Donald Rumsfeld Fires Back at Jim Lehrer and the Media
** Rumsfeld shocks Jim Lehrer by firing back at the media! **
Rumsfeld was brilliant. He didn’t react to Lehrer’s constant attacks and set the record straight on a number of issues that have been inaccurately reported in the mainstream news. Rumsfeld points out the media’s poor job of reporting the Iraq War, as well. But, the best part is when Rummy clobbers Lehrer about the media and polls!
Rumsfeld blasts the media for the “Koran in the Toilet Riots and Death”, the one-sidedness of their reporting on the Iraq War (see Media Research Center), and for not reporting the other side of the Iraq War story!
Here are a few outstanding exchanges:
JIM LEHRER: No matter what. Now, there was a story in the U.S. — the New York Daily News today that said that White House officials expect you to resign early next year once this new government you just mentioned is in place. Is that true?
DONALD RUMSFELD: Well, you know, that’s a fellow who does that about every six months.
JIM LEHRER: The fellow, what fellow?
DONALD RUMSFELD: This fellow for that paper.
JIM LEHRER: Tom DeFrank.
DONALD RUMSFELD: Yeah. There are a couple of these folks who do it.
JIM LEHRER: Yeah.
DONALD RUMSFELD: And they do it about every six months. And you know something, some day they’re going to have a scoop and be right by accident.
JIM LEHRER: He also said something interesting in the same story, that you wanted to do this a year ago and you and the president decided not to do that because you thought it would be misinterpreted as some kind of giving into the critics and all of that, is that not true?
DONALD RUMSFELD: Not that I know of.
JIM LEHRER: No, not so? How about six months ago? No? I mean, have you ever seriously sat down with the president and said, you know, I think it is time for me to go?
DONALD RUMSFELD: Oh, twice I have given my resignation.
JIM LEHRER: But I mean, seriously, you said, I want to go?
DONALD RUMSFELD: Sure. No, I didn’t say I wanted it to go. I said look, I think that you ought to sit down and think about whether or not you would benefit by having someone else running this department.
And it was during all the flack over Abu Ghraib. And I said, my goodness, it happened on my watch. I put on instructions for humane treatment; obviously humane treatment was not what those people received.
And punishments proceeded at pace, but I offered my resignation twice to him. And he declined it.
JIM LEHRER: So there is nothing fresh or new here?
DONALD RUMSFELD: No, except another story and six months from now there will be another one.
JIM LEHRER: Does it bother you — I looked at the public opinion polls the last, recent ones that mention you. And you don’t come out very well in terms of the public. I couldn’t find one where the public had approved of the job you were doing, less than 50 percent. Does that bother you?
DONALD RUMSFELD: Well, you know, you’d love to have acclamation and unanimity in everything one does. But in this position, in a war, and wars are tough. Someone told me the other day that Clemenceau made the comment that wars are a series of catastrophes culminating in victory. And they’re tough. And so it doesn’t surprise me that there are feelings, the feelings are strong on both sides.
There are an awful lot of people that are very positive and very favorable and very helpful and constructive. But there are certainly people who disagree violently; and that is the nature of a free system. So that’s fair. I can live with that.
JIM LEHRER: You made a speech earlier this week where you said the news media should reassess the way it covers Iraq. What do you mean?
DONALD RUMSFELD: Oh, I think that it’s — if you look where the news media is, it’s down very low at the polls. If you want to get into public opinion polls, people in that business are right down near the bottom.
JIM LEHRER: Tell me about it.
DONALD RUMSFELD: You know that. Yeah, does it bother you?
JIM LEHRER: (laughter) Hey, I ask the questions here!
Donald Rumsfeld also said that troop reductions are planned for after the December 15, 2005 Iraqi Election, to 137,000.
Hat Tip Larwyn!
Update: Gina Cobb has commentary on this exchange at the Newshour.