On November 21, Fox News host John Gibson falsely claimed that the House of Representatives voted down a measure offered by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) calling for the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Iraq; the New York Post made the same claim in a November 22 editorial. In fact, the House voted on a counter-resolution sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) in response to Murtha's that bore little resemblance to the original. Murtha's resolution asked that U.S. forces be redeployed "at the earliest practicable date," while Hunter's resolution asked that "the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately." Fox News host Sean Hannity also repeated the claim during the November 21 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, the third time he has done so.
Hannity made the claim twice on November 18 -- once during his radio show and once on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes. He was joined by Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal.com editor James Taranto, who made the same claim in his November 21 "Best of the Web" column, as Media Matters for America previously noted.
On the November 21 broadcast of The Big Story with John Gibson, Gibson interviewed New York Post columnist and retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, author of New Glory: Expanding America's Global Supremacy (Sentinel, August 2005), and asked, "Why, then, do you think Murtha's suggestion last week, voted down by the House, is causing so much trouble?" Peters responded that by "calling for an immediate withdrawal," Murtha was encouraging terrorists "to think their strategy is working."
But the House never voted on Murtha's suggestion (House Joint Resolution 73), which he announced in a press conference on November 17. Instead, the House voted on a substitute (House Resolution 571) that was introduced the following day by Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. The vote occurred after a contentious floor debate, during which Murtha described the resolution as "not what I envisioned, not what I introduced."
Murtha's resolution, which cited polling data, the cost of the war, and the rising American death toll, called for the redeployment of U.S. forces "at the earliest practicable date," the maintaining of strategic military presence in the region, and continued diplomatic efforts in Iraq. Hunter's resolution contained a single line: "Resolved, [t]hat it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."
In a November 22 editorial, the New York Post editorial board wrote, "Murtha's service doesn't automatically make him right on military strategy. House Republicans made that plain Friday, forcing a vote to show just how little on-the-record support exists, even among Dems, for his idea." On the November 21 broadcast of his radio show, Hannity said that Murtha "didn't vote for his own pullout plan."
But as the Los Angeles Times reported, Republicans forced a vote not on Murtha's idea but, rather, on a different proposal "intended to fail and aimed at embarrassing war critics." The Washington Post also reported that "[r]ecognizing a political trap, most Democrats -- including Murtha -- said from the start they would vote no."
From the November 21 broadcast of The Big Story with John Gibson:
GIBSON: Greg Kelly at the White House. Greg, thanks very much. For more on the Iraq debate and the divide among our American politicians, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters joins us. He is the author of New Glory. Colonel Peters, today [Sen.] Hillary [Rodham] Clinton [D-NY] not only said it would be a mistake, but a big mistake to withdraw early. It doesn't seem that there is even that much of a divide on the Democrats from Republicans on this issue. Why then do you think Murtha's suggestion last week, voted down by the House, is causing so much trouble?
PETERS: Well, I think it's obviously because he is a combat veteran, and he does have a proud record. But for whatever reason, he has undercut our troops. His calling for an immediate withdrawal encourages the terrorists to think their strategy's working, and I know John Murtha cares about our troops, but with remarks like that, he is encouraging terrorists to kill our troops. And as far as Hillary Clinton goes, she's savvy, her husband -- you might remember he was the president -- recently gave a speech saying it would be a mistake to pull out of Iraq. She's going to be careful to stay around the center on this and see which way the wind blows.
From the November 22 New York Post editorial:
But Murtha's service doesn't automatically make him right on military strategy. House Republicans made that plain Friday, forcing a vote to show just how little on-the-record support exists, even among Dems, for his idea. The bill called for immediate withdrawal; it went down, 403-3.
From the November 21 broadcast of ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
HANNITY: I actually did a lot of, you know, checking on Murtha this weekend. Just -- and by the way, anyone that serves deserves our great respect. I respect that. It's not about John Murtha. As I said, this is about the future for this country and the world. Anyway, so Murtha is claiming that the majority of Americans have called for immediate pullout from Iraq -- well, actually that's not true. He said, "66 percent of responses I have received are in favor of my plan." I don't doubt every liberal vote to him -- you know, wrote to him. It doesn't mention that his Iraq pullout plan was actually put to a vote, 403 to 3. Even Murtha didn't vote for his own pullout plan.