May 28, 2003

Maureen Won't Come Clean So

Maureen Won't Come Clean

So how does Maureen Dowd of the NYT handle the greatly misleading treatment of a Dubya quote per her May 14th column (insinuating that Dubya had declared the war on terror won)? She (two weeks later) prints the President's comments in full--without in any way acknowledging the misleading nature of her earlier treatment of the relevant quote and then (rather amazingly) further compounding her erroneous analysis of Bush's comments:

Dowd on May 28th:

"After the war, the triumphal administration bragged about its Iraqi, Taliban and Qaeda scalps, painting our enemies as being in retreat.

"Al Qaeda is on the run," the president said in Little Rock, Ark. "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."

But Al Qaeda, it became horrifyingly clear a week later in Riyadh, was not decimated; it was sufficiently undecimated to murder 34 people, injure 200 and scare the daylights out of Americans everywhere."

Dowd on May 14th:

"Busy chasing off Saddam, the president and vice president had told us that al-Qaida was spent. "Al-Qaida is on the run," President Bush said last week. "That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated . . . They're not a problem anymore."

The crucial omission, as has been extensively commented upon in the blogosphere, is the sentence: "Right now, about half of all the top Al Qaeda operatives are either jailed or dead." These are the terrorists that Dubya was stating were being "slowly but surely" decimated--not simply "decimated" as Dowd incorrectly represents in her column today.

But rather than issue a correction--Dowd attempts to sidle out of her misleading column of May 14th by now quoting the President correctly--but still suggesting that the President represented that al-Qaeda was decimated (or vanquished, licked, beaten, trounced, "on the run" etc.)--a gross misrepresentation.

Not only is she just too stubborn to admit error (especially, perhaps, during this time of troubles at the Times), but she's also seemingly arrogant enough to continue to misrepresent the President's remarks.

So let's be perfectly clear. A leading columnist in the leading newspaper in the land continues to insinuate that the President has declared victory in the war on terror--the dominant theme of his entire Presidency--when in fact he hasn't. She repeats this error twice in two weeks. Howell Raines seemingly doesn't raise a whimper--this during a period when he should be extremely diligent regarding his editorial duties given Jayson Blair and Rick Bragg. Would Abe Rosenthal have tolerated this amateurism? Will Raines be reprimanded in any significant fashion? No and no, I wager.

Note: Remember too Dowd's conclusion to her May 14th op-ed that has been talked with less frequency than her misquoting the President:

"Doing a buddy routine with Rummy on Tuesday in Washington, as the defense secretary accepted an award, Vice President Dick Cheney was as implacable as ever. "The only way to deal with this threat ultimately is to destroy it," he said. So destroy it."

So destroy it? Just like that, an easy, no-brainer task--perhaps consummated in the time it takes Dowd to pen another one of her Rummy-Cheney-hand-holding-Prince-George-columns?

Rather than occasionally issue an appreciative note in her insufferably whiney columns that no attack has taken place on the American homeland in the almost two years that have passed since 9/11, Dowd glibly advises the Vice President to "destroy it." Believe me Maureen, he's doing a much better job of dismantling al-Qaeda than your buddies' political favorites at W. 43rd Street ever would.

UPDATE: Minuteman writes in with a further detail. Dowd's machinations are even more egregious when you look at what Dubya said directly after the language quoted above:

"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. And we'll stay on the hunt. To make sure America is a secure country, the al Qaeda terrorists have got to understand it doesn't matter how long it's going to take, they will be brought to justice." [my emphasis]

Sure doesn't sound like Crawford triumphalism to me.

Posted by Gregory at May 28, 2003 08:26 AM
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