Appearance Alert
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NBC Cues Up Talking Points for Daschle, Pounds at Richard Myers --11/12/2003


1. NBC Cues Up Talking Points for Daschle, Pounds at Richard Myers
NBC's Today this week went soft on a politician but hit hard at a military man. On Monday, Matt Lauer tossed a series of softballs to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, prompting him to agree with criticisms of Bush policy and to praise the Democratic presidential candidates. The next morning, however, Katie Couric marked Veterans day by criticizing the war effort as she pounded at Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers on a political level, raising the lack of weapons of mass destruction, noting declining support as casualties rise and demanding that he defend the Bush administration's "effort to control the images from the war."

2. CNN's Zahn Tries to Ascribe Anti-Pentagon Views to Jessica Lynch
CNN's Paula Zahn attempted and failed to put anti-Pentagon talking points in former POW Jessica Lynch's mouth. During the Monday night edition of Paula Zahn Now, she proposed to Time magazine's Nancy Gibbs, who was on to discuss her interview with Lynch featured in the November 17 issue of the magazine: "She feels quite used by the U.S. government, does she not?" When Gibbs rejected the characterization, Zahn remained undeterred and issued another claim which Gibbs also undermined. Zahn maintained that Lynch "has also made it quite clear she's resentful" of how imagery of her rescue was used "to support the war effort."

3. Apolitical Rooney Refutes Pre-War Bush Claims Bush Never Made
"I am not really a conservative or a liberal," CBS's Andy Rooney ludicrously claimed when CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday afternoon asked him about reaction to a 60 Minutes commentary in which Rooney recited a speech he proposed President Bush would give in which he'd retract a lot of the things he said before the war. Rooney, however, had shot down claims, about Hussein possessing nuclear weapons and being responsible for 9-11, which Bush had never made. Rooney did at least concede that Bush is "a little too conservative for me."

4. MSNBC's Arnot Contradicts Media Image of Iraq in Violent Chaos
Bob Arnot, who rarely appears on NBC News programs, popped up Monday night on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews to contradict the image of chaos in Iraq hyped by the media. Launching Hardball's week-long series, "Iraq: The Real Story," Arnot recounted the challenges faced by troops in hostile areas, but countered the negative image of the Iraqi situation he knows Americans get from TV news. Arnot argued: "The fact is in 85 percent of the country, it's calm, it's stable, it's moving forward." Touring a shopping area, Arnot relayed how, "from what you see on TV from Baghdad you'd think that, with the mortars and rockets, that this was a city under siege." In fact, he contended, "nothing could be further from the truth in many neighborhoods."


NBC Cues Up Talking Points for Daschle,
Pounds at Richard Myers

NBC's Today this week went soft on a politician but hit hard at a military man. On Monday, Matt Lauer tossed a series of softballs to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, prompting him to agree with criticisms of Bush policy and to praise the Democratic presidential candidates. The next morning, however, Katie Couric marked Veterans day by criticizing the war effort as she pounded at Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers on a political level, raising the lack of weapons of mass destruction, noting declining support as casualties rise and demanding that he defend the Bush administration's "effort to control the images from the war."

Lauer failed to raise with Daschle the unprecedented Senate Democratic strategy to use cloture votes to deny up or down votes on some judicial nominees, a subject in the news this week because of GOP plans to launch a one-day filibuster to showcase it. Instead, Lauer asked Daschle to confirm if Al Gore's attack on the Bush administration was "valid" and Lauer was "curious if you agree that the Bush administration used the war on terror and the war in Iraq as an excuse to make a power grab for our civil liberties?" Lauer helpfully summarized Daschle's answer: "So a little bit smoke and mirrors. In other words, put our attention, the people's attention on one thing and then take away liberties in the other direction."

As if he would say no, Lauer wondered if any of the Democratic presidential candidates has "distinguished himself or herself to the point where they show the vision and leadership it's going to take to win the nomination?"

