A November 18 post on CBS' Public Eye, the network's ombudsman weblog, quoted CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer explaining why Rep. John Murtha's (D-PA) November 17 call to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq "was newsworthy": "When John Murtha says something on defense, people listen. He has always been a hawk, he's not a garden variety liberal, nor a Bush hater."
I asked CBS "Evening News" anchor Bob Schieffer why Murtha's latest salvo was newsworthy, in light of his past statements.
He noted that while Murtha had been critical of the administration and its handling of the war in the past, he had never unequivically [sic] called for withdrawal. And coming from Murtha, a well-respected hawk and veteran, that was a big deal. "I don't know how much you know about dairy farms, but you put the bell on the lead cow, and all the other cows follow her," he said. "When John Murtha says something on defense, people listen. He has always been a hawk, he's not a garden variety liberal, nor a Bush hater."
"The fact that he said pull out -- and said it so strongly -- has got to send a message to the White House that they're losing support in the war," Schieffer added. And the fact that Murtha's speech came in the same week as a Senate resolution calling for more accountability from the White House made it particularly significant, he said, since it provided more evidence of the increasing pressure faced by the White House.
"Our job is to point it out when we think something significant and different happens," Schieffer said. "Politicians make speeches all the time. Some matter and some don't. It was our opinion that this one mattered."