Another WOOD TV 8 Meterologist Promoting Global Warming “Skepticism”

Bill Steffen

WOOD TV 8 meteorologist Bill Steffen is picking up where Craig James left off in hyping flawed science on global warming. Before he retired, James never turned down the chance to either argue against global warming on his blog or in presentations to the community).

Now Bill Steffen appears to be filling the void that was left when James quit and when his blog posts were erased from WOOD TV 8’s website. Like Craig James, Steffen is using his status as a meteorologist–and a trusted member of the community for some–to argue against the scientific consensus on global warming.

Steffen’s latest effort is blog post titled “MSNBC Needs to read Bill’s Blog” in which Steffen rails against MSNBC for their four-part series “Future Earth.” In the post, Steffen says that the show’s science is flawed. He argues that arctic ice is not decreasing and points to numbers from 2007 that show an increase in arctic ice. However, scientists have suggested that this is likely a temporary phenomenon and that ice will continue to melt if greenhouse gasses continue to rise.

Beyond that, Steffen argues that there is nothing we could do about it anyway, as “YOU can’t stop it’s decline (assuming it’s declining)! Nature is big – you personally are insignificant compared to nature.” He also advocates a rather bizarre position that so-called global warming skeptics like to argue: people who warn about global warming just want to make money. In this case, Steffen says that NBC has a vested interest in promoting global warming because they are making money off of it. Steffen argues that General Electric stands to profit from proposed cap-and-trade legislation because it produces some energy efficient appliances. It’s an argument that might have an ounce of validity in the case of GE (we should always be suspicious of the motives of corporations, especially those that control the media), but when they use it to dismiss scientists–who describe dire environmental problems and peril–it’s hard to believe that they are hyping up the situation just to sell a few more copies of their academic tomes.

For this, Steffen’s post spread rapidly across the global warming denier/delayer blogosphere, as well as getting attention via conservative commentator Michelle Malkin’s blog–since that crowd is always trying to find someone “credible” to argue against global warming. However, what’s interesting is that there has been a fairly strong counter voice to Steffen’s arguments in the comments section of his post, with a few voices strongly arguing the validity of the science and how Steffen draws his conclusion. Most often, Steffen has shied away from making detailed responses to those comments.

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AFA Claims they are being Silenced as TV Stations Refuse to Air Anti-Gay Propaganda

AFA Anti-Gay Program Pulled from Ohio Station

In response to WOOD TV 8’s decision not to air an anti-gay program produced by the American Family Association (AFA), the group is charging that they are being silenced by “homosexual activists” who are opposed to religious freedom. The group is upset not only that the program was pulled from WOOD TV, but also that it will not air in Columbus, Ohio on WSXY. Additionally, WSPA in South Carolina aired the program but then ran an apology from the station manager.

It is also important to remember that this program was produced as part of a coordinated effort aimed at fighting civil rights legislation aimed at protecting LGBT people:

“Make no mistake: this is the opening salvo in a coming battle over pro-equality legislation.

Just as we are on the cusp of historic change – a federal hate crimes law, protections for LGBT workers against job discrimination – extremist groups like the AFA are launching a well-funded national campaign of hatred and fear to halt our progress.

This program recycles familiar lies: that hate crime laws will “do away with our freedom of speech,” or that pastors will be “criminalized for sharing the love of Jesus Christ.” (In fact, the proposed federal hate crimes law explicitly states that it only applies to physical violence – not speech.)”

WOOD TV Rescinds Offer to Air Anti-Gay Program

WOOD TV Rescinds Offer to Air Anti-Gay Program Following Public Pressure

Within an hour of the Human Rights Campaign issuing an action alert to its supporters urging them to contact WOOD TV to demand that the station not air an anti-gay program produced by the American Family Association, WOOD TV announced that it is no longer going to air the program.

In a statement, Diane Kniowski, General Manager of WOOD TV, said:

“We made a gesture of the 2-3 p.m. Saturday time period. It’s been 24 hours and we had no response… Our station is being bombarded with calls and messages, and we find ourselves in the middle of someone else’s fight. Ours was a fair offer and we are removing ourselves from this matter.”

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization. The group’s action alert urged the station to pull the program and instead air a fair discussion or debate on both the issues and pending legislation.

