Fox & Friends falsely juxtaposes Pelosi's remarks about Shinseki and McChrystal to accuse her of hypocrisy

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Fox & Friends hosts Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson charged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with hypocrisy based on a false comparison of remarks Pelosi made in 2005 criticizing the Bush administration's reaction to Gen. Eric Shinseki's recommendation for a troop increase in Iraq, and recent remarks Pelosi made criticizing Gen. Stanley McChrystal for making strategy recommendations about Afghanistan during a London press conference. In fact, it is not inconsistent for Pelosi to take issue with McChrystal but not Shinseki: Pelosi specifically criticized McChrystal for using a "press conference" to reject calls to narrow the focus of the war in Afghanistan, which is different than Shinseki's decision to reveal his position on troop deployments in response to a direct question explicitly asking for "a range" during sworn testimony in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Fox & Friends juxtaposes Pelosi's remarks to claim she had "a change of heart depending on who is sitting in the White House"

From the October 7 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

DOOCY: You know, yesterday we showed you a little snippet where she said that General McChrystal shouldn't use press conferences to make troop recommendations after he made a speech in London. Also, big -- that 66-pager was leaked to The Washington Times -- Post, that is to say. And yet, Nancy spoke out in 2005, when George Bush was in office, about how General Shinseki was canned because he did just that. Watch this.

PELOSI [video clip]: I remind you, the president, when General Shinseki said that you need 300,000 troops in order to get the job done and come home safely and soon, he was fired. So this president is saying that he listens to the commanders in the field. I don't know about that.

DOOCY: Well, first of all, he was not fired. And this is one of those canards that has been bandied about for a long time, that he was fired because he came out. He apparently wasn't retired early, either. He retired from the Army after spending his full term. And that job with the Joint Chiefs is four years. Nonetheless, here's Nancy on Monday talking about McChrystal doing just that.

PELOSI: Let me say this about General McChrystal, with all due respect. His recommendations to the president should go up the line of command. They shouldn't be in press conferences.

DOOCY: What happened?

CARLSON: All right, so she apparently has had a change of heart depending on who is sitting in the White House.

Pelosi was criticizing McChrystal for announcing Afghanistan recommendations in a "press conference"

NY Times: McChrystal "used a speech" in London "to reject calls for the war effort to be scaled down ... to a narrower focus on hunting down Al Qaeda." An October 1 New York Times article reported that, in a question-and-answer session following his October 1 speech at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies, McChrystal "reject[ed] calls for the war effort to be scaled down from defeating the Taliban insurgency to a narrower focus on hunting down Al Qaeda, an option suggested by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as part of the current White House strategy review." From the Times article:

General McChrystal, 55, did not mention Mr. Biden or his advocacy of a scaled-down war effort during his London speech, and referred only obliquely to the debate within the Obama administration on whether to escalate the American commitment in Afghanistan by accepting his request for up to 40,000 more American troops on top of the 68,000 already deployed there or en route.

But he used the London session for a rebuttal of the idea of a more narrowly focused war. When a questioner asked him whether he would support scaling back the American military presence over the next 18 months by relinquishing the battle with the Taliban and focusing on tracking down Al Qaeda, sparing ground troops by hunting Qaeda extremists and their leaders with missiles from remotely piloted aircraft, he replied: "The short answer is: no."

"You have to navigate from where you are, not from where you wish to be," he said. "A strategy that does not leave Afghanistan in a stable position is probably a short-sighted strategy."

Pelosi: McChrystal's "recommendations ... shouldn't be in press conferences." During an interview on the October 5 edition of his PBS show, Charlie Rose asked Pelosi whether she had "any problem with what General McChrystal said in London in his speech or the press conference." Pelosi stated, "I don't know everything he said," but added, "[L]et me say this about General McChrystal, with all due respect. His recommendations to the president should go up the line of command. They shouldn't be in press conferences." Rose went on to state, "That's what General Jim Jones said yesterday." Pelosi further stated that "the fact is I think that's not where this debate takes place." [Charlie Rose, 10/5/09, accessed via Nexis]

By contrast, Shinseki called for more troops in Iraq in response to a direct question during sworn Senate testimony

Shinseki's recommendations came during direct questioning by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). In February 25, 2003, testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, when directly asked by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) to provide "a range" of the necessary troop deployments in Iraq, Shinseki stated that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be needed to successfully occupy Iraq. A February 25, 2003, Associated Press article detailed the exchange between Shinseki and Levin:

The Army's top general said Tuesday a military occupying force for a postwar Iraq could total several hundred thousand soldiers.

Iraq is "a piece of geography that's fairly significant," Gen. Eric K. Shinseki said at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he said any postwar occupying force would have to be big enough to maintain safety in a country with "ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems."

In response to questioning by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the committee, Shinseki said he couldn't give specific numbers of the size of an occupation force but would rely on the recommendations of commanders in the region.

"How about a range?" said Levin.

"I would say that what's been mobilized to this point, something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers," the general said. "Assistance from friends and allies would be helpful."

Fox News offered far more coverage of McChrystal's recommendations than Shinseki's

Fox News used McChrystal recommendation to criticize Obama, but almost entirely avoided criticizing Bush over Shinseki. As Media Matters for America detailed, according to searches of the Nexis database, Fox News reported on McChrystal's recommendation to increase U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan on 17 programs in the week after it was reported by The Washington Post, but mentioned Shinseki's recommendation that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be needed to successfully occupy Iraq on only six programs available in Nexis in the three and a half months between his testimony to Congress and his retirement as Army chief of staff. Moreover, Fox News personalities repeatedly criticized President Obama for having not yet acted on McChrystal's advice but almost entirely avoided criticizing the Bush administration for not heeding Shinseki's 2003 recommendation.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Afghanistan
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends
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