But the next morning, after going gently on Daschle, Today treated Myers as if he were a politician. Couric noted the escalating attacks and high number of deaths and then cited poll numbers as she declared that "support for the war itself seems to be waning." She brought up the lack of weapons of mass destruction and demanded: "Currently the Bush administration is prohibiting the media from covering flag-draped coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base. Is this an effort to control the images from the war and, and ergo control public opinion?"

-- Today, Monday November 10. Couric, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, plugged the upcoming segment: "Al Gore is putting the President on trial these days and so are a number of other Democrats. This morning Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle will be here to tell us why Democrats are turning up the heat against the Bush administration."

Lauer set up his session with Daschle: "On 'Close Up' this morning a war of words over the war on terror. Tom Daschle is the Senate Minority Leader and the author of a brand new book called, Like No Other Time: The 107th Congress and the Two Years That Changed America Forever. Senator Daschle good morning, good to have you here."

Lauer's "questions" in the form of talking point cues:

# "I don't normally interview a politician and say let's start by talking about what another politician said but Al Gore, former Vice President, former presidential candidate over the weekend gave a speech and he was extremely critical of the President in the war on terror and the war on, against Iraq. Let me take a look at the clip, we'll talk about it on the other side."
Gore: "In my opinion it makes no more sense assault to launch an assault on our civil liberties as the best way to get at terrorists than it did to launch an invasion of Iraq as the best way to get at Osama Bin Laden."
Lauer: "Criticism valid, in your opinion?"

# "So would you like to repeal the Patriots Act?"

# "The accusation is a very intense one. The Vice President is suggesting, and I'm curious if you agree, that the Bush administration used the war on terror and the war in Iraq as an excuse to make a power grab for our civil liberties. Do you agree with that?"
Daschle: "Well I think they did make an excuse. To a large extent they, they created this campaign to, to, to bolster their, their standing in the polls, to bolster their political support around the country. And they use these devices, I think, to, to, a certain extent intimidate people. To recognize, I think that, that, that perhaps using this as a vehicle was a way to enhance their own standings."
Lauer helpfully summarized: "So a little bit smoke and mirrors. In other words, put our attention, the people's attention on one thing and then take away liberties in the other direction."
Daschle agreed: "That's the point, that's the point. And that goes all the way back to when we debated this in the first place. That we talk about in the book."

# "The Congress recently passed the $87 billion request for the war on terror and the reconstruction of Iraq. In the Senate it was a voice vote, why?....But it makes it harder to know who actually said yes and who actually said no."

# "Okay. That would mean, I would imagine, you wouldn't spend $87 billion of the taxpayer's money frivolously if you didn't think it was going to be spent efficiently. Are you comfortable with the way it's going to be spent?....You signed a letter actually, along with some other Democrats urging the President to push for a Constitution in Iraq and, and, and move up a certain definitive timetable. Could you have separated out that $22 billion and, and been happy with the $65 but, 'wait a second, Mr. President, I'm not gonna vote on this $22 billion.'"

# "Nine candidates for the Democratic nomination for President right now. Has any of those candidates, in your opinion Senator Daschle, distinguished himself or herself to the point where they show the vision and leadership it's going to take to win the nomination?"

# "In the book you talk about the best and worst moments of the last couple of years of the 107th Congress. The best was when Jim Jeffords crossed the line, became a Democrat and abandoned the Republican party. The worst, you say, was election of 2002 where the Democrats lost control of the Senate. Have Democrats recovered sufficiently from that loss moving into the 2004 presidential election?"

Lauer wrapped up: "Senator Tom Daschle. And I want to tell people if they want to read an excerpt from your book, No Other Time, you can visit our Web site at today.msnbc.com. Come back and visit us."

-- Today, Tuesday November 11. Couric set up the segment: "On 'Close Up' this morning, Veterans Day. General Richard Myers is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Myers, good morning. Thanks so much for joining us."

