Hume, backed by Liasson, falsely claimed that Democrats want to "pull out now" from Iraq
On the December 4 broadcast of Fox News Sunday, Fox News Washington managing editor Brit Hume and National Public Radio national correspondent Mara Liasson mischaracterized as "pull out now" the Iraq redeployment plan proposed by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA), which House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has endorsed. Hume used this false characterization to support his claim that the American public does not back proposals for leaving Iraq put forth by Democratic elected officials, telling National Public Radio special correspondent Juan Williams: "The public has to some extent, as you correctly note, lost faith in this conflict. However, the pull-out-now number is very low in the public's estimation, and that, however, is the viewpoint to which the Democratic Party increasingly is rallying."
When host Chris Wallace asked Liasson if it was actually "fair ... to say that the Democrats are for 'pull out now,' " she responded, "I think it is fair to say a big chunk, not all, because Democrats -- are split ... in the House, are in the pull-out-now camp."
In fact, no prominent Democratic politician has proposed pulling out of Iraq immediately. In particular, as Media Matters for America has noted, Murtha's proposal does not call for the United States to "pull out now." Instead, his resolution (House Joint Resolution 73) would force the president to withdraw American troops from Iraq "at the earliest practicable date," which Murtha explained at a November 17 press conference meant an "immediate redeployment of U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces to create a quick reaction force in the region, to create an over-the-horizon presence of Marines, and to diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq." Asked by a reporter "how long that would be," Murtha responded, "you have to do it in a very consistent way, but I think six months would be a reasonable time to get them out of there."
Other Democrats in Congress have made proposals for pulling troops out of Iraq, none of which called for American forces to leave immediately. Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) has proposed a flexible timetable that targets December 2006 for the full departure of U.S. troops from Iraq. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) has proposed a non-specific timetable, which a statement says, "[i]f followed, the process will be completed in 12-15 months." The Senate Democratic leadership offered a proposal that declared, "Democrats believe we should see a significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty in 2006 so that our troops can begin coming home." The amendment, offered to the Defense Authorization Bill, would require that the Bush administration provide regular progress reports on Iraq and "a campaign plan with estimated dates for the phased redeployment of our troops from Iraq as each condition is met, with the understanding that unexpected contingencies may arise." While the amendment was rejected 58-40, an almost identical plan proposed by Sen. John Warner (R-VA) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) -- which principally lacked the requirement that the administration produce a withdrawal timetable -- passed 70-19.