MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2003
GENERAL SPINNING: On the front page of yesterdays Washington Times, James Lakely was peddling some prime agit-prop. Youve seen the spin a hundred times nowLefty news orgs bungled the war, misreporting Bush and Rumsfelds brilliant victory. Later this week, well take a look at Lakelys stream of clipped quotations and groaning deceptions. But this morning, well restrict ourselves to one key pointhis spinning of General Wesley Clark.
LAKELY: Retired Air Force Gen. Thomas G. McInerney, however, was virtually alone in predicting a quick defeat of Saddams regime. In an op-ed piece he wrote for the Wall Street Journal in early October, Gen. McInerney predicted a campaign that will be over within 30 days and have less casualties than we had in Desert Storm with a smaller attacking force.According to Lakely , McInerney got it right. The blundering Clark got it wrong.
For the record, Lakely s points are prime Fox spin, pleasing to all WashTimes readers. During the war, McInerney has been one of the Fox News Channels on-air pundits, and on the April 9 Special Report, Brit Hume and the gang had spun this same linepraising McInerney for his prescience while slamming perfidious Clark. Mort Kondracke praised McI to the skies. Ive got to say that the person who was the most consistently right of all the embedded TV generals was our own Thomas McInerney, who from the beginning said that the combination of precision air and limited ground and special operations and psychological warfare was going to win this thing and win it in orderly fashion, Mort gushed. Brit Hume agreed that McI was the bestand Kondracke went on to damn Clark (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/11/03). Wesley Clark, who wants to be vice president of the United Statesthe Democratic Party should think very carefully about taking advice from Wesley Clark, who has been a doomsayer about this from the beginning, the spin-peddling pundit pleasingly said. In Sundays Times, compliant Lakely peddled the same pleasing line.
But Lakely s comments on Clark are badly inaccurateanother sign of the way pseudo-conservative new orgs like Fox have turned war-time reporting into pure propaganda. Was McInerney virtually alone in predicting a quick defeat? Did Clark regularly predict a longer and more difficult battle for control of Baghdad than actually unfolded? Sorry. What did Clark actually say on these matters? On February 17, Clark was asked how long the war would last. His crystal ball was quite bullish: two weeks:
WOLF BLITZER (2/17/03): If there is a warwe dont know if there will bebut if there is a war, how long do you think, based on what you know, it will last?Clark predicted a two-week war, and correctly said that American troops would quickly move north into Baghdad.
In short, McInerney was not the only general predicting an easy triumph. (In fact, everyone predicted such an outcome, including Bill Clinton.) But did Clark go soft when things went bad? By March 31roughly speaking, Day 11rear-guard actions were hurting the drive on Baghdad. Three days earlier, General William S. Wallace had said, on the record, that the campaign was going to take a pause. Did Clark begin to whimper and moan? Sorry. Speaking again with Blitzer, he said the events were no big deal:
BLITZER (3/31/03): Coalition forces seem to be increasingly threatened by so-called guerrilla fighters, evidenced by this weekends suicide bombing that killed four American soldiers. Were seeing more of the so-called martyr brigades as well General Clark, what do you make of this potential threat? Its not a potential threat, its a very real threat to coalition forces.In fact, Clark repeatedly criticized those who were knocking the coalitions war plan. On April 1, for example, he said this to Blitzer (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/11/03):
CLARK (4/1/03): I think its very unfair and difficult for anyone to criticize a war plan without ever having been involved in the planning process and knowing whats going on. This happened to me when I was commanding in Kosovo, and there were people back here sharp-shooting They didnt understand what was going to behind the scenes.Clark routinely stated this viewpoint. Lets say it again: Clark routinely challenged those who were slamming the Cent Com plan.
Weird, isnt it? Lakely and Kondracke were massively wrong about what Clark actually said. And what was the source of their disinformation? Duh. The pair of pundits were peddling spin for the tough-talking tinpot, Tom Delay. On April 3, DeLay appeared on Inside Politicsand started the nasty sliming of Clark. You can probably guess why he did it:
DELAY (4/3/03): Frankly, what irritates me the most are these blow-dried Napoleons that come on television and, in some cases, have their own agendas. Theyre not involved in daily briefings. Theyre not involved in the Command Center. Theyre not on the ground.Translation:
Sadly, Kondracke has become a bought-and sold man. Over at the Washington Times, James G. Lakelya brave, bold manknew who to lie about also.
TOMORROW: What did Wallace actually say? Press critics have been quite selective.