Her questions to him:

# "Lots to talk about on this Veterans Day. Obviously much of it concerning Iraq. There have been 152 soldiers killed in action since May 1st which was, marked the end of, of major combat operations. Prior to that date 114 U.S. soldiers were killed in action. While American support, General, for the troops overseas, I believe, remains strong support for the war itself seems to be waning. In the most recent Newsweek poll that was published this week 51 percent of the American people disapprove of the way the President is handling Iraq with only 42 percent approving. What can you say to the American people, this morning that, or what reasons can you give for this war being worth the cost and sacrifice?"

# "But General Myers having said that obviously attacks against U.S. troops have accelerated significantly in recent weeks. And surely as a military man these deaths to you are unacceptable. What can be done to prevent so many U.S. soldiers from losing their lives?"

# "General Myers do you have plans to reconstitute portions of the Iraqi military as well?"

# "As you mentioned, excuse me, top military leaders in Iraq are reevaluating their strategy. I know yesterday coalition forces used warplanes to bomb targets for the first time in months in conjunction with tanks on the ground. Do you think that we're going to see a restart of the ground war?"

# "Recently Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said quote, 'The fact that Saddam Hussein is alive is unhelpful.' Where is Saddam Hussein and what is being done to apprehend him?"

# "Currently the Bush administration is prohibiting the media from covering flag-draped coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base. Is this an effort to control the images from the war and, and ergo control public opinion?"

# "And finally when you were with us General, last Memorial Day, you expressed confidence that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction would be found and except for scant evidence of some kind coalition forces have not been able to locate them. Are you still confident?"

# Couric wrapped up: "General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As always General Myers we so appreciate your joining us this morning. Thank you so much."
Despite Couric's political agenda, Myers credited Couric with something she did not do: "Thank you Katie for remembering our heroes."

While ABC's Charles Gibson posed challenging questions to Myers on Good Morning America on Tuesday morning, he at least related his Veteran Day questions to the plight of the troops. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson took down his questions:

# "General, this is the first time since the Vietnam War that on a Veterans Day we've had so many soldiers in harm's way. Your feeling about this day."

# "Can you honestly say that you expected this, with so many soldiers in this situation six months, more than six months after hostilities officially ended?"

# "So we come to this Veterans Day a year from now. Can you tell parents of American soldiers that this force will be reduced on Veterans Day 2004, that many of the kids will be home?"

CNN's Zahn Tries to Ascribe Anti-Pentagon
Views to Jessica Lynch

CNN's Paula Zahn attempted and failed to put anti-Pentagon talking points in former POW Jessica Lynch's mouth. During the Monday night edition of Paula Zahn Now, she proposed to Time magazine's Nancy Gibbs, who was on to discuss her interview with Lynch featured in the November 17 issue of the magazine: "She feels quite used by the U.S. government, does she not?" When Gibbs rejected the characterization, Zahn remained undeterred and issued another claim which Gibbs undermined. Zahn maintained that Lynch "has also made it quite clear she's resentful" of how imagery of her rescue was used "to support the war effort."

For Gibbs' interview with Lynch in Time: www.time.com

[MRC analyst Ken Shepherd submitted a draft of this item for CyberAlert]

Zahn started out by asking if Lynch had cleared up any misconceptions in their interview: "What did you learn from spending time with the family that we didn't know before? Any misconceptions cleared up?"
Gibbs replied: "There are a lot. There's one that I think she's really intent on clearing up, which is one that has caused her some pain, the whole story we heard of the sort of Rambo warrior who went down fighting, fired off all her ammunition, fought to the death. She's brutally honest that that bears no resemblance to what she did."
Seizing on this Zahn prodded: "And she feels quite used by the U.S. government, does she not?"
Gibbs clarified: "What she feels bad about is that people came away with an impression that she was something other than she was. She said, you know: 'I didn't fire my weapon. It jammed. I couldn't do anything to defend my comrades.' Everyone else who was in that Humvee with her the day it was ambushed died. She's the only one who survived. And it's very painful for her to have discovered when she came back that she was getting credit as being some great heroine or great warrior who had fought so fiercely, when she didn't. I think she's quite determined to set that record straight."
Zahn then insisted: "She has also made it quite clear she's resentful of the fact, is she not, that this imagery was somehow used to -- I guess, she has alleged, to support the war effort?"
Gibbs corrected Zahn: "I think that may be going too far. There's nothing she said in all the time we spent with her that was negative about anything other than the very specific intelligence reports about the role that she had played. She views the Army and she views particularly the guys who came in and retrieved her from the hospital as her heroes. She says the idea that this was staged or this was phony or this was all for propaganda is crazy: They got me out. And she is so thankful that they did. And that's the other thing I think that she wants to make clear. All the reports that -- we asked her, did you hear reports that maybe that rescue wasn't what it seemed to be? And she said: 'I was there. I know what happened. And those guys are heroes.'"

