On his February 22 Scarborough Country, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough gave time to conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham to relay her experiences talking to American troops and doing her show in Iraq, and what she saw that contrasts with the predominantly negative view of the Iraq War as reported by the mainstream media. Scarborough found that her words confirmed the sentiments of e-mails he has received from U.S. troops in Iraq that "there is a huge disconnect from what Americans are hearing in the media and what they're seeing on the ground over there," which is "misleading the American people on how things are really going in Iraq."
Ingraham began by passing on the "great respect and admiration between American military trainers and their Iraqi counterparts," and the "important cooperation between average Iraqis, who are giving more tips to American and Iraqi forces than ever before."
Scarborough also wondered about the effects of anti-war criticism from politicians like Democratic Senators Ted Kennedy and Dick Durbin comparing U.S. troops to Saddam Hussein, Nazis and the Khmer Rouge. Ingraham imparted that "you can see it on the Islamic Web sites and Al-Jazeera and so forth, is that some of those comments are obviously used to inflame and incite the worst among the Muslims in Iraq."
Below is a transcript of most of the segment from the Wednesday February 22 Scarborough Country:
Joe Scarborough: "Radio talk show host Laura Ingraham is back from Iraq where she met with troops and actually broadcast her show from Baghdad. And while much of the mainstream media is only reporting one side of the story, Laura went to see for herself what's happening on the ground. I asked her to tell us what she saw."
Laura Ingraham: "I don't pretend to have gotten the broadest perspective of Iraq, but I know what I saw when I was there. And I was in, kind of, the 30, 40-square mile radius around Baghdad, which obviously is very dangerous, very difficult security situation as we saw with the attacks on yet another historic mosque in Iraq today. So the security situation very difficult. What I did also see were things that weren't reported in the media. The great respect and admiration between American military trainers and their Iraqi counterparts. They write to each other's wives, they get to know each other's families, they go to each other's memorial services, and the dedication on the part of both the Iraqi forces newly trained and their American counterparts really was something I wasn't expecting, and it was really heartening."
Scarborough: "You know, Laura, people listening to you that have only gotten their news from, well, the news, might think that you were trying to whitewash the situation there, but what you're telling me, it's in line with all the e-mails I get from troops that are on the ground over there that say there is a huge disconnect from what Americans are hearing in the media and what they're seeing on the ground over there. Why is there this massive disconnect that, quite frankly, is misleading the American people on how things are really going in Iraq?"
Ingraham: "Well, I think, you know, it's a lot easier to cover the latest IED or the latest car bomb attack or the fact that people like Moqtada Sadr is becoming more politically popular in some quarters. That's not so hard to cover. What is hard to cover is this slow and sometimes difficult, but important cooperation between average Iraqis, who are giving more tips to American and Iraqi forces than ever before, and more difficult maybe to cover the woman that I interviewed, who's 19 years old and employs 40 people in her building maintenance company and puts her life on the line, by the way, Joe, to start a new business in Baghdad. I mean, those stories are out there, and there are some media that are doing a much better job than they were, let's say, even six months ago, in Iraq, including a couple of New York Times reporters doing great pieces about the new Iraqi special forces. But it's a little bit too little too late because I think a lot of people still have a very negative view of what's possible in Iraq, and it's difficult, but I think if we're patient, we're going to see a lot of success."
Scarborough: "I want to ask you about politics, politics in the United States and how much of an impact it has, how much the Iraqi people hear. Like, for instance, when Ted Kennedy compares American troops, as he did after Abu Ghraib, to Saddam's torturers, or when you have the Democratic whip in the Senate, Dick Durbin comparing our troops to Nazis and the Khmer Rouge, do they hear that negativity? Does that have an impact on them over there or is that just something that basically stays in the United States and is part of our white hot debate over this war?"
Ingraham: "What I think ends up happening, Joe, and you can see it on the Islamic Web sites and Al-Jazeera and so forth, is that some of those comments are obviously used to inflame and incite the worst among the Muslims in Iraq and among people who are disenfranchised, angry and maybe not making any money, and this, it's put out there and put out there and put out there. And I think that doesn't do anything to help us, and I can tell you, a consistent comment from our military, and I spent a lot of time talking to the Fourth Mountain Division, 710 Cavalry, and in the Fourth I.D., these men and women consistently said to me, Laura, if you don't support the mission, we don't feel supported as troops because a lot of people say, oh, well, we support the troops but not what they're doing. Well, that's what they're doing. So they don't really get that attempt by some people to say, well, we don't believe in what we're doing in Iraq, but we love you, the troops. That doesn't really work for them."
Scarborough: "Yeah, you know, that's why I actually was one of, I think, one of the few conservatives that loved Joel Stein's column in the L.A. Times because it said, hey, I don't support the mission or the troops, I don't support the troops."
Ingraham: "Yeah, it's honest."
Scarborough: "I thought it was, yeah, I thought it was intellectually honest, unlike let's say, for instance, Howard Dean, who said this: 'The idea that we're going to win this war is just plain wrong.'"
Ingraham: "Yeah, thanks."
Scarborough: "What kind of impact does that have on our soldiers' morale, our Marines' morale over there?"
Ingraham: "Well, they're tough. I mean, I was with the Army and the Air Force for most of the time. And I think that, you know, they are so dedicated to their mission, they're dedicated to their units. They want to make a difference. It's very difficult to be away from their families for so long, and they really want positive encouragement and support. So I wanted to go there and do the first sort of national live radio show from Iraq so they could talk to people calling in, and they loved it. They loved hearing the shoutouts from back home and saying hello, and they asked for letters, they want letters from Americans, just regular letters. That really means a lot to them to get that support. And when they heard it, you could see their eyes light up. And they really love that, Joe. So I think their morale is something they'll say is strong and stalwart. But I got the sense that it does hurt when the negativity is all you hear in the mainstream media."