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FOX News Hypes Dubious Connection Between Lebanon Fighting And Iran To Promote War On Iran

Newshounds | May 22, 2007 
NICOLE COLSON

I'm beginning to suspect that FOX News honchos Roger Ailes and John Moody look for excuses to foment hatred against Iran and whip up public fervor for military action the same way the Bush administration did with Iraq. Last night (5/21/07), Hannity & Colmes encouraged former Ambassador to the UN John Bolton to conjure up enough flim-flam to transform the fighting in Lebanon into a terrorism threat from Iran. With video.

It was pretty clear from the start that turning the Lebanon fighting into a discussion about Iran was no vagary of Bolton's train of thought but a deliberate attempt by the FOX News producers to steer the audience attention in that direction.

Bolton wasted little time coming to his point. “Syria, quite possibly with help from Iran, obviously now trying to torque up the pressure on (Lebanon's Prime Minister) Siniora.” I searched several articles on the fighting and found no connection to Iran reported anywhere else. Bolton continued his hypothetical scenario: “If the government of Lebanon falls, it could be taken over by Hezbollah. You'd have a terrorist state then on Israel's northern border. One very closely tied and financed in fact by Syria and Iran.”

Bolton's “possibilities” were presented in such a way as to lead the audience to believe it was a likelihood. Yet neither host asked any questions about his dubious assertions.

Hannity offered Bolton the opportunity to take the hostility one step further. “Let's talk about this cause Syria obviously hosting a number of Palestinian militant groups… We know a lot of the funding similarly, Ambassador, coming from Iran. You've had some very strong statements in recent days about the Iranians and about their potential nuclear facility here. If we want to get to the root cause of this, Ambassador, where do we have to go?”

Still without giving any evidence of a tie between the Palestinian uprising in Lebanon and Iran, Bolton said, “I think it's also part of a pattern of increasing Iranian aggressiveness inside Iraq, in Lebanon, indeed by arresting and charging today an Iranian-American, an American citizen, charging her with an effort to overthrow the government of Iran – very similar to the kidnapping of the 15 British Naval and Marine personnel some time back. So I think this shows Iran increasingly trying to assert itself as it continues its nuclear weapons program.”

In a further sign that there was a directive from above to make the conflict about Iran, Alan Colmes chose not to ask Bolton about his questionable conflations but jumped straight to debating the issue of whether or not there should be a “military solution” to the problem with Iran. Colmes' first question was, “Does (the Lebanon situation) ramp up that possibility?”

Bolton responded, “I think it demonstrates that Iran thinks it's on a roll… I think it shows Iran is not serious about negotiating on any of these fronts.” He added that “Iran is never going to be chatted out of its nuclear weapons” and, therefore, “the only recourse is to dramatically ratchet up the economic and political pressure on Iran and keep open the option of regime change or even military force.”

Colmes made some excellent arguments, especially in the second part of the discussion (not presented below) but he was uncharacteristically incurious about Bolton's premise and debated the conclusion, only. “Should we accept (military action) without even a dialogue?” Colmes asked.

Bolton's chilling answer was all too reminiscent of the we-don't-want-the-smoking-gun-to-be-a-mushroom-cloud talk in the run-up to the Iraq war: “I think there is a cost to diplomacy. In the area of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, time is not on our side. Time is used by countries like Iran to perfect their nuclear weapons program. We can't allow that to go on any further.”

In Part 2 of the segment, with FOX News military analyst Bill Cowan, Lebanon was all but forgotten as both members of the panel spoke hawkishly about Iran.

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