"Conservative" Rep. Murtha's Anti-War Pessimism Leads the NYT

Rep. John Murtha's anti-war pessimism leads Friday's New York Times, but criticizing the war isn't new for the "conservative" congressman.

"Fast Withdrawal Of G.I.'s Is Urged By Key Democrat" is the headline to Eric Schmitt's story:

"The partisan furor over the Iraq war ratcheted up sharply on Capitol Hill on Thursday, as an influential House Democrat on military matters called for the immediate withdrawal of American troops and Republicans escalated their attacks against the Bush administration's critics....'Our military has done everything that has been asked of them. It is time to bring them home,' Mr. Murtha said, at times choking back tears. Mr. Murtha's proposal, which goes well beyond the phased withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq that other moderate Democrats have proposed, stunned many Republicans who quickly held their own news conference to criticize the plan."

Schmitt's labeling of Murtha ("a Vietnam combat veteran who voted for the Iraq war") as a moderate Democrat is more accurate than that of his "continuous news desk" colleague David Stout, whose Thursday afternoon filing for the Times website called Murtha a "conservative." Not a "conservative Democrat" (which is also highly debatable), but simply a conservative: "Mr. Murtha, a conservative who voted in 2002 for the resolution authorizing use of force in Iraq and who supported the Persian Gulf war in 1991, called for 'the immediate redeployment of American forces.'"

While Murtha is no Bernie Sanders, his lifetime voting record rating of 33 from the American Conservative Union puts him to the left of center.

Returning to Schmitt, he indirectly admits the effectiveness of a GOP ad using past Democratic quotes to make the point that just about everyone once thought Hussein had WMD: "Democrats have unleashed an advertisement to counter the Republicans' powerful Web advertisement that quotes prominent Democrats, including Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who had earlier voiced support for the war and Mr. Bush."

He touches on a fact many outlets have ignored -- that criticizing the war is nothing new for Murtha: "In recent months, though, Mr. Murtha has voiced concerns raised by constituents and from his own conversations with troops and commanders about problems like shortages of body armor and other equipment."

But not just "in recent months." Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters found this from the Times from September 17, 2003 (in a Page 12 story, unlike today's headlines) of Murtha calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. Reporter David Firestone summarized: "Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, a decorated Vietnam veteran, said that he had been misled into voting for the war by incorrect information from top administration officials and that the president had also been misled."

And CNN quoted Murtha on May 6, 2004 saying "the [Iraq War's] direction has got be changed or it is unwinnable."

For more examples of New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.
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