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MSNBC Pro-Bush town meeting

Fair is a Media Watch organization. They regularly send out action alerts informing the public of erroneous reporting in the news. This one covers a few comments from Chris Matthews the host of LowBall with Chris Matthews.
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
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ACTION ALERT:
MSNBC's Pro-Bush "Town Meeting"

June 29, 2005


After George W. Bush's June 28 speech about Iraq, MSNBC's Hardball
presented viewers with a decidedly skewed "town meeting" featuring a panel

dominated by Iraq war boosters.

The two-hour coverage, hosted by Chris Matthews, was anchored by a
panel discussion that featured MSNBC reporter Norah O'Donnell, Islam
scholar Reza Aslan, and four conservative Bush supporters: Tony Perkins of
the Family Research Council, MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, Bobbie Patray of
the Eagle Forum of Tennessee and Jerry Sutton, pastor of the Two Rivers
Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, where the event was held.

MSNBC's coverage also included interviews with Newsweek's Jon Meacham,
Democratic Sen. Joe Biden (who called for "more boots on the ground"),
and Republican senators John McCain and John Warner.

In other words, MSNBC's "town meeting" excluded forceful critics of the
Iraq war--a war that polls show most Americans no longer support, or
believe the White House is mismanaging.

MSNBC's O'Donnell was careful to note that while war critics were the
majority, "at the same time, a majority of Americans also believe that
we should stay and finish the job. Only 1 in 8 Americans believe that we
should cut and run. There are liberal groups like Moveon.org that say
we should get out. That's the minority in America. People think that we
should stay and finish the job." O'Donnell was apparently referring to
a Washington Post poll question (6/28/05) that asked about increasing
or decreasing troops, in which 13 percent of respondents wanted U.S.
troops to "withdraw immediately."

Most polls, however, show that support for withdrawing U.S. troops is
substantially higher than 13 percent. In response to another question
in the same poll, 41 percent said that the U.S. troops should be
withdrawn from Iraq. In a recent Gallup poll (6/8-12/05), 46 percent said
that the "U.S. should bring its troops home as soon as possible," while a
Harris poll (6/7-12/05) found 63 percent in favor of "bringing most of
our troops home in the next year."

Audience participation also tended to support Bush, causing host
Matthews to comment: "It's been a great group. As you can see, the people are
passionate. And they have strong patriotic beliefs and moral beliefs,
and yet it's been very nice here. No fights or anything." Of course,
having an unbalanced panel discussion makes it easy not to have any
"fights." Matthews also praised the audience for being supportive of Bush,
asking one guest: "Why do you think the people in this part of the
country seem to be more manifestly patriotic about this president, and this
war, and this situation? What do you think it is, the separation from
the coasts?"

Does Matthews really believe that supporting the Iraq war makes
citizens more "patriotic"? And is supporting a president the same as being
"patriotic about" the president? Were citizens who opposed President
Clinton being "unpatriotic" about him?

One member of the audience who disagreed with the consensus provided by
MSNBC was actually booed by the town meeting audience, causing Matthews
to remark: "Don't boo, now, please, ladies and gentlemen. It's been a
good night here. Howard Dean is going to come on our program tomorrow, a
different point of view. We have diversity run amok." Has it really
come to the point where having the leader of the Democratic National
Committee on TV qualifies as "diversity run amok"?


ACTION:
Contact MSNBC and tell them that serious discussion of the Iraq war
should include critics of that war. Ask Chris Matthews if he really thinks
war supporters and Bush supporters are more "patriotic."

CONTACT:
MSNBC
Hardball
 hardball@msnbc.com

Phone: (202) 583-5000

As always, please remember that your comments have more impact if you
maintain a polite tone.

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