.

Well, I can not refute that. One might also wonder about our air war in Kosovo, conducted without authorization from the UN or the US Congress. Various Google searches do not reveal a public stand by Ms. Sarandon on that intervention, although, to her credit, Ms. Sarandon was involved in the rebuilding of Kosovo.

However, I did stagger across this:

Lift the Sanctions on Iraq: An Ad in the New York Times, July 28, 2000

[The following advertizement was placed in the New York Times on July 28, 2000 by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. John Dear and Susan Sarandon contacted nationally recognized people to speak out against the economic sanctions on Iraq; those listed each contributed significantly to making the ad possible.]


Ten years ago, on August 6, 1990, the U.S. imposed economic sanctions on Iraq. Since then, over one million Iraqis, mostly children under five, have died.

Ten years is enough! The military sanctions on Iraq should continue, but the economic sanctions not only do not work, they are killing innocent Iraqi children.

We say, the time has come to stop killing Iraqi children.


Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Martin Sheen, Rosie O'Donnell, Sr. Helen Prejean, Bonnie Raitt, Mike Farrell...

So she evidently had a position on Iraq which preceded Bush's presence in the White House. And a subtle position it is - maintain military sanctions, but lift economic ones. Dual use goods are treated how, in a modern industrialized economy? Computers, communications equipment, industrial tools and chemicals - I don't know enough about it to know how big a problem this is, but I suspect it is significant. Well, let's press on, I promised to drag "Fox News" into this.

Susan Sarandon and Mike Farell discussed the situation in Iraq with Rich Lowry (of NRO) on "Face The Nation". Fox News describes the encounter thusly:

The conventional wisdom among some pundits is that President Bush hasn't made "the case" for a war against Iraq. But the Sunday shows demonstrated anti-war forces don't make a particularly compelling case, either.

When the questioning gets tough, "peace" advocates change the subject. Someone else in the world is as bad as Saddam, a war will cost too much or a war will spawn new terrorist attacks.

The Hollywood anti-war faction got plenty of face time: Comedienne Janeane Garofalo appeared on Fox News Sunday, while actress Susan Sarandon and actor Mike Farrell were paired off against National Review's Rich Lowry on Face the Nation. Lowry joked he did not have enough Hollywood or TV credits to be in the debate.

Garofalo refused to concede there ever could be a "just war" and claimed sanctions were responsible for "mass murders" in Iraq. Sarandon and Farrell, with a slightly different set of talking points, argued, "Sanctions work, war doesn't."

Sanctions work!?!? This would be a bit of a newsmaker, rivaling the laugh-out loud switch of Dennis Kucinich. The new Democratic candidate for President seems to have a new-found entusiasm for killing babies, born or otherwise, as Taranto observes.

But here it comes - I promised a non-point, and I deliver! Reading the "Face the Nation" transcript carefully does not confirm the notion that Sarandon and Farrell have also flip-flopped on sanctions. The questioners did not really take the conversation in that direction, and the closest quote is this:

FARRELL: Well, I don't think the issue is trust, nor should it be.

Saddam Hussein, as far as I'm concerned, is a war criminal, Bob. But Mr. Lowry has made a number of misstatements I'd like to try to correct.

But with regard to what Mr. Blix is saying, the inspectors are on the ground there. They don't have to trust Saddam Hussein. They have terrific technological ability to determine whether or not the charges that are made by the United States are correct. And they have so far determined that they are not correct.

And if need be, we can enhance both the size of the inspections regime and the length of time in which they have to do their job. And that's exactly what we should be doing. Our argument is, inspections work, war doesn't.

Emphasis added.

So, their current position on sanctions is presumably unchanged. The mechanism which led to the current inspections process, and led to the failure of the previous inspection process, is given short shrift. Lowry provides a hint, however, with this line:

"...look, we tried containment in the '90s, and it didn't work. As soon as Saddam realized there wasn't a serious military threat against him, he kicked out the inspectors..."

Oh my, the notorious "Saddam kicked out the inspectors canard"! Farrell pounces: "Beyond that, as was suggested, Saddam Hussein didn't chase the inspectors out in 1998. They were withdrawn by President Clinton."

Tony Blair himself defended the "Saddam kicked them out" phrasing. The gist of his argument is, Sadam made it impossible for the inspectors to do their job. Rather than sit in their hotel rooms, they left Iraq, so as to avoid being in harm's way while Blair and Clinton bombed Iraq. Having been bombed, Saddam declined to re-admit them. Hair-splitting.

So, careless reporting by Fox News. The Old Crow seems to be right about Desert Fox, but has overlooked Ms. Sarandon's later involvement with Iraq. Lowry and Schieffer did a poor job of raising some interesting points. And I doubt any minds were changed.

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