That popping sound you hear is Zahn's bubble bursting.

Apolitical Rooney Refutes Pre-War Bush
Claims Bush Never Made

"I am not really a conservative or a liberal," CBS's Andy Rooney ludicrously claimed when CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday afternoon asked him about reaction to a 60 Minutes commentary in which Rooney recited a speech he proposed President Bush would give in which he'd retract a lot of the things he said before the war. Rooney, however, had shot down claims, about Hussein possessing nuclear weapons and being responsible for 9-11, which Bush had never made. Rooney did at least concede that Bush is "a little too conservative for me."

On the November 2 60 Minutes, Rooney proposed, for instance, that Bush now admit: "One of the reasons we invaded Iraq was because I suggested Saddam Hussein had something to do with the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. No evidence that's so, so I wish I hadn't said it."

But Bush never said any such thing.

Rooney also urged Bush to grant: "I probably shouldn't have said Iraq had nuclear weapons. Our guys and the U.N. have looked under every bed in Iraq and can't find one."

Again, Bush never said Iraq had nuclear weapons, only that Hussein was pursuing efforts to obtain the substances and parts needed to produce them.

Rooney went on to make a blatant political point about how the war is somehow hurting education: "I promised to leave no child behind when it comes to education. Then I asked for an additional $87 billion for Iraq. $87 billion has to come from somewhere. I hope the kids aren't going to have to pay for it -- now in school or later when they're your age."

(On the October 12 60 Minutes, Rooney delivered a commentary in which he lectured President Bush about how he looked "arrogant" in not showing enough respect for the UN and how "too many of our guys are dying" in Iraq because of Bush's "mistake" in not getting Un pre-approval for invading Iraq. See the October 13 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org )

Rooney on Tuesday stopped by CNN to plug his new book, Years of Minutes, and during the 5pm EST Wolf Blitzer Reports Blitzer wrapped up the interview by asking: "You just wrote a controversial essay that caused some controversy, I guess, suggesting that President Bush might want to deliver a new speech to the American people and say, you know what? We got a lot of this stuff wrong going into the war with Iraq, the nuclear part, the terrorism part, and just sort of come clean. Among others things, you say: 'That was a mistake. I wish I hadn't said that. I get bad information sometimes, just like you do.' Have you gotten a lot of flack for that?"
Rooney acknowledged: "Yes. We got a lot of negative mail and a lot of phone calls, but we also got a lot of people saying it's the best thing I ever did. So it was about a tie."
Blitzer: "What do you think of President Bush?"
Rooney: "I plead the Fifth Amendment. He has a certain amount of boyish charm, I think. I said last night I don't think he's the smartest President we've ever had. But I don't think he thinks he is either. So that's in his favor. And I am not really a conservative or a liberal. But he's a little too conservative for me. I don't approve of his environmental direction and I don't approve of the tax cuts. But personally, I find him sort of charming."

So, he opposes Bush's conservative policies on foreign affairs, taxes and spending and the environment. On what issue area is Rooney "conservative"?