WOOD-TV May Air Anti-Gay Paid Program on “the Radical Homosexual Agenda”

WOOD TV 8 May Air An Anti-Gay Program Produced By The American Family Association

According to reports in the Grand Rapids Press and online, WOOD-TV is considering airing a paid program produced by the American Family Association that purports to expose “the radical homosexual agenda” and “its impact on the family, the nation, and religious freedom.”

The special–titled “Speechless”–was originally supposed to air on WOOD TV an hour before President Barack Obama’s news conference Monday. However, the program was pulled because the station believed that it was not the appropriate lead-in to the news conference. WOOD TV 8’s General Manager released a statement saying:

“The scheduling of the show slipped through our filters…

We don’t pre-judge people’s ideas or opinions…

However, we have restrictions on controversial programming and key time periods. We are willing to sell a paid program time period during traditional paid program times. We have offered them Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009 from 2-3 p.m. We have not heard if they have accepted that time period. If the show airs, we will have disclaimers at the beginning and end of the show stating that these are not the opinions or views of this station.”

WOOD TV is clearly intending to run the program–lets not forget that it will make them money–thereby ignoring the anti-gay nature of the program. Critics have pointed to the American Family Association’s history of anti-gay activism as well as inaccurate claims made in the film as reasons for the station not to air it.

Colette Beighly of Grand Valley State University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Resource Center called the program “irresponsible programming” in The Grand Rapids Press stating:

“If an organization came into Grand Rapids and wanted to air biased programming slamming the Asian community, West Michigan would send a message that that puts Asians brothers and sisters at risk.”

Organizing to Stop the Program

A Facebook group been created to organize against the program and people are being encouraged to contact WOOD TV 8:

“Please contact WOOD TV8 to let them know this kind of irresponsible broadcasting is biased, unprofessional and leads to hate violence against the gay community.

Last year, hate violence against the LGBT community in Michigan increased 133%. Join us in standing up against homophobia and saying “NO!” to hate in our state.

Contact WOOD TV8:

Craig Cole, Program Director WOOD TV8

616-456-8888

woodtv@woodtv.com, newsrm@woodtv.com”

WOOD TV 8 Offers Buy-Outs to Longtime Employees

On the heels of news that WOOD TV 8 was not renewing the contract of longtime anchor Larry Neinhaus, The Michigan Messenger is reporting that the station offered buy-outs to 27 longtime employees and is seeking to eliminate 15 positions.

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According to an article on The Michigan Messenger, WOOD TV 8 is seeking to eliminate 15 positions through buy-outs.

The article–which cites an anonymous staffer–reports that 27 people who have worked at the station for more than 20 years were offered buy-outs. The station is reportedly seeking to eliminate 15 positions and will do layoffs if the buy-outs do not work. WOOD TV 8 did not return The Michigan Messenger’s call and the station’s parent company LIN TV would not comment on the matter.

A few weeks ago WOOD TV 8 let longtime news anchor Larry Nienhaus go citing “the extremely challenging economic conditions in which the nation finds itself.”

Craig James Lectures on Global Warming

On Wednesday, WOOD TV 8 meteorologist Craig James delivered a lecture at a Kent Garden Club meeting that was essentially an introduction to global warming skepticism.

On Wednesday, WOOD TV 8 meteorologist Craig James spoke at the Kent Garden Club’s April meeting at Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids on his views on global warming. While the public appearances of local media celebrities–in this case the chief meteorologist at WOOD TV 8, the most highly watched channel in West Michigan–aren’t typically that interesting to Mediamouse.org, we eagerly attended James’ talk.

Readers may remember that in the past we have written about Craig James and his views on global warming. James is a “skeptic” on global warming. He doesn’t deny that warming is happening–as many skeptics do–rather he admits that the earth is warming. In his blog, which is hosted at Woodtv.com, it is not uncommon to see him posting entries pointing to “errors” in the science, raising questions about the accuracy of temperature measurements, and questioning the effectiveness of computer models. With that background, it is pretty clear what James’ speech would be–a sort of “global warming skepticism 101.” Indeed, that’s what it was. James titled his presentation “Global Warming: A Brief Overview.” However, from the start he made it clear that he was there to show that a view that people “haven’t seen” due to the “bias” of the media on global warming. He presented an entirely one-sided presentation designed to convince people that global warming is far less of a problem than what it actually is.

