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The birth of a myth.(4 posts)

The birth of a myth.DJB
May 23, 2003 9:04 AM
Watch for this one soon from our lovable resident spinmeister --


"An outrageous new falsehood is circulating about President Bush. Last week, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd misrepresented a Bush statement to imply that he said the Al Qaeda terrorist network is "not a problem anymore," and the distorted quotation has since been repeated by MSNBC "Buchanan and Press" co-host Bill Press, CNN's Miles O'Brien and others, including numerous foreign press outlets. At a time when the New York Times is under fire for its conduct in the Jayson Blair scandal, Dowd's creation of an exploding media myth is cause for serious concern.

In her May 14 column (which was reprinted in newspapers around the country), Dowd wrote the following:

Busy chasing off Saddam Hussein, the president and vice president had told us that Al Qaeda was spent. "Al Qaeda is on the run," President George W. Bush said last week. "That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated," he added. "They're not a problem anymore."
But as Andrew Sullivan first pointed out on his website (and later in his Washington Times column), these quotes was taken wildly out of context from a May 5 speech in Arkansas in which Bush said this:

Al Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. Right now, about half of all the top Al Qaeda operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem anymore.
Bush was obviously saying that the Al Qaeda operatives who "are either jailed or dead" are "not a problem anymore," not that Al Qaeda itself is "not a problem."

That didn't stop Press, who repeated Dowd's distorted quotation verbatim twice on the day it was published. During the 3 PM EST show, Press presented the quote to guest Christopher Whitcomb:

Chris, I want to read you something we were told last week. And I quote -- "Al Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. They're not a problem anymore. " That's what President Bush told the nation.
During the 6 PM show, Press added, "[Bush] said last week about the Al Qaeda, 'Al Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. They're not a problem any more.'"

CNN's Miles O'Brien also parroted the quotation that day in an interview on CNN's "Live From" (which was contested by his guest, Cliff May of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies):

O'BRIEN: Cliff May, last week, the president said 'Al Qaeda is on the run. The group of terrorists who attacked our country [is] slowly but surely being decimated. They're not a problem anymore.' Maybe not so?
MAY: Well, I don't recall the president saying 'not a problem anymore.'
The next day, the Sacramento Bee denounced Bush in an editorial for his supposed "statement the other day -- a few days before terrorist bombs killed eight Americans and many others in Saudi Arabia -- that the al-Qaida terrorists 'are not a problem anymore.' They are." The Roanoke Times (Virginia) made a similar claim on the same day, quoting Bush as saying "Al-Qaida is on the run.... They're not a problem, anymore" but claiming that "the Riyadh bombings - which killed at least 20 people, including at least seven Americans - suggest otherwise."

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This falsehood has also been repeated in a wide array of foreign news reports and op-eds: The Straits Times of Singapore (5/15), The Irish Times (5/16), The Sydney Morning Herald (5/17) and Courier Mail (5/18) in Australia, Toronto Star in Canada (5/18), Gulf News of the United Arab Emirates (5/19), Canada's National Post (5/20) and Winnipeg Sun/Edmonton Sun (5/21) and, finally, The Irish Times again (5/21).

Critics have every right to object to Bush's statement if they believe it mischaracterizes the threat from Al Qaeda. But they also have a responsibility to ac
Save you some trouble, dude.OldEdScott
May 23, 2003 9:11 AM
http://forums.consumerreview.com/crforum?viewall@@.efcd37c
Sorry about that...DJB
May 23, 2003 9:23 AM
Must have missed that one.

But it was interesting to see who was the first to respond (and what you led with) --

"the really important thing you were too modest to point out is, in the storied history of right wing journalism/commentary, NOT ONE TIME has a reactionary Republican columnist used ellipses erroneously or misleadingly. NOT ONCE. Never happened."

That's not quite the "VRWC", but close enough.

BTW, excellent change of subject to get the thread into a discussion of Coulter. Well done!
If the dog has your ankleOldEdScott
May 23, 2003 9:40 AM
throw a meatbone out the door.