An excerpt from Rooney's November 2 commentary the text of which the MRC's Brian Boyd checked against the tape:

"Years ago, I was asked to write a speech for President Nixon. I didn't do that, but I wish President Bush would ask me to write a speech for him now. Here's what I'd write if he asked me to -- which is unlikely...:
"My fellow Americans. One of the reasons we invaded Iraq was because I suggested Saddam Hussein had something to do with the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. No evidence that's so, so I wish I hadn't said it.
"I said we were going to get Saddam Hussein. To be honest, we don't know whether we got him or not. Probably not.
"I said we'd get Osama bin Laden and wipe out al Qaeda. Haven't been able to do that, either. I'm as disappointed as you are.
"I probably shouldn't have said Iraq had nuclear weapons. Our guys and the U.N. have looked under every bed in Iraq and can't find one.
"In one speech, I told you Saddam Hussein tried to buy the makings of nuclear bombs from Africa. That was a mistake and I wish I hadn't said that. I get bad information sometimes just like you do.
"On May 1st, I declared major combat was over and gave you the impression the war was over. I shouldn't have declared that. Since then, 215 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq. As the person who sent them there, how terrible do you think that makes me feel?...
"When I landed on the deck of the carrier, I wish they hadn't put up the sign saying 'Mission Accomplished.' It isn't accomplished. Maybe it should have been 'Mission Impossible.' I've made some mistakes and I regret it. Let me just read you excerpts from something my father wrote five years ago in his book, A World Transformed: 'I firmly believed we should not march into Baghdad ...To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us and make a broken tyrant, into a latter-day Arab hero' -- this is my father writing this -- 'assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a securely entrenched dictator and condemning them to fight in what would be an unwinnable urban guerrilla war.'
"We should all take our father's advice.
"That's the speech I'd write for President Bush. No charge."

A week later, Rooney talked about negative and positive reaction to his commentary from the week before and after playing some phone messages to him, he maintained: "I don't know whether you think I'm a liberal or a conservative, a Republican or a Democrat. Whatever you think, you're probably wrong. I tend to be more liberal than conservative, but don't count on it. I'm not middle-of-the-road. I'm all over the road.
"I wish Americans weren't so viciously biased, though. We're all so nasty talking politics.
"If people disagree with the President, why do they have to hate him? George W. Bush is not an evil person. I don't think he's the smartest President we ever had, but I doubt if he thinks he is either. He's doing what he thinks is right even if a lot of people think he's wrong.
"I actually know Democrats who felt terrible last week because the good news about the economy made President Bush look good. There are people taking satisfaction from the terrible news out of Iraq because that makes Bush look bad.
"One of the best things about our democracy has always been that when we elect someone, that's it. The losers accept the results. We just barely elected George W. Bush, but whether we voted for him or not, we accept him as our President."

But, apparently, we reserve the right to make up claims about what the President has said.

MSNBC's Arnot Contradicts Media Image
of Iraq in Violent Chaos

Bob Arnot Bob Arnot, who rarely appears on NBC News programs, popped up Monday night on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews to contradict the image of chaos in Iraq hyped by the media. Launching Hardball's week-long series, "Iraq: The Real Story," Arnot recounted the challenges faced by troops in hostile areas, but countered the negative image of the Iraqi situation he knows Americans get from TV news.

Arnot argued: "The real question is, given all the death and destruction that you see on television in the United States, what's the real deal out here? The fact is in 85 percent of the country, it's calm, it's stable, it's moving forward. You find a lot of places like Horia [sp?], where we were today, and Kadame [sp] where they actually like or even love Americans."

Touring a shopping area, Arnot relayed how, "from what you see on TV from Baghdad you'd think that, with the mortars and rockets, that this was a city under siege." In fact, he contended, "nothing could be further from the truth in many neighborhoods." Arnot sounded like a spokesman for the Baghdad Chamber of Commerce, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, as he admired the selection of merchandise available: "They also have here some of the latest fashions, they will tell you from Milan, Paris, and Damascus. Here's another store here, ladies clothing with jeans, the latest shoes, nice pocket books."