As James moved through his presentation, he presented a number of arguments commonly made by global warming skeptics. Debunking each of his arguments would take more space than can be allotted to this article, so for the sake of brevity, we have linked each claim to resources debunking them. He argued that water vapor is more important than CO2 and that proponents of global warming ignore it. He questioned the accuracy of temperature measurements and said that urbanization has had a significant relationship to rising temperatures –but not in the context of increased CO2 emissions. He claimed that CO2 does not cause temperatures to rise. He also said that computer models are not accurate. Overall, in his “conclusions” slide, James said that there has been no detectable change in the number or intensity of hurricanes, that models are way over forecasting the effect of doubling of CO2 due to poor handling of water vapor, models do not include El Nino, La Nina, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and Atlantic Decadal Oscillation, and finally, temperature changes are very hard to measure.

While many of his graphs and charts were not footnoted, he did cite two scientists–Roy Spencer and Roger Pielke, Jr.–who are prominent skeptics that have promoted inaction or delayed action on global warming.

On the question of whether temperature change would matter–which he admitted has happened from 1990 to 2000–he argued that a degree and a half is not much of a change. Moreover, for the hosts of the event–gardeners living here in West Michigan–James said that warmer temperatures are better for plant biodiversity. He said that while some may go extinct, others will not. Several other entities–such as the National Wildlife Federation–have said that global warming will have a negative impact on Michigan’s ecosystems.

At numerous times during his presentation, he said that he did not want to get into politics. For example, in response to a question about meteorological organizations taking positions on global warming, James said that the American Meteorological Society (AMS) has taken a position that global warming is human-induced and is happening because of CO2. While he disagreed with how the statement was made, he admitted that “CO2 has some role, but is it worth bankrupting… I won’t get into politics.” At another point in his presentation, he said that there should not be any “taxes” relating to global warming mitigation efforts since they would be based on models. While James said he supports conservation and alternative energy for reasons such as national security, he criticized efforts aimed at reducing CO2 emission by half saying that they couldn’t be done without going back to living in caves and horse and buggies.

News 8 Meteorologist Plugs Global Warming Skeptics Conference

Last week, WOOD TV 8 meteorologist Craig James, whom we wrote about last fall regarding his global warming “skepticism,” plugged a recent global warming conference held in New York City on his blog:

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Not surprisingly based on his previous comments, Craig James failed to mention that the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change was organized and sponsored by the Heartland Institute, a think-tank that has sought to downplay the impact and causes of global warming for years. Moreover, most of the conference’s sponsors have been funded by a network of rightwing foundations that have promoted pro-business and pro-industry ideologies over environmental protection. In addition, some have received money from Exxon-Mobil, a company that has a long history of funding scientists and organizations that have either denied or downplayed global warming.

Most of the speakersfew of whom were scientists–at the conference promoted the usual arguments against global warming, that the Earth is not warming and that the science is still open for debate. Of course, there is widespread consensus among scientists and the world’s governments that global warming is real. Still, that doesn’t stop entities like the Heartland Institute. While the media coverage of the conference was not as good as what they wanted, it did manage to convey the idea that there is “confusion” over the science of global warming. Not surprisingly given who spoke and sponsored the conference, its concluding declaration went against much of accepted science and declared that “there is no convincing evidence that CO2 emissions from modern industrial activity has in the past, is now, or will in the future cause catastrophic climate change.” As such, it called for “world leaders reject the views expressed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as popular, but misguided works such as ‘An Inconvenient Truth'” and demanded that “all taxes, regulations, and other interventions intended to reduce emissions of CO2 be abandoned forthwith.”

By contrast, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report last year–approved by 130 nations–that concluded that immediate action is necessary to prevent catastrophic warming and that warming caused thus far is due to human activity.

WOOD TV 8 and Global Warming Skepticism

Over the past year, WOOD TV 8’s Chief Meteorologist Craig James has posted a number of blog entries on WOODTV.COM questioning the science on global warming. James frequently relies on industry-funded entities and advances the same confusion over science that industry groups have sought on global warming.

On Sunday, Craig James–the Chief Meteorologist for the West Michigan television station WOOD TV 8–posted a blog entry on WOOD TV 8’s website titled “A Summary of My Position on AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming).” In the entry, James argues that there “are several possible causes for warming and cooling of the atmosphere on a global scale” and ultimately asserts that:

“It seems to me the argument that the current rise in CO2 is solely responsible for the changes we have seen over the past several decades ignores much of the historical record and places an unwarranted confidence in computer model forecasts, which those of us who forecast weather know all to well, are NOT reality. I do think I am open to being convinced otherwise, but as of yet, I haven’t seen the smoking gun that would do so.”

