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What Murtha Really Said

Previously we noted a controversial speech by Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) at a town hall meeting in Miami, FL, June 24, 2006. Elizabeth Baier, the reporter on the story, was forced by her editors at the Sun-Sentinel to do a hatchet job (or it was done for her) on the story in the face of an organized effort led by well funded liberal groups like Media Matters and Think Progress, and Murtha's office that he was misquoted.

Here is the retracted first paragraph, as originally reported.

MIAMI -- American presence in Iraq is more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea or Iran, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said to an audience of more than 200 in North Miami Saturday afternoon.

Well we now have the video tape from the event, and Murtha's words can speak for themselves. Going into the clip (transcript below), Murtha was discussing Abu Ghraib and the McCain torture legislation.

Just think what that does to us internationally.

On the debate on the floor of the House, and I was leading the debate on the floor, and this one fella says, "You talk about terrorism." He says, "Ask Spain."

Well you ask Spain. Fifty six percent of the people in Spain think it's more dangerous, the United States is more dangerous in Iraq than Iran is.

Everyone of our allies think that the United States being in Iraq is more dangerous to world stability and world peace, every one of our allies; Great Britain, every single country... They think its more, uh, we're more dangerous to world peace than North Korea or Iran.

That says something.

Notice anything missing?

Well for starters there's absolutely no reference whatsoever to the Pew Research report Murtha's office claims he was quoting. Here's what Murtha had to say about the speech after the firestorm started:

I was recently misquoted following a speech I gave at a Veterans forum at the Florida International University Biscayne Campus on June 24, 2006. During the speech, I made a point that our international credibility was suffering, particularly due to our continued military presence in Iraq and that we were perceived as an occupying force. For illustrative purposes, I provided the example of a recent Pew Poll which indicates a greater percentage of people in 10 of 14 foreign countries consider the U.S. in Iraq a danger to world peace than consider Iran or North Korea a danger to world peace.

The substance of Baier's first paragraph, the one her editors made her pull, is pretty well supported by the transcript and video. What's missing is the context of the remark, which is the only correction the Sun-Sentinel should have made. Had they simply added the words, "The whole world" to the beginning of the paragraph they would have captured the essence of the speech and the context of the remark.

Miami Herald reporter Melissa Sanchez (who also covered the event), was quoted by Murtha's office characterizing the Baier quote thusly: "That was in reference to international polls. It was not so much his own conjecture, but a conclusion drawn from polls in various countries." Sanchez did not mention this section of the speech at all in her reporting.

Now obviously an audience wouldn't suspect that the 56% number was pulled out of thin air, but his further generalizations are pretty sweeping, and do give the impression that in Murtha shares the opinion. And again, there's no mention of international polls or the Pew Report.

I defy you to watch the whole video and come to the conclusion that Murtha doesn't agree with world opinion. In fact in his closing he states that he's counting on it to push his pullout scenario.

The revised story at the Sun-Sentinel is an amalgamation of the original report and the Murtha press release, in short a disaster.

Perhaps they would like to give it one more shot, and just report what Murtha said...

Update: Will the Sun-Sentinel revise their story yet again? And a better question is why did they do a hatchet job on the original story, introducing information directly from Murtha and his supporters into the coverage, with no sourcing? They hung their own reporter out to dry. At this point the story is less about the content of Murtha's remarks than the campaign by David Brock's, Soros-funded Media Matters, and others to change the reporting of the story without providing all the facts.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference What Murtha Really Said:

» America's North Shore Journal linked with Murtha Madness Redux

» The Violence Worker! linked with Murtha Must Go Part II

» Joust The Facts linked with Mr. Murtha's Strange History, Stranger Proposal

» Old War Dogs linked with Murtha's comments exposed

» Murdoc Online linked with Correction to the Murtha correction

» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Bush seeks united stand against N. Korea

» MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy linked with What did Murtha REALLY say in Miami?

» Dean's World linked with Misquoting Murtha?

» The Queen of All Evil linked with Murtha Never Changes

» Sierra Faith linked with Idiot Watch

» BLACKFIVE linked with I question your patriotism

Comments (23)

Only one conclusion, Murtha... (Below threshold)

Only one conclusion, Murtha is on Rove's payroll.

"We have seen in the last d... (Below threshold)

"We have seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier who is ready to wage Cold Wars and unprepared to fight long wars. This was proven in Beirut when the Marines fled after two explosions. It also proves they can run in less than 24 hours, and this was also repeated in Somalia.

. . .

After leaving Afghanistan, the Muslim fighters headed for Somalia and prepared for a long battle, thinking that the Americans were like the Russians. The youth were surprised at the low morale of the American soldiers and realized more than before that the American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few blows, ran in defeat. America forgot all the hoopla and media propaganda about being the world leader and the leader of the New World Order, and after a few blows they forgot about this title and left, dragging their corpses and their shameful defeat.