Arnot began with time in spent with some troops in an area where Americans are less welcome: "It had all the ingredients for disaster. A Sunni town, home to over 100,000 former Iraqi soldiers, 1,000 generals and dangerous terror cells. From this battle command center, the Army's 101st Air Assault Division has engineered what many thought impossible: local elections within weeks of the war's end; schools kept open; and Iraqi police training to get back on the street fast. Still while there was no major insurrection, there are now daily attacks on U.S. troops, with RPGs, improvised explosive devices, mortars, even rockets."
Unidentified officer: "It's been a tough couple weeks when you really look at it."
Arnot: "On the front lines, light infantry soldiers make up Strike Force. This is something that you may not have seen very often. That is a dismounted patrol. Colonel Joe Anderson is the commanding officer of the Second Brigade of the 101st Airborne. It looks pretty dicey out here."
Col. Joe Anderson, U.S. Army: "It, it potentially can be, because you don't know, you don't know friend from foe. So it's a lot of people and their primary focus is buying their stuff and getting on with business. But it's certainly an environment where anybody can get in there and do what they want to. It would be a hard thing to react to."
Arnot: "These patrols help keep the 101st engaged with the local population, a critical source of intelligence. Now, you have a lot of local support here. People turning in the bad guys. Why is that?"
Col. Anderson: "I think, I think people want to, they see progress; they're getting a pretty good taste of what democracy, freedom is all about. Their quality of life has gone up. I think people like that. And I think they like not being oppressed. So the average person will cooperate. It's just those that are still die-hards, which I think are the clear minority. But then again, they are resourced, and that makes, that can have an impact."
Arnot: "During our patrol, Colonel Anderson stops multiple times to consult with his commanders, who have grim reports from other parts of the city....Then the colonel learns there's a plan to assassinate him today. Later, inspecting the jail, he reluctantly agrees to discuss it."
Colonel Anderson: "I think I'd be a target for being kind of associated with a lot of the progress here based on our guys. So I'm the guy that commands the outfit, but a very public figure in terms of television, radio, papers, public forums, etc."
Arnot: "Unfazed, the colonel and his strike force continue to patrol Mosul's markets, on foot and far from help. What's the real deal? What's the real reality here in Iraq?"
Col. Anderson: "I think you just gave the real deal. I think the real deal is the people's quality of life here is better than it ever was. And they're enjoying it, and there's progress being made every day."

Matthews inquired of Arnot: "Bob, can our military locate, target and destroy our enemies over there right now?"
Arnot: "Well, they have a lot of help. They have been able to take 75 percent of the terrorists off the street in Mosul. What they're finding, especially after some of the big bombings like the RCIC, a lot more people are coming forward. They're like their 9/11 there. They really hate a lot of these guys. You have a number of different elements. At the very top, you have the old regime. They took two generals off the street in Fallujah the other day. Tens of millions of dollars to spend. The ominous thing is that they're finding the really bad neighborhoods have a combination of the Islamists, Wahhabis, Ansar al-Islam and the old regime. That's where you have the strange collusion that's sort of morphing into a quasi-Islamic revolution here. And at the bottom, just a bunch of bad guys. I talked to a General Dempsey the other day. He says right here in Baghdad, you only have about 10 or 12 bad cells. Each of those cells may have 10 to 20 people in it. But you have probably 2,000 bad guys at the bottom that are the real mobsters. I met last night with some of the top commanders here in the 101st Airborne. They are bound and determined to get these guys. They're getting a lot of good information. They're getting them on the street. A lot of smart moves. Abu Gray, where they have little Mogadishu, where they shoot down on U.S. forces with rocket propelled grenades, put improvised explosive devices by the side of the road, they actually had the locals take down the local marketplace. And they gave them new money to build that in a safer area. Chris, these commanders are absolutely in the fight of their lives. They're using every last bit of brainpower they have. It's a smart fight out here. It's an insurgency that there's no real sort of command and control that they can see at this point. Lots of different people coming at them. They're trying to win hearts and minds on the one hand. On the other hand, at night they're fighting these bad guys. Compound is not very far from here, Chris. These guys have eight to 10 mortars that come in every single night. They say it's the toughest, most complicated battle that the U.S. military has fought in generations."