In his entry, James does acknowledge that “I am not doubting that humans have been responsible for an increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and that this CO2 increase may have contributed to some of the warming we have experienced.”

However, James’ most recent blog post on the topic of global warming must be seen in the overall context of what he has written. Since starting his blog back in January of this year, James has cast himself as WOOD TV 8’s resident “contrarian” on global warming (or “climate change”), arguing repeatedly on his blog that there is not a consensus in the scientific community about the science around global warming. Specifically, James has questioned the idea the accuracy of various computer models and temperature data, predications based on those models, and the extent to which warming is caused by humans. James has stated that:

“…there is a consensus I agree with and that is “the earth is currently getting warmer”. I fought the idea for awhile, but I don’t think there is now any question that we have even exceeded the warmth of the 1930s across the globe. The question still very much open to debate is how much of the warming has been caused by humans.”

And also said that:

“Let me reiterate, my skepticism does not exist over whether humans have caused warming, but whether the “markedly deficient” computer models can yet adequately represent the global conditions 100 years from now.”

And finally:

“I firmly believe what I have written before that much of the warming is natural and cyclical and the computer model forecasts are not to be believed.”

This argument has also been taken off the internet, with James recently asserting in the Grand Rapids Press that “the science is anything but settled whether carbon dioxide is to blame” for increased warming since the 1960s and 1970s.

Of course, there is room for debate over the science pertaining global warming–and there are differences within the scientific community over the numbers. Much of the scientific community accepts the concept of global warming and that it is human-induced, although there has been debate over the extent of the problem (much of which has centered on whether “consensus” views are minimizing or overstating the problem). However, both of those strains accept the reality of human-induced global warming. However, on the other side of there debate there is a “global warming skepticism” that is often connected to industry groups and which has sought to create “confusion” over the science. Being up front that we are not climate scientists, meteorologists, or anything like that, it is not really possible for us to delve into the scientific basis of each of James’ claims. However, several interesting points did emerge when we considered his writing on the subject over the past eleven months, all of which ultimately lead to the larger question of whether or not having a global warming skeptic as Chief Meteorologist might color the station’s reporting on the issue?

First, it is interesting to note that it is common to see Craig James’ name posted around the Internet as a “skeptical” meteorologist on the issue of global warming. This no doubt stems from stems from James’ blog and his membership in and listing on the International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project’s (ICECAP) website. The site was registered in 2006 by Joseph D’Aleo (whom James cites), a retired meteorologist who is also involved with the Science and Public Policy Institute. ICECAP promotes the views of global warming skeptics, many of whom argue along similar lines as Craig James in saying that the while human-induced factors may play a role in global warming, much of it has to do with the Earth’s natural cycles. ICECAP’s website featured James’ “A Summary of My Position on AGW” on its front page. On each page of its blog, it links to a variety of websites promoting “skepticism” on global warming, including the Marshall Institute, Junkscience.com, and the Heartland Institute–some of which question the idea of global warming in its entirety. James has disclosed his involvement with ICECAP in a comment on his blog (not in the actual post):

“Another item needs a comment. Yes, I am listed as a member of International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project (ICECAP). I support the following statement as listed above the membership list:

Within the spirit of the first amendment, the following broadcast and private meteorologists support an objective consideration and an earnest and open discussion of all aspects of climate change.

If there is anyone here who can’t support that statement, you are wasting your time on this blog.”

Not surprisingly, James never discusses or discloses ICECAP’s ties to other entities with a history of global warming skepticism. Nor is his membership disclosed in a place that is easy for new readers of his blog to find, instead one would have to sort through all of his entries and comments.

It is worth noting that James has occasionally cited some troubling sources to prove his points. James has cited Frontiers of Freedom, the Science and Public Policy Institute, and the Heartland Institute. Two of the three–Frontiers of Freedom and the Heartland Institute have received funding from Exxon-Mobil. While this might cause one to question their independence, James has stated (again in a comment, not in the original entry):

“I do thank you for enabling me to win my bet that within a day someone would state that the Heartland Institute was a “right wing think thank”. So what! They didn’t do the survey. Two German scientists did and those two people weren’t the ones who answered the questions. Of the over 500 respondents to the survey, I’m sure their views range from far left to far right. So what! Evaluate what is said and not who says it. And, I would not be all all [sic] surprised that if another survey was done today, it would reveal even more skepticism. Consider that a Michael Chertoff type of “gut feeling”.

