Big Story graphic on Iraq debate: "DEMS VOW MORE FAILURE"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

On the November 19 edition of Fox News' The Big Story, during an interview with Frances Fragos Townsend, who had resigned that day from her position as White House homeland security adviser, co-host John Gibson asserted: "[W]e can't help but notice the news that the war is going better. We can't help notice that we haven't been attacked, and yet we see the Democrats in Congress continuing to try to surrender, if you will. The Democrats have vowed more failure." Gibson then asked Townsend, "Do you believe that 'stop the war' is a winner?" As Gibson asked the question, an on-screen graphic appeared featuring the Democratic Party logo, the phrase "DEMS VOW MORE FAILURE," and the question, "Is 'Stop the War' a Winner?"

As Media Matters for America noted, on the July 31 edition of The Big Story, Gibson misrepresented July 30 comments by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) to ask, "What should we say about politicians who actually fear a good report on the surge, whose nightly prayers are evidently that their country lose a war because otherwise they might lose an election?" Media Matters has documented other instances (here, here and here) of conservative commentators asserting that the Democrats want the U.S. to lose in Iraq.

From the November 19 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson & Heather Nauert:

GIBSON: Fran, I know this isn't exactly in your turf, but we can't help but notice the news that the war is going better. We can't help notice that we haven't been attacked, and yet we see the Democrats in Congress continuing to try to surrender, if you will. The Democrats have vowed more failure. Do you believe that "stop the war" is a winner?

TOWNSEND: It is not a winner. And, in fact, it is a guaranteed loser, as you know. We are seeing the effects of the surge. We know from our generals that attacks are down substantially in Iraq. We see the beginnings of progress on the part of the Maliki government. This would be the worst conceivable time to decide to pull back. We are making progress, we are seeing progress, but it's fragile. And we have to build on that progress. When I hear people talk about pulling back from the surge, I say, "And what? And what if that -- we don't -- the progress crumbles? What is your plan?" And I don't hear the Democrats having a plan.

HEATHER NAUERT (co-host): Fran, let me ask you, one of the reasons that we've been successful in Iraq is that our men finally got around to figuring out that, pay off some of these tribal leaders, get them on our side. That seems to be working, calming the violence there, but what happens when we leave? It's likely that these guys could just go back to their old ways.

TOWNSEND: I don't think so. I mean, this is really a question of building political progress and building political momentum. What you're going to see is political institutions and alliances begin to build up, just as they do in any other democracy, and it won't depend so much on our generating it. They will naturally occur on their own. People with like-minded views and policy objectives will come together, and I think that's what we've seen in Anbar [Province], and that's what we're beginning to see around other parts of Iraq now.

GIBSON: Fran Townsend, congratulations on your four and half years and your career in public service, and thanks very much. I know we'll be seeing you again.

TOWNSEND: Thanks, John.

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