TUESDAY, JANUARY 20TH, 2004
NONE DARE CALL IT JOURNALISM: What were Wesley Clarks real-time views on Iraq? Last week, the press corps pretended to examine the question. Try to believe that this was said on Thursdays Lou Dobbs Tonight:
DOBBS (1/15/04): General Wesley Clark today said Congress should determine whether President Bush was criminal by advocating a war against Saddam Hussein. He said the president misled the American public on the issue of Iraq. General Clark, likes to say he has been a consistent opponent of the war in Iraq but the reality appears to be much less clear.As reported by the Drudge Report? Clarks Senate testimony is hardly a secret, something Drudge was forced to dredge up. Indeed, Clarks testimony has been publicly available ever since the day he gave it. Allegedly, Dobbs runs a CNN news program; he and his staff could have examined Clarks testimony any time they chose to. Instead, they waited till Drudge tossed out some selective quotes, then reported the story as if it were news. For the record, Drudges selective quotes were simultaneously released bywho else?the RNC.
For the record, other alleged journalists ran on the air with the selective quotes from Drudge (and the RNC), but few were this eager to tell the world that theyre really just Drudges script-readers. We suggested, some time ago, that Clarks real-time views on Iraq should be limned. But that would have taken an act of journalism. Instead, Dobbs waited for Drudge to hand him his script, then he ran on the air and he read it. By the way: Do you see why it takes a fool to keep reciting that hoary old tale, liberal bias?
PRAVDA ON THE POTOMAC: Does the press corps tear up all White House hopefuls? Pundits love reciting this tale, but it just plain isnt true. Last week, we noted the way the press ignored the story of Bushs National Guard service when he ran for president in 2000 (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/15/04). And presto! Over the weekend, the corps continued to mislead the public about this endlessly down-pedaled tale. Last Saturday, Michael Moore dubbed Bush a deserter in an appearance with Wesley Clark. This remark led a few news outlets to describe what Moore could have meant.
And how these pundits did describe it! In Sundays Post, the dean of all punditsDavid Brodergave this cleaned-up account of the problem:
BRODER (1/18/04): The Boston Globe reported in 2000 that there is strong evidence that Bush performed no military service as required when he moved from Houston to Alabama to work on a U.S. Senate campaign from May to November 1972.What might readers have thought after reading that passage? They might have thought that a seven- or eight-month period was at issue, and that Deall had claimed that Bush met requirements before that period ended. But Broders account understates the real problema problem the press has never tried to resolve. Meanwhile, the Associated Press released a baldly inaccurate story, one which downplayed the problem even more.
What did the Boston Globe report? Broder quotes from Walter Robinsons 10/31/00 Globe storya follow-up on a more detailed 5/23/00 report. But according to Robinson, the apparent problem with Bushs service extended well past November 1972. What follows is a fuller passage from Robinsons story. Plainly, the Globe asserted a much larger problem than the one Broder described:
ROBINSON (10/31/00): Whats more, a Bush campaign spokesman acknowledged last week that he knows of no witnesses who can attest to Bushs attendance at drills after he returned to Houston in late 1972 and before his early release from the Guard in September 1973.Broders account is accurate, but quite Bush-friendly. He doesnt say that Bush was suspended for non-performance during the seven-month bama sojourn. But beyond that, the Globe asserted that documents and recollections of officers raise questions about whether Bush performed any duty between April 1972 and September 1973 (our emphasis). As such, the Globes actual claims went well beyond the seven-month period Broder cites. (The Dallas article was written in the spring of 2000, and was based on less research than the Globe later provided.) Meanwhile, one final point: according to Deall, officials believe that Bush met minimum drill requirements before his discharge in September 1973. Broders readers might well think something much more Bush-friendly. They might think that Bush was believed to have met requirements during that earlier, seven-month period. Plainly, thats not what Deall said.
Broder downplays the matters at issue. But Broder was a vicious muck-raker compared to the Associated Press Tom Raum. On Saturday, Raum wrote an AP story about Moores remarks. Incredibly, this was his full account of the controversy about Bushs service:
RAUM (1/17/04): The exchange recalled a controversy that was an element of the 2000 presidential campaign.Incredibly, Raums readers have now been told that there is only a three-month period at issue. Since he wrote the official AP account, Raums report almost surely ran in newspapers all over the country.
Does the corps tear up all the hopefuls? As we noted a few months ago, the corps fled from this topic during Campaign 2000, and totally dropped it after that (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/26/03). Now, Raum presents a baldly inaccurate account of the matter, and Broders accountwhile technically accurateis as friendly to Bush as it can accurately be. After November 2000, the press corps never made the slightest attempt to sort out the issues involved in this story. No, Virginia, they dont go after all the hopefuls. And do you see why it takes a fool to assert that theyre gripped by that vile liberal bias?
BURN, BABY, BEIRNE: If its cold in New York, is global warming all wet? In fact, many readers wrote to remind us that warming theory predicts increased extreme weather of all varieties. Almost no pundit is really prepared to discuss the science of climate change. But even our current slackers and harlequins know that a few days of snow in New York cant cool off the fever about warming.
But clowning clowns of the pseudo-con press united when Gore gave his speech about warming (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/16/04). It was cold outside, so Gore had been burned. Indeed, to Kate OBeirne of the Capital Gang, Gores speech was the outrage of the week:
MARK SHIELDS (1/17/04): Kate OBeirne.Theres little chance that Kate has a clue about the science of climate change. But she eagerly joined in the clowning clownistry which seemed to be the real rage last week.