MSNBC's O'Donnell "challenge[d]" guest on appeasing terrorists by asking if leaving Iraq would "essentially hand a victory to the terrorists"

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

On Hardball, Norah O'Donnell purported to "challenge" Ron Reagan's criticism of Donald Rumsfeld's comparison of Iraq war critics to Nazi-era "appeasers," asking, "[W]ould [a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq] not essentially hand a victory to the terrorists?"

Setting out to "challenge" MSNBC political analyst Ron Reagan's criticism of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's comparison of Iraq war critics to Nazi-era "appeasers" on the September 1 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, guest host and MSNBC chief Washington correspondent Norah O'Donnell asked: "[W]ould [a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq] not essentially hand a victory to the terrorists?" Referring to Rumsfeld's recent Los Angeles Times op-ed criticizing Iraq war opponents, Reagan asserted that Rumsfeld "said that the people who don't believe in the war in Iraq are bent on appeasing the terrorists. Who exactly is bent on appeasing terrorists? I haven't heard anybody like that." O'Donnell replied, "Ron, let me challenge you on that, on the appeasing the terrorists," then asked, "Would not leaving Iraq and leaving the security challenge there, would that not essentially hand a victory to the terrorists?

Media Matters for America has previously documented (here, here, and here) numerous instances of O'Donnell echoing Republican talking points. The Hardball exchange raises the question of whether O'Donnell would ask a comparable question to an administration official or supporter of the administration's policies, a question such as: "Would not staying in Iraq, rather than focusing our attention on capturing Osama bin Laden, essentially hand a victory to the terrorists?"

From the September 1 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

O'DONNELL: Ron Reagan, you heard some of the strong rhetoric coming from the administration this week. Secretary Rumsfeld says that critics blame -- have a blame-America-first mentality, that, essentially, they are equivalent to Nazi-era appeasers and that the media is, in part, to blame. Your reaction to his comments?

REAGAN: Well, you know, I'll tell you, Secretary Rumsfeld wrote an op-ed in the L.A. Times today and it was a catalog of misperceptions and misdirection. He said, among other things, well, that the people who question the war on terror and the war in Iraq are -- that they don't believe the defense of liberty is worth the cost. He said that the people who don't believe in the war in Iraq are bent on appeasing the terrorists. Who exactly is bent on appeasing terrorists? I haven't heard anybody like that.

This is just political rhetoric and it's not going to work. The American public is leaving this boat in droves now and you see that in the polls. But, as Terry pointed out, it's really the only thing that the Bush administration, the Republicans, have right now, because they're really off the boat on everything else.

O'DONNELL: Well, Ron, let me challenge you on that.

REAGAN: OK, go ahead, Norah.

O'DONNELL: Ron, let me challenge you on that, on the appeasing the terrorists. Would not leaving Iraq and leaving the security challenge there, would that not essentially hand a victory to the terrorists?

REAGAN: No. Actually, about five to seven percent of the fighters in Iraq, by our own military's estimate, are actually foreign Jihadis. The vast bulk of the violence is being created by sectarian militias -- Sunni, Shia, a little bit of Kurds, too -- and that's what we're right in the middle of here. And that's what the public realizes. They have disassociated Iraq from the war on terror and quite rightfully so.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Norah O'Donnell
Show/Publication
Hardball
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