During August 8 coverage of the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary election, Fox News host Gregg Jarrett offered a stream of Republican talking points, suggesting that a win by Ned Lamont would be a sign of Democrats "becom[ing] the sort-of modern-day George McGovern, who got really creamed politically for his anti-war stance." Jarrett's rhetoric was accompanied by a series of onscreen graphics that suggested a Lamont victory would be "bad news for democracy in [the] Mideast," and would show that the Democratic Party has "forgotten the lessons of 9/11" and is "soft on terror."
On the August 8 edition of Fox News Live, host Gregg Jarrett injected a stream of Republican talking points into coverage of that day's Connecticut Democratic Senate primary election, in which Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman was challenged by Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont. Jarrett's rhetoric was accompanied by a series of on-screen graphics that suggested a Lamont victory would be "bad news for democracy in [the] Mideast," and would show that the Democratic Party has "forgotten the lessons of 9/11" and is "soft on terror." Additionally, Jarrett repeatedly suggested that if Lamont wins, it would be a sign of Democrats "becom[ing] the sort-of modern-day [1972 Democratic presidential nominee] George McGovern, who got really creamed politically for his anti-war stance." But as Media Matters for America has previously noted, recent polling shows that most Americans believe that the Iraq war was a mistake.
In interviewing Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), a supporter of Lieberman, Jarrett asked: "Lieberman's lost a lot of support because he supported democracy in Iraq. If he loses, is that a bad sign for other candidates who support democracy in the Middle East?"
During the segment, an onscreen graphic also read: "A Lamont win, bad news for democracy in Mideast?"
Jarrett later hosted a panel discussion featuring Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor Mary Anne Marsh and Jan Baran, former general counsel for the Republican National Committee and the 1988 Bush campaign. Touting "a joke going around that [anti-war activist] Cindy Sheehan will be Lamont's chief of staff if he wins," Jarrett asked Baran if "the GOP" is "secretly pulling for Lamont because he may symbolize this sort of terminal political illness called McGovernism that could infect the Democratic Party."
Additionally, Jarrett asked Marsh to comment on the following quote from a New York Post editorial: "A Lamont victory would likely send even more Democratic pols scurrying for cover on Iraq and signal a far-left takeover of the party on the scale of the George McGovern debacle in '72."
During the segment, a pair of onscreen graphics read: "Have the Democrats forgotten the lessons of 9/11?" and "Is the Democratic Party soft on terror?"
From the August 8 edition of Fox News' Fox News Live:
JARRETT: As the violence escalates in the Middle East, voters go to the polls in the state of Connecticut in what is widely seen as a referendum in the war on terror. Senator Joe Lieberman facing stiff challenge from an anti-war candidate by the name of Ned Lamont. Lieberman's lost a lot of support because he supported democracy in Iraq. And if he loses, is that a bad sign for other candidates who support democracy in the Middle East? Will this issue drive moderate Dems to the left? Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, the other senator, a member of the [Senate] Foreign Relations Committee, a supporter of Joe Lieberman, joins us now. Good to see you, Senator. You've been campaigning for Joe Lieberman, why?
DODD: Well, because he's a good senator, he's a good man, and he's a good Democrat. He votes against the Bush administration about 90 percent of the time. Has been a very effective member of the Senate on behalf of Connecticut and the country. Any number of issues I can think of, from transportation and health care as well as jobs here in the state of Connecticut, Joe's been a good colleague. He and I disagree on the war, but that's no reason to be against Joe Lieberman. He's been a terrific member of Congress for 18 years. He was a wonderful attorney general in our state for years before that. He has a wonderful record as a public servant. He cares about public policy. And I hope people in Connecticut today will get out, who are Democrats, will get out and support him.
JARRETT: Lamont has done well, Senator, because of his rather strident anti-war rhetoric. If that succeeds and more Democrats embrace that position, is it possible the Democrats could become the sort-of modern-day George McGovern, who got really creamed politically for his anti-war stance?
DODD: Well, I would disagree with your premise. In fact, the most recent poll done 24 hours ago in the state of Connecticut indicated that a majority, close to 60 percent of the people voting for Ned Lamont were voting for him for reasons other than the war in Iraq. I think the primary reason here is against the Bush administration, the Republican leadership in Congress. And they have, unfairly in my view, tarred Joe Lieberman as being a part of that. But the real hostility in Connecticut, not just among Democrats but among independents, unaffiliated voters, as well as many Republicans, is a disappointment about this administration's leadership at both domestic and foreign policy -- that is really at the root of this, and then linking Joe Lieberman up with all of that, which is unfair, in my view.
JARRETT: Right -- sure. Senator, you know, obviously on the right-hand side of the screen as you and I are talking, we're watching the war that Israel is waging against Hezbollah, a terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria, part of the larger war on terror. By opposing the war in Iraq, are you concerned that Lamont and other members of your party will get branded as soft on terror and weak on security?
