Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Since last night I've been reading about the White House's battle with NBC and I think I must be suffering from early-onset dementia -- I'm having trouble getting my mind around what the hell has the Bushies so worked up.

TVNewswer reports:

...White House counselor Ed Gillespie sent a letter to NBC regarding an NBC News report that used, "deceitful editing to further a media-manufactured storyline."

Gillespie took exception with the interview by Richard Engel of President George W. Bush that aired last night on the NBC Nightly News. He says it was edited, "to give viewers the impression that (Bush) agreed with (correspondent Richard Engel's) characterization of his remarks when he explicitly challenged it." ...

At the TVNewswer link you can watch edited and unedited versions of the interview, and see the allegedly deceitful editing.

But what the hell is so deceitful? Gillespie says the edit gives the impression that Bush agrees with Engel, but the edited version includes Bush's sentence

You know, my policies haven't changed, but evidently the political calendar has.

How does including a quote in which Bush says he's restating a long-standing belief deceitfully suggest the opposite point?

Here's what happens. Engel asks,

You said that negotiating with Iran is pointless, and then you went further -- you said it was appeasement. Were you referring to Senator Barack Obama?

Bush's answer as edited:

You know, my policies haven't changed, but evidently the political calendar has.... And when, you know, a leader of Iran says that they want to destroy Israel, you've got to take those words seriously.

Here's the full Bush answer:

You know, my policies haven't changed, but evidently the political calendar has. People need to read the speech. You didn't get it exactly right, either. What I said was is that we need to take the words of people seriously. And when, you know, a leader of Iran says that they want to destroy Israel, you've got to take those words seriously. And if you don't take them seriously, then it harkens back to a day when we didn't take other words seriously. It was fitting that I talked about not taking the words of Adolf Hitler seriously on the floor of the Knesset. But I also talked about the need to defend Israel, the need to not negotiate with the likes of al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas. And the need to make sure Iran doesn't get a nuclear weapon.

Where's the deception? Where's the manufactured storyline?

Gillespie's e-mail to NBC says:

This answer makes clear: (1). The President's remarks before the Knesset were not different from past policy statements, but are now being looked at through a political prism, (2). Corrects the inaccurate premise of Engel's question by putting the "appeasement" line in the proper context of taking the words of leaders seriously, not "negotiating with Iran," (3). Restates the U.S.'s long-standing policy positions against negotiating with al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas, and not allowing Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Well, the edited version also makes point (1) clear. Point (3) is just additional information NBC reasonably chose not to include.

The only significant nuance lost -- perhaps -- is in (2). The Bushies want us to know that there are some circumstances under which they actually will negotiate with Iran. Gillespie goes on to quote a follow-up question and answer NBC edited out, about which he says,

This response reiterates another long-standing policy, which is that if Iran verifiably suspends its uranium enrichment program the U.S. government would engage in talks with the Iranian government.

So, OK: Bush doesn't think it would always be incredibly dangerous to negotiate with Iran -- Bush thinks it would be incredibly dangerous right now.

This is worthy of a vendetta?


First the Bushies ginned up a phony war, fought by pundit and blogger surrogates, in which charges of delusional thinking were leveled at any of us who uttered the plain truth that Bush's Knesset speech was aimed at Obama (a truthinitially acknowledged by White House aides themselves). Now it's clear that the White House is so invested in this phony war, so convinced of its usefulness, that Ed Gillespie is desperately trying to keep it going far past its expiration date with this message to NBC.

This is what these guys do all day, on our dime, instead of actually trying to run the country properly.


UPDATE: In comments here and in a post at If I Ran the Zoo, Aimai scratches her head in response to another part of the Gillespie e-mail, which decries NBC's references to an Iraqi "civil war." Aimai:

Do they seriously think that if NBC got on the air and said "there is no civil war" that people would go "oh, ok then!"? Plus the letter reaches right back tot he start of the war and references things that happened in the fall of 2007, it just goes to show how little they have moved, intellectually, while the country has just given up on their little war.

Or at least it shows that they'll grasp at any straw in their effort to pick this fight.

Also in the comments at IIRTZ, Julia links all this to the "O'Reilly/Ailes/Murdoch-Olberman/GE feud" -- which suggests (to me at least) that the White House thought it won the 2004 election in part by running against Michael Moore and thinks it can win this year running against Keith Olbermann (who's name-checked in the last paragraph of the Gillespie e-mail, along with, bizarrely,"Christopher Matthews").

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