Despite this, he never confronts the larger issue with the Heartland Institute–that it has received funding from ExxonMobil–and that ExxonMobil has funded a network of organizations with the goal of creating “confusion” over global warming. It is worth noting that James’ writing has appeared on the Heartland Institute’s website.

In addition, some of the scientists that James has cited are connected to a variety of entities skeptical of global warming. These include Chris Landsea who has authored a report on hurricanes and global warming with Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger, both of whom have published several articles critical of global warming, and Roger Pielke. A letter written by sixty scientists in Canada has also been cited by James, without discussion of the connections that many of the scientists have to industry and entities skeptical of global warming. Many of the same scientists signed onto a 2006 letter arguing that there are problems with the science related to global warming and that consequently the Canadian government should rethink its plans to address the problem.

James has attacked consensus in the scientific community, despite reports from the IPCC that have stated that there is consensus on many issues pertaining to global warming. He has reacted with skepticism to the IPCC and used several posts to argue concerns over the IPCC’s data (1, 2). However beyond these criticisms of data, Craig has associated those expressing an opposing view with James’ apparently dreaded “liberals:”

“Ah, another fine example of people who call themselves liberal being the most close-minded people I know. Scientific evidence is neither republican nor democrat and for someone to assume I am of one party or the other is indeed putting his “ass” in front of “u” and “me”.”

James has criticized the National Wildlife Federation and further says that to the only way “to cut pollution by 80% by mid century” would be to “go back to living in caves.” No proof is offered for his claim, and in fact, there is never any real discussion on his blog about how to reduce the human-induced–which he admits exist–contributors to global warming.

Finally, James has also used his blog to criticize the media’s–both here in West Michigan and nationally–reporting on global warming, charging that it is occasionally nothing more than “biased propaganda” and “opinion.”

Like James’ concern over differences in science, there is certainly some truth to his attacks on the media, although he again turns towards a path friendly to industry. Whom does he hold up as an example of a courageous journalist? None other than ABC’s John Stossel:

“John Stossel is a breath of fresh air in the world of media hype. I can’t believe they have the courage to keep him on the air. Bravo for ABC.”

What James leaves out is that John Stossel has for years been incredibly friendly to industry and has a close relationship with the Competitive Enterprise Institute (who has received funding from ExxonMobil). Stossel is skeptical about global warming and has presented industry-funded scientists without disclosure on his show, and even claimed that global warming might be “a good thing.”

While there is certainly space for skepticism about the particulars of individual studies in the debate over global warming, James’ concerns often tend more towards the side of the debate that is connected to industry and is largely attempting to use concerns over science–sometimes legitimate and sometimes not–to create confusion over the issue. The ultimate goal would be that this confusion would limit government action and undercut science arguing that global warming is both human-induced and is a matter that demands serious and immediate attention.

Media Alert: Email WOOD TV 8 About Military Recruiting Story

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The Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) has issued a media alert regarding a story on military recruiting that ran on West Michigan’s WOOD TV 8:

On November 12, WOOD TV 8 ran a story on a local man who has been trying to join the military but has been unable to because of his criminal record. In light of recruiting shortages, the military has been relaxing its rules to allow people to enlist if they have a criminal record. Despite this, the local man in the story has been unable to join the military because of a domestic violence charge against his girlfriend. The story only spoke with the man and two military representatives and failed to get an alternative perspective on the issue. Such a story could have placed the issue of domestic violence into the larger context of sexual assault in the military.

Send a Letter Telling WOOD TV you are Disappointed with the Story:

http://citizenspeak.org/node/1170

View the Story (includes video and transcript):

http://www.mediamouse.org/griid/dissecting.php?artId=343

For additional news analysis, visit the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy’s (GRIID) “Dissecting the Local News Feature” at:

http://www.mediamouse.org/griid/dissecting.php

For additional media literacy resources, including studies of local news coverage, visit:

http://www.mediamouse.org/griid/

Talk Show Host Fails to Challenge Ehlers on Iraq

On April 29, Representative Vern Ehlers appeared on WOOD TV 8’s “To the Point.” He talked at length about the war in Iraq, repeating his arguments that the United States should not leave the country. However, little was said about Ehlers’ actual voting record.