DODD: I don't think so. In fact, many argue the fact that the war here is actually probably exacerbating the problem on terror in many, many ways. Our troops there, who are doing a wonderful job, are now in sort of a shooting gallery. They're becoming a referee in a civil war in Iraq. Today it's, now it's the Shiia versus the Sunni, and I think it's terribly wrong to keep our soldiers in the position where they have to literally try and separate these people. The Iraqi people have been given an incredible opportunity. We've lost 2,500 of our best and brightest. We have 18,000 seriously injured. The Iraqis themselves now have to decide politically whether or not they can put aside their sectarian differences and build a country. That's really up to them. There isn't a treasury deep enough or enough soldiers in my view to stop that from happening if they don't want it to happen.
JARRETT: All right. Senator, many thanks. Good to see you.
JARRETT: On the right-hand side of your screen, Israeli howitzers stand ready to target terrorists near the Lebanese border. On the left, a political newcomer who may today use his successful anti-war message to knock off a three-term Democratic senator out of Connecticut. Lieberman, Joe Lieberman's longtime colleague Sen. Chris Dodd was here just moments ago on Fox News Live. He doesn't think this election is a referendum on the war.
DODD [video clip]: I think the primary reason here is against the Bush administration, the Republican leadership in Congress. And they have, unfairly in my view, tarred Joe Lieberman as being a part of that. But the real hostility in Connecticut, not just among Democrats but among independents and affiliated voters as well as many Republicans, is a disappointment about this administration's leadership at both domestic and foreign policy.
JARRETT: Jan Baran is a former general counsel for the Republican National Committee, and Mary Anne Marsh is a Democratic strategist and a Fox News contributor. Good to see you both. Notwithstanding what the senator just said, it does seem to us and our reporters there that, you know, the anti-war stance of the candidate Ned Lamont has really dominated this. Mary Anne, here's how the New York Post assessed the impact of today's election. Let me read to you what they wrote in their op-ed: "A Lamont victory would likely send even more Democratic pols scurrying for cover on Iraq and signal a far-left takeover of the party on the scale of the George McGovern debacle in '72." Is that about right?
MARSH: That's about wrong, Gregg. I mean the fact is, here, this race is a warning signal to every incumbent up for election in 2006 and that's really bad news for Republicans, because there are more Republican incumbents up for re-election this year, and they all support staying the course in Iraq at a time when most Americans now think the war is the wrong war at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. We're on the wrong way by George Bush and the Republicans. And all you have to do Gregg, is look at --
JARRETT: And supported initially by a lot of Democrats. So, I mean, there's the rub.
MARSH: In the beginning --
JARRETT: I don't want to go too long. I want to give Jan an opportunity. You know, Jan, there is a joke going around that Cindy Sheehan will be Lamont's chief of staff if he wins. I mean, is the GOP sort of secretly pulling for Lamont because he may symbolize this sort of terminal political illness called McGovernism that could infect the Democratic Party?
BARAN: I think there are Republicans who kind of are taking some perverse pleasure in what's going on here. But I think that what we're witnessing in Connecticut really is a political version of a religious inquisition, and we've had that in our party just two years ago in Pennsylvania with Sen. [Arlen] Specter. And what's common in both of these types of primaries is a perceived heretic who's being called to account by the respective political party's base. And what we also see in these types of races is that the heretic, or the so-called heretic, basically runs on a platform of "Oh, you've got me wrong. I'm really not that much out of line with the conventional wisdom of the party."
JARRETT: Mary Anne, as we watch Israel on the right-hand side of the screen battle a terrorist group that's taken over Lebanon with the support of two terrorist-sponsoring nations, Iran and Syria, really, might the midterm elections become, in a way, a referendum on the war on terror, and does Lamont's virulent anti-war campaign message send another message to voters that Democrats may be soft on terror?
MARSH: Well, it is a referendum, and it's a referendum on how this war was waged. You talk to Sen. [Lincoln] Chaffee in Rhode Island, a Republican, [Sen. Rick] Santorum in Pennsylvania, [Rep. Mark] Kennedy in Minnesota, [Sen. Mike] DeWine in Ohio, they're all Republicans, they're all up for re-election, they all support continuing the course in Iraq. And they're all in trouble. So that's why at the end of the day no matter who wins in Connecticut today, the Democrats will hold onto that seat. You can't say that about an awful lot of Republican senators who are in the fight of their life because they're standing by George Bush and how he waged this war in Iraq and on terror, and he's failed at both.
JARRETT: All right, last question, Jan. Lieberman has cut the gap substantially in the last few days. I mean, if he wins today, as a moderate who supports the war, supports President Bush, what does that do to Democrats and many of their anti-war activists?
BARAN: Well, it puts the Democrats back in the same position they were in the 2002 election, the 2004 election, which is that it shows that you can't simply cut and run away from the war against terror. You may criticize the administration on the way that they're conducting the war, but you can't basically take a position of, "Gosh, we ought to just pull out, we ought to give up in the Middle East, we shouldn't stay in Iraq, we shouldn't be helping out the Israelis," and so forth.
MARSH: No, we should do it right.
JARRETT: Jan Baran and Mary Anne Marsh, thank you both. Good to see you.
MARSH: Thank you, Gregg.
JARRETT: A U.N. cease-fire deal could be on the way right now. But that isn't causing either side of the war to back down. It looks like Lebanon and Israel are trying to get in their last licks. Coming up, fair and balanced coverage from both sides of the battlefield.