Intercept Co-Founder Goes Off the Rails, Compares Dick Cheney to ‘Butcher’ Assad

A simple news segment about the media coverage of Syria spun wildly out of control during Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN. It started with Foreign Correspondent Lara Setrakian noting how little coverage the Syrian civil war received in the early years. But it ending with Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept, going off the rails and declaring that “We need to understand the historical context of how a butcher like Assad actually has more in common with someone like Dick Cheney than he does with the average Syrian…

Scahill’s inane tirade derailed the whole segment from the moment he opened his mouth. “Jeremy, I think there is awareness of what’s been going on in Syria, but for some reason maybe people are desensitized. What is your view of the coverage,” host Brian Stelter wondered? That questioned opened the floodgates of a rant that sounded quite similar to those lobbed during Vietnam:

Well, first of all, let's look at this in the big picture. Donald Trump has given greater latitude to the military to conduct strikes for almost no regard for civilians! Just in the March-- In the month of March, Brian, U.S. and allied forces have killed more than 1,000 civilians in Iraq and Syria, according to the non-partisan independent group Airwars.

But the claims he cites are dubious at best. Airwars’ own website states that: “Funding from the Open Society Foundations allows us to employ a full time [sic US-based investigative reporter and a UK-based Syria researcher, along with a part time [sic] London-based web and data producer. Our director is jointly funded by JRCT and OSF.” But Open Society Foundation was founded and is currently chaired by socialist billionaire George Soros. They were also funded by the Network for Social Change which aims for “providing funding for progressive social change.”

The radical journalist then claimed that under Trump the U.S. military was practicing “scorched earth bombing” in Yemen. He then set his sights on the mainstream media and the retired military personnel that provide analysis for them:

When we talk about this, CNN needs to immediately withdrawal all retired generals and colonels from its airwaves. You know Fareed Zakaria, if that guy could have sex with this cruise missile attack, I think he would do it.

Brian Williams seemed to just be in true love with the cruise missile strike and in a despicable way invoking Leonard Cohen’s name. I mean, the media coverage has been atrocious particularly—and this is across the board on every network, particularly when the strike is happening, it’s like they are in awe of the cruise missiles.

Now not to defend chronic plagiarist Zakaria and pants-on-fire Williams, but Scahill was literally making things up to say about them.

As reported by the Media Research Center’s Curtis Houck, on the night of the strike, Williams openly whined about how much the strike was costing the taxpayers. MSNBC also trashed Trump’s speech on the strike, warned Assad would retaliate, and claimed the strikes were illegal. That’s a far cry from being in awe of the missile attack.  

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Meanwhile, on CNN, Zakaria was worried that Trump just had the U.S. military ‘act as ISIS’s air force’ and help them battle the Assad regime. Stelter even informed Scahill that his colleague came out strong against the strike the next morning on CNN’s New Day. Now, that doesn’t really sound like a guy that wants to “have sex” with a Tomahawk cruise missile.

Scahill’s rambling seemed devoid of almost any facts. At one point, Setrakian begged Stelter for the conversation to be steered back to the plight of Syria. With all of Scahill’s radical and unfounded accusations, his comments definitely fall into the category of fake news. 

Transcript below:

CNN
Reliable Sources
April 9, 2017
11:06:42 AM Eastern

BRIAN STELTER: Arwa Damon, one of our correspondent who has risked her life going into Syria over these past six years, said to me a couple days ago that she's racked with guilt wondering if she could have or should have possibly done even more. Jeremy, I think there is awareness of what’s been going on in Syria, but for some reason maybe people are desensitized. What is your view of the coverage?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, first of all, let's look at this in the big picture. Donald Trump has given greater latitude to the military to conduct strikes for almost no regard for civilians. Just in the March-- In the month of March, Brian, U.S. and allied forces have killed more than 1,000 civilians in Iraq and Syria, according to the non-partisan independent group Air Wars.

Trump is funneling weapons and intelligence to the Saudis-- are being used to utterly destroying Yemen at this point. The United States has been engaged military in Syria for several years now, both in the form of special operations forces and increasingly conventional boots on the ground, but also scorched earth bombing, particularly since Trump took office.

And I have to say, Brian that Arwa Damon is a fantastic reporter. I have great respect for her but when we talk about this, CNN needs to immediately withdrawal all retired generals and colonels from its airwaves. You know Fareed Zakaria, if that guy could have sex with this cruise missile attack, I think he would do it.

Brian Williams seemed to just be in true love with the cruise missile strike and in a despicable way invoking Leonard Cohen’s name. I mean, the media coverage has been atrocious particularly—and this is across the board on every network, particularly when the strike is happening, it’s like they are in awe of the cruise missiles. And look no further than Hillary Clinton, Bill Kristol and Donald Trump once again being on the same team when it comes to these kinds of wars. The elite of both parties just all get in line and they absolutely love a cruise missile strike.

11:12:42 PM Eastern

STELTER: All right Jeremy, last word.

SCAHILL: Yeah, I just want to say, you know, Bashar al-Assad was a brutal thug when he was torturing prisoners on behalf of the CIA. Saddam Hussein was America's friend when he was using chemical weapons. We need to have more than just the immediate crisis memory. We need to understand the historical context of how a butcher like Assad actually has more in common with someone like Dick Cheney than he does with the average Syrian or the people who are on these airwaves as brave reporters.

STELTER: Historical context, we can all agree on wanting more of that. 

Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas C. Fondacaro