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What Foreign Policy “Debate” Means on “Face the Nation”

CBS’ Face the Nation is the most-watched Sunday morning news television show in the U.S., attracting roughly 3 million viewers each week. On this Sunday morning, the show is focused on foreign policy, as it interviews Ben Carson, Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham on the issues of ISIS and refugees. As it always does, the program has assembled a panel of “experts” to discuss those matters; one of them, Jeffrey Goldberg, proudly announced its composition this morning:

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In addition to host John Dickerson and Goldberg himself, the rest of the panel is composed of former Bush 43 speechwriter and current Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, and former Bush 41 speechwriter and current Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan.

Aside from the glaring demographic homogeneity — all middle-aged-or-older white people who have spent their careers in corporatized Washington establishments — there is a suffocating ideological and viewpoint homogeneity on this panel as well, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. All of the panelists, for instance, were vocal, aggressive advocates of the invasion of Iraq (as were all three GOP presidential candidates featured on this morning’s show).

Goldberg, in a 2006 profile of Gerson, wrote that “Gerson, like Bush, has never wavered. ‘The people of the Middle East are not exceptions to this great trend of history, and, by standing up for these things, we are on the right side of history,’ he said.” Ignatius repeatedly used his Post platform to argue for the war: Eight months after the invasion, he wrote a gushing profile of Paul Wolfowitz (“a rare animal in Washington — a genuine intellectual in a top policymaking job”) and decreed, “This may be the most idealistic war fought in modern times”; in 2004, he proclaimed, “I don’t regret my support for toppling Hussein.” Noonan, in February 2003, told Slate: “I have come to the conclusion that we must move. I do not imagine an invasion will be swift and produce minimal losses. But I believe not stepping in is, at this point, more dangerous than stepping in.”

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