THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2003
SLICING APPLE: Here at THE HOWLER, weve long bashed Johnny Apple too. In January 2000, the Timesman offered truly comical thoughts about the shape of the Iowa caucuses (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/21/00). In September 2000, he gave a ludicrous account of polling in Ohio, which we debunked at SpeakOut.com. And his 1999 profiles of Candidates Bush and Gore were marvels of Official Press Corps CW; Apple lavished praise on the Madras Cowboy, Bush (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/17/99), and rolled his eyes at Hapless Gore. Conservative pundits had no complaints when the Timesman penned that prize press corps palaver. Nor did they moan when Apple praised Bushs error-strewn performance at Bush-Gore Debate I (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/22/02). This was another Standard Spin which Apple served and the pundits munched down.
But bashing Apple has become de rigeurand its getting more phony and fake by the minute. As usual, Brit Hume took things around the bend last night, presiding on Special Report. Those savvy all-stars were letting us know who had been rightand wrongon the war. Brit cited Johnny. Its the law:
HUME: Let me mention one other person who deserves special mention. And its R.W. Johnny Apple, legendary reporter of the New York Times. This is what he wrote today! News of fierce fighting in Hilla, 50 miles south of Baghdad, and on the eastern and southern sides of the capital belies talk of collapse. [End of statement]Wow! Apple had been crazily wrong once again! (The exclamation point is right in the Fox transcript!) As usual, Morton Kondracke and Michael Barone were savvy enough to pile on:
KONDRACKE (continuing directly): Poor Johnny Apple has been so wrong about this because he has a Vietnam quagmire image of what happens when America goes to war. I mean he was Vietnam War correspondent and he cant get that defeat out of his head.All Standard Spin-Points were duly expressed. Poor Johnny Apple had done it again!
Unfortunately, Hume had clipped Apples quote in an extremely slick fashion. One would have thought from Humes presentation that Apple was still predicting defeat! In fact, Apples News Analysis was headlined Bushs War Message: Strong and Clear, and the scribe did not see defeat near at hand. Here was Apples overview of the military situation:
APPLE: As Mr. Bush spoke this morning, British troops moved almost unhindered through Basra, and American troops had thrown a noose around Baghdad. Infantrymen from the Third Division held a long stretch of the west bank of the Tigris River in the heart of the capital and several of Saddam Husseins palaces. The Iraqi Planning and Information Ministries were burning.Military victory begets political strength, he continued. Mr. Bush has carried the country with him, and most of the second-guessers among Washingtons policy experts are keeping their voices down these days.
Was Johnny Apple proclaiming defeat? Sorry. Apple proclaimed Bushs military victoryand Hume was just faking once again. Eventually, Apple assessed the position of anti-war voices, and we finally reached the part of his piece which Hume so baldly distorted:
APPLE: [A]ntiwar forces must now bear the additional burden of arguing with success. American losses are relatively small: 96 dead to date, compared with 200 a day at the height of the Vietnam War.Once again, Apple described the success of the war in Iraqsuccess which antiwar voices would now have to argue. But Hume was determined to spin his viewers, so he got out his clippers and started distorting. Indeed, Hume was too baldly dishonest even to quote a single complete sentence from Apple. He used the part of that final sentence where Apple described continued fighting. He dropped the part of the very same sentence where Apple noted that Iraqi commanders were on the way out.
For the record, Apple wasnt the only observer who noted that fighting persisted. Even today, Cent Com spokesmen are warning one and all that the fighting is far from done. But Hume was fighting another warthe sleazy, dishonest propaganda war increasingly fought inside your press corps. It isnt the first time hes played this slick gameand theres no reason to think its the last.
TOMORROW: Mocking Barryand quagmires are fun.
CONNOLLY: Just to be fair, thoughand look, far be it from the Washington Post person sitting at this table to come to the defense of our main competitionbut to be fair, for anybody who didnt read that full story today, it was reallyfirst of all, it was an analysis, and it was full of very positive things that he had to say throughout.Sadly, that was the full discussion. Connolly put up a partial defense, but viewers had no way of knowing the truth. Humerapidly becoming a pure propagandisthad baldly deceived them once again.