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During an August 5 interview on Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday with Brookings Institution scholars Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, authors of a July 30 New York Times op-ed that argued in favor of continuing the Bush administration's Iraq war escalation "at least into 2008," host Chris Wallace introduced O'Hanlon and Pollack as "two critics of the way the Bush administration has conducted the war." But, as Media Matters for America has noted, both were influential proponents of the Iraq war before the invasion, and O'Hanlon wrote a column in support of President Bush's troop escalation, as Media Matters has also documented.
O'Hanlon wrote that, while "[c]ritics rightly argue that it may well be too little, way too late" for a troop increase, "for a skeptical Congress and nation, it is still the right thing to try -- as long as we do not count on it succeeding and we start working on backup plans even as we grant Bush his request." O'Hanlon added: "However mediocre its prospects, each main element of the president's plan has some logic behind it." O'Hanlon further argued that "the president wants to move in the right direction on economic reconstruction" and that he "is rightly telegraphing to Iraqi leaders that they must reach compromises with each other." O'Hanlon concluded that "for now, Congress should also give the president the money and support that he requests."
This is not the first time a Fox News host has asserted that O'Hanlon and Pollack were Iraq war critics who have now become more supportive of the war without noting their early support of the Iraq war or O'Hanlon's January 14 column. As Media Matters documented, during the July 30 broadcast of Fox News' Special Report, host and Fox News Washington managing editor Brit Hume described the two as "[a] pair of longtime opponents of President Bush's policies in Iraq."
From the August 5 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: This week, there was an op-ed column called "A War We Just Might Win" that said the U.S. troop surge is creating significant changes on the ground in Iraq. What made it noteworthy was who wrote it -- two critics of the way the Bush administration has conducted the war, Kenneth Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon from the generally liberal think tank the Brookings Institution. And gentlemen, welcome to Fox News Sunday. You're just back from eight days traveling all over Iraq. Ken, why don't you start? What did you see over there that led you to believe that this troop surge might actually work?
WALLACE: Which brings us to the bottom line of your article -- and let's put it up. "The surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008." Ken, you've got to know there are a lot of people in this town who don't want to hear that.
POLLACK: We've heard that very loudly from those people over the course of the last week. But, you know, the fact of the matter is that Mike and I are most interested in what's in the best interest of the country, and we're going to call things exactly as we see them, and we felt that it was important to say that, you know, we saw some progress over there.
WALLACE: Here's what you wrote: "Iraqi politicians of all stripes continue to dawdle and maneuver for position against one another when major steps towards reconciliation -- or at least accommodation -- are needed." Michael, do you see any signs that the Maliki -- Prime Minister [Nouri Kamal al-] Maliki and the Parliament are getting their act together and absent serious moves towards national reconciliation, does the surge make sense?