Media Blog

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell Botches Report, Correction on Petraeus Briefing

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell has been on something of a roll lately. First, while appearing on The Chris Matthews Show last Sunday, she delivered this erroneous report about a briefing Gen. David Petraeus supposedly held for only Republicans:

ANDREA MITCHELL: Excuse me, Chris, but Petraeus went to the Republican caucus and told them, `I will have real progress to you by August.’ They told him, `We’ll stick with you…’

This sent left-leaning bloggers into a tizzy over the possibility that Petraeus was holding Republicans-only briefings. That was Monday. Then, on Hardball yesterday, Mitchell reversed course:

MATTHEWS: What is Petraeus, General Petraeus saying over there about — what`s he been telling people about that?
MITCHELL: Well, it`s a good thing you bring that out. He`s been telling senators — he had, in fact, a closed-circuit briefing for the senators, Democrats as well as Republicans, and he is telling them that he will report some progress, that he hopes to be able to report some progress by August. And in turn, what many Republican senators are saying, Chris, is that if there isn`t real progress by the end of the summer, that`s when there are going to really break with the president, that they`re going along with this surge out of respect for the generals. But in his closed briefing — they went over to the Pentagon and had that briefing, Democrats as well as Republican senators, and he made it clear to them that he thinks he can report some progress.

Suddenly, according to Mitchell, Democrats were at the briefing too. So what really happened?
In fact, Democrats were invited to the March 8th briefing Mitchell is probably describing, but they never showed up. House Minority Leader John Boehner even criticized the Dems for not attending the briefing in one of his press releases from that day:

Boehner Statement Opposing Democrats’ Road Map for Terrorists
Not a Single House Democratic Leader Attended General Petraeus’ First Progress Report Briefing This Morning
WASHINGTON, DC – Today House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) responded to the latest proposal by House Democrats explicitly designed to hamstring the ability of American troops to succeed in the Global War on Terror:
“General Petraeus, not Speaker Pelosi or John Murtha, should be making military decisions based on conditions on the ground. Democrats are using a critical troop funding bill to micromanage the war on terror, undermine our generals on the ground, and slowly choke off resources for our troops. Under the guise of supporting our troops, Democrats are actually mandating their failure.
“By establishing – and telegraphing to our enemy – arbitrary timelines for withdrawal, Democrats are providing little more than a road map for terrorists, a tool they will use to plot their maneuvers against American forces. Tying equipment and resources to a series of conditions and expectations amounts to little more than a revised version of the previous ‘slow-bleed’ strategy supported by Democratic Leaders. Democrats have made it clear that whether or not our troops are able to meet Democrats’ expectations, their funding and resources will dry up. Choking off resources for our troops is tantamount to handing the enemy victory itself.
“Republicans will continue to stand united behind our generals and our troops for victory in the global war on terror, and will oppose Democrats’ road map for terrorists. We will not jeopardize the safety and security of American families, or that of those to come in future generations, by giving our generals and our troops anything less than our full and unfettered support.”
NOTE: This morning, General Petraeus briefed congressional leaders from Baghdad live via satellite feed, providing them with an assessment of the situation on the ground, outlining the successes of the new plan to date, and some of the challenges that lie ahead. Not a single Democratic Leader from the House attended to receive the General’s first progress report.

Both Mitchell’s initial report and subsequent correction appear to be wrong.

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