Matthews: "Bob, would more troops help the effort?"
Arnot: "I don't really think so. I think the bottom line is you want to get more and more Iraqis out on the front. You're gonna see it in a couple days a great story here I did with the 17th Field Artillery. What they did is they went out and they hired ex-Republican Guards. They put them into a private security company. They play the national anthem. They have Iraqi colonels back out there. They have a great deal of pride in it. The more Iraqis you get out there in front of American soldiers, the better, whether it's the civilian defense corps or the police, they're training them. That's the real solution, is to get more out there and have terrific intelligence...."

Matthews: "Do the Iraqi people themselves know who is fighting us? In other words, are they a clearly identifiable group of people? The remnants of the, the, the government, the new Jihadists who have joined them. Do the people of Iraq, if you had them under interrogation, would they be able to say, 'The Rover behind that corner around there.' Would they know that? The people themselves?"
Arnot: "You know, a lot of people don't know that. I met last night one of the chief ayatollahs, one of the chief Shiah clerics here in the country and he said, 'Look, there are three different groups here we're concerned about. The Wahhabi, he basically believes there's command and control from Saudi Arabia. You have the ex-regime power brokers, as they call them right now. You have this sort of new Islamist morphing here, a very, very sort of fundamentalist movement....But by and large, in neighborhoods here, they see somebody strange, they don't know who they are. They're starting to report them. The bottom line is, get the Iraqi police and civil defense forces out there, because they know who the bad guys are. They recognize them. And they can turn them in faster than American forces can find him. But a huge, concerted effort here. Met with five colonels last night at their FOB, their forward operating base. And they are planning hard and fast to try and make this Bremer prediction not come true by getting these guys off the street."

Later in the show, Matthews asked Arnot: "Welcome back to Hardball and our week long coverage of 'Iraq: The Real Story.' What's life like for ordinary Iraqis? MSNBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent, Bob Arnot, has spent a lot of time among the people of Iraq. And he recently took a tour of downtown Baghdad, the shopping district, to see if life is returning to normal."
Arnot: "Chris, from what you see on TV from Baghdad, you'd think that, with the mortars and rockets, that this was a city under siege. Nothing could be further from the truth in many neighborhoods. Look at this. They've even painted the flower and tree boxes by the side of the street. They have late-model Mercedes and BMWs. Traffic is not much of a problem right here, right now. But during the day, they actually have a million more cars on the streets. You have lots of trucks coming in from Kuwait and Jordan with all kinds of products, some of it just fresh here out on the street. The latest model shoes, fashionable ones. They have posters here of all the rock stars. You can get a parka. A nice-looking shirt for your kids here. And look at the quality of the shops. Now, gold you can get here for a very reasonable price. This is 21-karat gold. And they have beautiful necklaces, bracelets, rings here, high-quality. Security is good enough that they can leave this window open the way that it is. Watches, some of them even from Switzerland, some of the latest models here."
[Speaks to shopkeeper in Arabic]
"Yes, American. Very, very, very friendly. I'll be back. Look at this, too, a lot of women in traditional dresses, Chris. But they also have here some of the latest fashions, they will tell you from Milan, Paris, and Damascus. Here's another store here, ladies clothing with jeans, the latest shoes, nice pocket books. You have nuts, lots of them, dates, all kinds of seeds. Here's a men's store. And, if you want to look pretty fashionable here in Mansour, they have these nice leather jackets."
[Greets shopkeeper in Arabic]
"Shoes, of course. Another men's store here. Again, a nice leisure suit, if you like those, leisure, leisure suits, I should say. And then finally, and this is my favorite place, the juice bar. Let's see what they have."

Arnot concluded: "So you'll find that people are friendly. They like Americans, by and large here. They're still very worried about their security. They're quite concerned about terrorists here coming into schools, very concerned about their houses being robbed. But when you ask them about a light at the end of the tunnel, they see it; 67 percent of people fully believe that in a year, things will be dramatically better. Chris, back to you."

The Iraqi people seem to be a lot more optimistic than most American journalists. Arnot is the exception that proves the rule.

For a bio and picture of Arnot: www.msnbc.com

-- Brent Baker