Osama Bin Laden, 1998 Interview with John Miller of ABC News


"The thing that disturbed me and worries me about this whole thing is we can't get them to change direction. And I said over and over in debate, if you listen to any of it, in Beirut President Reagan changed direction, in Somalia President Clinton changed direction, and yet here, with the troops out there every day, suffering from these explosive devices, and being looked at as occupiers -- 80 percent of the people want us out of there."

Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), CNN's The Situation Room, June 16, 2006


"Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them."

George Santayana

kevino, that's hardly fair.... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

kevino, that's hardly fair. You'll have the BDS trolls heads exploding all over the left side of the comments section. The ones who forgot to wear their blinders, anyway.

[another pin drops on left,... (Below threshold)

[another pin drops on left, but expect distracting pseudo arguments to arrive in 3..2..1..]

St. Murtha engages in the t... (Below threshold)

St. Murtha engages in the typical politicians' conceit of quoting the opinions of others instead of stating one's own. That way you can always go back and say "I didn't say that."

Plausible denial trumps personal integrity every time, especially amongst The Left.

Nice work, kevino. ... (Below threshold)

Nice work, kevino. Expect outrage from the usual suspects tout suite.

Leftoids are clueless. At a... (Below threshold)

Leftoids are clueless. At a liberal 4th of July party, celebrated on the 2nd of course, a 40ish lib stated she was more afraid of Southern Christans then terrors here in HI.

Murtha is certainly weird but he keeps getting elected...

serfer62:<bloc... (Below threshold)


Leftoids are clueless. At a liberal 4th of July party, celebrated on the 2nd of course, a 40ish lib stated she was more afraid of Southern Christans then terrors here in HI.
When terrorist exist in theory, and not in one's reality, such statements are not surprising. Pathetic, but nor surprising.
"One must not judge everyon... (Below threshold)
Robb H:

"One must not judge everyone in the world by his qualities as a soldier:
otherwise we should have no civilization."
- Field Marshal Erwin Rommel

I frankly don't care if a bartender in Barcelona think's America's military is mean.

KevinYou wonder wh... (Below threshold)


You wonder why the SunSen has been butchering their article all over the place?

Ever since I started posting on this subject I've had one particular commenter telling me breathlessly that the SunSen was going to repudiate their story and reporter..and part of the credit should go to him and "his friend" at theinfozone.net ... for the immediate email flooding of the SunSen and the AZ star.

I just noticed, going back to Murtha's press release, that it, too, was revised. It used to have a link to the "coverage" of this issue to theinfozone.net.


What absolute nonsense.... (Below threshold)

What absolute nonsense.

The original piece clearly represented Mutha's remarks as HIS OPINION.

His remarks were, however, clearly an accurate comment on what others in the world think.

The fact that he didnt mention Pew does not obscure the obvious point that he was referring to the opinion of people around the world (something that can only come from a poll).

Murtha is recounting this information not becuase he believes it himself, but because he knows it is a true fact about the fate of America's image in the world - part of the monstrously incompetent "leadership" of the free world that has been exercised by the incumbent.

You have presented all the evidence necessary to undermine your own point. But for some reason, you cant put two and two together in your own mind. What is it, Liberal Derangement Syndrome?

Murtha is recounting thi... (Below threshold)

Murtha is recounting this information not becuase he believes it himself

Really? Care to point out where he says that?

I mean, even Dean the Scream when doing the ::wink::wink::nod:::nod:: to the extreme 9/11 Conspiracists in his party about GW being responsible for 9/11 said "now it's ONLY a theory."

Murtha has been hoisted by teh tape.

Own it.

Tano is almost right.... (Below threshold)

Tano is almost right.

Murtha said that others consider our presence in Iraq dangerous.

Whether he personally believes it was unstated. He may well have meant "look what crazy fears our grandstanding has caused."

Reporters should report what was actually said. Aren't you tired of hearing what Mr. Bush "meant" instead of what he said?

Murtha is a loon and a jerk, but the retracted paragraph was indeed not accurate reporting.

"You have presented all ... (Below threshold)

"You have presented all the evidence necessary to undermine your own point. But for some reason, you cant put two and two together in your own mind. What is it, Liberal Derangement Syndrome?"

No, Tano, this group just flat out doesn't care about the truth. They think if they repeat lies over and over someone, somewhere, will believe them. After all, they themselves were gullible enough to believe in Bush and Cheney - that should tell you everything you need to know about their intelligence level.

I'm with Sam. I have a low... (Below threshold)
Mark G:

I'm with Sam. I have a low opinion of Rep. Murtha, but the retracted paragraph was not a fair paraphrase of his remarks. And Murtha's claim that he was referring to the Pew survey is entirely plausible: his citation of a 56% figure for Spain matches the survey, which came out shortly before Murtha's remarks, and was generating lots of buzz on the Left. The worst you can say about Murtha (and it's fairly bad) is that he wants us to change our defense policies so that we are pleasing to European lefties.

