Like her fellow Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd will tell she doesn’t approve of misleading the public.
With that in mind, consider the following from a May 15, 2003 Times Watch post:
Columnist Maureen Dowd dishonestly quotes President Bush to make him look wrong about the dangers posed by Al Qaeda terrorists [.]
In “Osama’s Offspring,” Dowd uses the Al Qaeda bombings in Riyadh Monday night to accuse the Bush administration of carrying an attitude of “lulling triumphalism” over Al Qaeda.
“Busy chasing off Saddam,” Dowd writes, “the president and vice president had told us that Al Qaeda was spent. ‘Al Qaeda 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.’”
Bush said no such thing, and Dowd knows it. In fact, Dowd uses ellipses…to hide the truth. As reader Robert Cox brought to my attention, here’s what Bush actually said in Arkansas May 5:
“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. (Applause.) 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.” (bold added)
Notice the third sentence of Bush’s speech: It’s clear Bush is only talking about the top Al Qaeda operatives that “are either jailed or dead” as being “not a problem anymore”--not the Al Qaeda organization itself.
Dowd dishonestly deleted that sentence and the first three words of the next one to make Bush “ say” Al Qaeda was no longer a threat. Bush’s additional assertion “it doesn’t matter how long it’s going to take, they will be brought to justice” makes it clear Bush considers the war on Al Qaeda an ongoing one.
Meanwhile, Dowd carries on a rear-guard action against the truth.
Folks, as you'd quess, there was more to come.
On May 22, just eight days after the Times published Dowd’s falsehood, blogger Brendan Nyhan at Spinsanity informed readers:
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 accurately represent what the President actually said, rather than repeating Dowd's distorted quotation.
The New York Times - and the other outlets that have disseminated the myth - should let their readers know the full context of Bush's statement.
The rapid spread of this myth is yet another sad commentary on the state of American political journalism.
The Times has never added a correction to Dowd’s May 14, 2003 column as you can see by viewing the column at the NYT's site here.
Meanwhile, Dowd continues to excoriate President Bush and members of his administration for what Dowd says were statements misleading the public.
Dowd's an unrepentant deceiver.