Russert Doesn’t Challenge Kennedy’s Numerous Historical Misstatements

April 23rd, 2006 1:18 PM

Sunday seemed to be “Let’s Not Challenge Democrats From Massachusetts Day” on America’s top political talk shows. Similar to what occurred on “This Week” as reported here, Tim Russert on “Meet The Press” seemed content to allow his first guest, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass), to say whatever he wanted to about American history regardless of accuracy, with total impunity, and with no fear of being challenged (video link to follow).

The first historical misstatement made by Kennedy was that we have now been in Iraq as long as we were in Korea: “You know, Tim, as of this week, American forces will have been in Iraq as long as America was in the Korean peninsula in the Korean war.” Certainly, any journalist worth his salt would have challenged his guest on this statement, as America more than 50 years later still has troops in Korea. In fact, according to Global, as many as 67,000 American troops were still in South Korea in 1970, 43,000 in 1991, and 37,000 as recently as October 2004. Today, this number appears to be about 30,000. Yet, Russert chose not to bring this fact to Kennedy’s attention, even when Kennedy reiterated this misstatement later in the interview.

Kennedy’s second unchallenged misstatement came when Russert asked him whether there could be huge consequences to pulling all of America’s troops out of Iraq: “If we got out and there was a civil war, chaos and you saw al Qaeda moving in in record numbers and Zarqawi exerting great control over the country, would you go back in?”

Kennedy responded: “Well, first of all, I heard the same kinds of suggestions at the time of the end of the Vietnam War: ‘the great blood bath. We're going to have over 100,000 people that were going to be murdered and killed at that time.’ And for those of us that were strongly opposed to the war heard those same kinds of arguments at the time.”

Well, Tim, it would have been nice of you to point out to your guest that an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians were killed by the Khmer Rouge after America pulled out of Vietnam. As such, the great bloodbath that folks were predicting did happen. Mightn’t it have been appropriate to point this out to your guest, Tim?

It appears not.

Video Link