Reporters are supposed to ask questions to elicit information, but Fox News White House reporter Bret Baier tried to make excuses for Vice President Dick Cheney's seeming endorsement of water boarding as a "no-brainer," when he asked White House Press Secretary Tony Snow about Cheney's statements.
The "Live Desk" started Thursday (October 27, 2006) with a portion of Snow's news briefing trying to control the damage from Cheney's remarks to a talk radio show host.
Baier posed this "question" to Snow:
"Back to the topic that we really started off and Jim's cynical question of the year, the president mentions every time he goes out on the campaign trail that Republicans are better at protecting American people than Democrats. He points to Democrats' votes on the CIA interrogation technique, the bill, moving it forward. Is it possible that the vice president was trying to make the point that somehow, this party, this administration, will do what it takes to protect the American people?”
Snow apparently did not get the drift of the question and did not bite, saying that the administration was not engaging in "a wink and a nod that we're going to back behind the door and just whack them.”
Baier then followed up, asking whether Bush or Cheney thinks water boarding is torture. That earned him Snow's repetition that the administration does not discuss specific torture techniques.
Baier's question embedded an editorial comment about what a great job Republicans are doing fighting terrorism, noting that "Republicans are better at protecting the American people than Democrats."
Why did Baier feel it necessary to suggest a motive for Cheney? Was he trying to justify what Cheney said? Was he trying to help out his former colleague Snow? None of those is his job.
And for the record, here's a demonstration of water boarding, shown on MSNBC's "Countdown" on Friday. It's far from the harmless "washcloth on the face" procedure Fox News has been portraying it as, as it is designed tomake a person think he or she is drowning by nearly drowning him.