Weekend Watchdog:Newt’s Misstep

Bill Scher

Every Friday afternoon, Bill Scher posts on the Common Sense blog “Weekend Watchdog,” a list of questions that guests on the upcoming Sunday morning talk shows should be asked. Then each Monday, Bill handicaps how the media did. Here’s his latest look at Sunday’s talk shows.

Fox News’ Chris Wallace did ask Newt Gingrich about the contradiction between his criticism of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria and his past actions as speaker.

Wallace first asked, “When you were speaker, you made a number of foreign trips. You expressed opinions when you were overseas. So have other speakers. Is the outrage here basically political?”

Gingrich claimed there was a “huge difference” in their trips, and falsely stated: “She claimed to be carrying a diplomatic message from the Israeli prime minister which the Israeli prime minister promptly disowned and said she got it wrong.”

But the prime minister did not say Pelosi “got it wrong.”

His office issued a “clarification” which says: “In order to conduct serious and genuine peace negotiations, Syria must cease its support of terror … What was communicated to the U.S. House Speaker does not contain any change in the policies of Israel.”

Pelosi’s office said the same. The Chicago Tribune’s Frank James reported:

Pelosi’s spokesman, Brendan Daly, told me in a brief phone conversation: “We never said the (Israeli’s) position changed.” Instead, he said, Pelosi accurately conveyed Israel’s position: should the Syrians end their support for Hezbollah and Hamas, then the Israelis would be willing to talk.

Gingrich proceeded to say, “I think it’s very important not to have two foreign policies,” to which Wallace then noted when Gingrich misstated Clinton administration policy on Taiwan while in China.

Regarding the Prosecutor Purge, Chris Wallace did not ask Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., why, as the White House failed to respond to his compromise offer for private testimony with a transcript, the Judiciary Committee hasn’t issued subpoenas to compel testimony.

Schumer, though, continued to press for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ resignation.

Gingrich made news by calling for “a new team at the Justice Department.” However, like other conservatives, his complaint is only that Gonzales was sloppy in executing the purge, not that the purge happened.

Finally, on ABC’s This Week, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., was not asked about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s charge that a veto of the Iraq bill would keep in place a “strategy for failure.”

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., led the segment by offering to strip language mandating troop redeployments, while leaving in place toothless “benchmarks” for the Iraqi government.

In turn, the debate centered on whether the Iraqi government is moving toward meeting its own benchmarks, not on whether the Bush administration is pursuing strategic objectives supported by the public.

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