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8 December 1999

A Howler extra: Lie boys

Synopsis: Have we ever used the word "liar" before? Today we do, of the Washington Times.

Al Gore and the Love Canal
Editorial, The Washington Times, 12/7/99

Gore explains Love Canal remark
AP, The Washington Times, 12/2/99

Have we ever used the term "liar" before? Today we do, of the Washington Times. On Tuesday morning—the very same day the cross-town Post published a grumbling correction of its phony Gore quote—the feisty Times said this in an editorial:

THE WASHINGTON TIMES (12/7): While speaking at a high school forum in New Hampshire, Mr. Gore seemed to take credit for discovering a famous toxic waste cite. An Associated Press reporter quoted Mr. Gore as saying, with apparent seriousness, "I found a little place in upstate called Love Canal..." The AP story went on to describe the vice president as bragging that he'd held "the first hearing on that issue" and that "I was the one that started it all." [Deletion by the Times]

What is so remarkable about that statement? Last week's AP story in the Washington Times didn't say that at all. Here is the text from last week's story:

AP/THE WASHINGTON TIMES (12/2): A girl wrote [Gore] that her father and grandfather suffered mysterious ailments she blamed on well water that "tasted funny."

"I called for a congressional investigation and a hearing. I looked around the country for other places like that. I found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal. Had the first hearing on that issue," Mr. Gore said.

"That was the one that started it all...We made a huge difference and it was all because one high school student got involved." [Deletion by the Times]

That's right, folks. The AP story that ran in the Times last week had quoted Gore correctly.

So understand what seems to have happened. The Washington Times ran an AP story that didn't have the Seelye/Connolly phony quote. Days passed, and no one corrected the phony quote; an editor at the Washington Post was saying it all meant the same thing. Meanwhile, everyone else was having fun, bruiting the perfect, phony quote around. So on Tuesday—the very same day the grumbling Post managed to correct its bogus quote—on the same day the Post went from wrong to right, the Times made the opposite transition.

We've been telling you for a good long while that the press corps is in the business of making up stories it likes. Once again we've called Howard Kurtz and told him he has to report on this. We'll let you know if it happens.