Lee,You are projecti... (Below threshold)

You are projecting again.

"pucker puss" (lee lee ) co... (Below threshold)

"pucker puss" (lee lee ) commenting on "truth"!!!!!!

I can see it now .. Republi... (Below threshold)

I can see it now .. Republicans don't lose badly enough in November .. Pelosi loses her Minority Leader job to Murtha, the new king of PR ineptitude.

Dems lose in 2008. Rove retires with a smile.

Mark G:I disagree.... (Below threshold)

Mark G:

I disagree. The worst you can say about Rep. Murtha is that he wants us to change our defense policies so that we are aiding al-Qaeda strategy, particularly their recruiting messages to young Muslims.

Here is a fundamental truth from Robert Audrey: "Wars start because one side thinks they can win." In order to get young Muslims to enlist in fighting the West in general and the US in particular, you have to convince them that their side can win. Islamic extremists like bin Laden do this by convincing the Arab Street that the US is much weaker than it appears. The message is: when US soldiers start coming home in body bags, the US will give up and bug out.

And what is it that Rep. Murtha and Sen. Kerry are proposing? They are proposing that the United States do exactly what bin Laden said that we would do.

I can assure you, there are... (Below threshold)

I can assure you, there are a whole lot more things going on behind the scenes with this story than have yet been reported, anywhere. Quite a few people far beyond Ms Baier and her editor Ms Rosenhause have shot themselves in the foot.

Cliff Hancuff
The World Of Journalism Is Flat, Too

kevino:"Wars start... (Below threshold)


"Wars start because one side thinks they can win."
Why did the US think this was (is) a winnable war?
What brainiac thought we could turn a country of opposing theocrat extremists into a democracy at the point of a gun?

"Islamic extremists like bin Laden do this by convincing the Arab Street that the US is much weaker than it appears."
Osama stated before the war he wanted to demonstrate that the US are imperialist agressors that want to steal their oil and spread christianity. Apparently the bastard was right.

Looking at the large number... (Below threshold)

Looking at the large number of blog posts I've placed throughout the blogsphere in the last 2 weeks, I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking they look like spam.

My apologies to all.

Some interesting happened today. I received an email response from Bill Pasco(e) of Diana Irey's campaign against John Murtha for the 12th District of Pennsylvania seat in the House of Representatives.

In responding Mr. Pascoe's email, I found it useful to CC that response to him to Elizabeth Baier and her editor Ms. Rosenhause (Managing Editor Sun-Sentinel).

The topic of those emails was "Rovian Architecture Unplugged". If you are interested to learn more, feel free to write them.

Make "Rovian Architechure Unplugged" your subject heading so they know what your inquiry is about.

Their email addresses:

Bill Pascoe [email protected]

Elizabeth Baier [email protected]

Sharon Rosenhause [email protected]

Cliff Hancuff
The World of Journalism Is Flat, Too

Despite an email warning to... (Below threshold)

Despite an email warning to Mr. Pasco to contact Sharon Rosenhause, Managing Editor at the Sun-Sentinel, irey.com continues to maintain this page.

"Is Murtha channeling Marty McFly? Congressman's June 27 press release magically includes information from ... June 28?"


In my email exchange with Mr. Pasco yesterday he attempted to float this clever headline with me in an email. I responded to him with this:

If you really want to follow this "rapid crash journalism" course of action of yours, let me assist you in doing so properly. This is John Murtha's original press release issued by Cindy Abram on June 27th.

You can understand why Cindy Abram updated Mr. Murtha's press release from the 27th now, I presume. After all, most would conclude that the Sun-Sentinel, who created this mess to start with, was in a better position to fix what Elizabeth Baier broke than theinfozone.net.

Please note: Ms. Baier as well as her editor Ms. Rosenhause are recipients of this email.

Mr Pasco(sic), perhaps they will be gracious enough to assist you towards a more lucid understanding of your "Marty McFly" insight.

Apparently Mr. Bill Pascoe puts more faith in continuing his slander strategy than makes sense.

Ms Rosenhause has her own special part in this. The Sun-Sentinel has removed their retraction ... the correction that rewrote the "the shot heard around the world" first paragraph. The Sun-Sentinel has suddenly placed it in their paid archives, removing it from public domain. The only way you will find the unethical rewrite (still in public domain) is through google cache. You may wish to contact her as well.

For the sake of clarity, inquiries regarding THIS turn of events should include the Subject Line: Mr. Bill

Bill Pascoe
[email protected]
phone: (724) 258-2300

Sharon Rosenhause
[email protected]
phone: (954) 425-1200

Cliff Hancuff
The World of Journalism Is Flat, Too






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