Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Tuesday, November 18, 2003  

Via a network of bloggers (link train below), we learned yesterday that Wes Clark and Fox News tangled on Sunday (or yesterday?). I've been a little hard on Clark, but the way he handled this exchange was extraordinary, and may offer a solution to the constant spin of the media. Listen (edited for brevity; link to full transcript below):

FOX: On the Meet the Press you said something about Iraq. You said "President Bush has said (the war in Iraq) is the centerpiece for the war on terror. It isn't. It's a sideshow. It's simply their easiest means of access to attack American soldiers. That's all it is." You really think that Iraq is only a sideshow?

CLARK: For the war on terror it's a terrible distraction and we should have gone directly after Osama Bin Laden. Let's be clear about what happened. This administration decided to go to war against Saddam Hussein, or at least to set all the plans in motion, while we were still bombing Afghanistan and when Tommy Franks should have been challenged to come up with the plans to finish the job against Osama Bin Laden. He was apparently preparing plans to brief the president and secretary of defense on Iraq. We let Osama bin Laden get away. He's there in the mountains of Western Pakistan. Newsweek magazine can find him. I don't know why we can't. And I propose we have a joint US-Saudi force to go after Osama bin Laden. Let's finish this job on terrorism.

FOX: Excuse me just one minute... I just want to add onto that. While our men and women are dying in Iraq is it proper to call it a sideshow?

CLARK: Our men and women in Iraq are doing a fabulous job. They're doing a great job. I love them. I respect them and I honor them and. My problem is with the president of the united states. He's the one responsible for this. As he told us. He was going to make the decision when to go to war. He did. Our men and women are doing everything their country has asked them to do. But for the war on terror it's not the right thing that we should ask them to do. Don't you dare twist words into disrespect for the men and women in uniform. I love those men and women. I gave 34 years of my life to them. You better take my words the right way...

FOX: One thing our military advisors have assured us is that there is nothing but respect that one should have for your military career and for your respect for those who are now in the military. As a father of a marine, we both share that respect for men and women in the military. So don't get me wrong on that. I just wanted to make clear what you mean by that statement which you made. I just quoted your own statement.

CLARK: I think you're trying to distort my meaning. I want to make it very clear, and I think you've said I made it clear. The sideshow is not the men and women in uniform. It is the leadership of the president of the united states who would get us into this. And I think we need to be very straight in covering this. I'm not afraid to say what's right and wrong in this country. And I'm speaking out, David. And I'm telling you this. That war in Iraq is a war that did not have to be fought.

FOX: All right, General, Again. We uh... We were just reading back your statements. I'm sorry you got so upset at.. at our having done that. But that's all we did. We didn't have any implication beyond that.

CLARK: You did have an implication. [unintelligble] I find it very unfair.

FOX: No, general. We were just trying to figure out what it was that you meant.

CLARK: Well you got it now.

What's remarkable here is that Clark managed two things: he understood 1) what was being misrepresented, and 2) why. Fox was playing the old "you ain't no stinkin' patriot" game, hoping Clark would back off his statements. I imagine it's hard in the moment to identify how you're being duped and respond to the smear behind the fake question (Dean's been caught a number of times). But Clark did exactly the right thing: he identified the smear, called Fox on it, and embarrassed them into backing off. I hope liberals and Democratic candidates take notice of this; it's a winning strategy to beating the slimeball tactics of Fox and Co.

Initial post: Josh Marshall
Calpundit update, with a link to
The Clark Sphere, with a transcription of the interview

posted by Jeff | 11:51 AM |
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