On Sunday April 29, West Michigan Congressman Vern Ehlers appeared on WOOD TV’s “To the Point” program to discuss the war in Iraq. In the interview, Representative Ehlers’ talked at length about the recent funding bill passed by the House of Representatives and vetoed by President George W. Bush, why he believes that the United States cannot leave Iraq, the success of Bush’s escalation of the war (“the surge”), and his views of President Bush.

As has been the case at recent appearances at the Ford Museum, Calvin College, and in the local media, Ehlers positioned himself as a moderate critic of the war. In recent weeks, he has criticized the prewar planning and in statements such as this one on “To the Point:”

Albin: But just looking back over that period of time [since Ehlers’ vote authorizing the use of force in 2002], how much differently has this [the war] played out than you had hoped it would?

Ehlers: Very differently and precisely the wrong way from my perspective. And I’m not here to blast any particular group or person except for one person, because I argued directly with him, and that’s Mr. Paul Wolfowitz, who has been in the headlines lately for problems he’s having in the World Bank, his new job. He was second in command of the Pentagon and they would come in, give us briefings about the plans and so forth, and I talked to him twice after these briefings because I have lived abroad and I know how different cultures are in different countries and I didn’t see that he or anyone else in the Pentagon really understood the mentality of the Iraqi people, of the Arab people, and how they view this. And I, after one presentation, I said “Paul, I know that you can go in with the limited troops that you have, I know you can overthrow Saddam Hussein, and get him out of power, but what then?” And his answer just shocked me. He said, “Well, they’ll just be so happy to see us, so happy to get rid of Saddam Hussein, they’ll welcome us, we’ll just put together a new government, and we’ll leave.” And I said, “where’s the money going to come from for this?” And he said “From the oil revenues.” And I said to his face, twice, “You are incredibly naive, it just doesn’t happen that way when you invade another country, you know, you have to understand the culture of the people.”

Despite making these criticisms privately in 2003, in public Ehlers was a consistent supporter of the war, raising the prospect of a nuclear explosion over Calder Plaza that could kill 300,000 West Michigan residents. He voted to send the United States to Iraq in October of 2002, and in January of 2003, told the Grand Rapids Press that he predicated his vote “on whether he’s [Saddam Hussein] is likely to produce weapons of mass destruction.” With no weapons of mass destruction found, Ehlers has never publicly questioned the rationale for the war or commented on the intelligence distortions. Furthermore, Albin never brought up Ehlers’ voting record or his statements in support of the war.

Instead, Ehlers has defended the Bush administration’s Iraq policy. While he criticized Wolfowitz and the pre-war planning on “To the Point,” he had little criticism of the Bush administration’s policy. Ehlers defended “the surge,” responding to a question about its likely effectiveness by stating that he likes General Petraeus and his plan, stating that Petraeus is “working hard at improving the life for the Iraqis as a whole.” Ehlers offered no proof that this is the case, and host Rick Albin did not not ask for any proof, despite the fact that numerous reports have questioned the effectiveness of “the surge” and its ability to stabilize the country.

Ehlers once again asserted his belief that the United States cannot leave Iraq, but put a new spin on it when he explained that the United States has a moral obligation to stabilize Iraq. According to Representative Ehlers:

I think the basic issue is what is our responsibility to Iraq and to the Iraqi people. As far as I am concerned, we have gone in, we have made a huge mess, we’ve put a lot of people in danger, I think it is immoral for us to just say “ok, sorry, we’ve made a mess, your life is in danger but we’re going to leave, we can’t deal with it.” I think we have a moral obligation to try to stabilize the country, try to get a government established before we pull out.

Ehlers was not asked about whether or not the United States presence is driving much of the violence in Iraq, an argument that has been made frequently by those studying the motivations of the Iraqi insurgency. Additionally, while Ehlers is correct to assert that the United States has a responsibility to the Iraqi people, which it has as an occupying force under international law. However, Ehlers ignored the bigger question of what the United States’ legal obligations are in Iraq. Ehlers also argued that militarily it would not make sense to leave Iraq by announcing a withdrawal date because the enemy would “just wait us out, watch us leave, wave goodbye, and do their mischief.” Albin failed to follow up on who exactly “the enemy” is, although later in the program Ehlers mentioned “Islamic jihadists” and asserted that the United States’ presence in Iraq is “a huge issue as to how we are going to relate to the Middle East.”