The New York Times today joins the White House, the disingenuous Rightwing media and blogs, and even several unnamed supposed non-Rightwingers in purposely misconstruing Sen. Barbara Boxer's question to Condi Rice at last Thursday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Bush's new policy to escalate troop commitment in Iraq.
I reported on the controversy over the phony Boxer/Rice brouhaha yesterday here, after originally calling on a Congress member to ask the very question that Boxer asked (and which the Times ignored) last Sunday and again after Bush's speech on Wednesday night in the face of his supporting, yet callous, comments on the new policy that "we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties."
If the way in which the Times twisted the facts of the event was unintentional, the only alternative then is that the reporters who covered it, Helene Cooper and Thom Shanker, and the editors who allowed the article to go through, are utterly incapable of even the simplest intelligent analysis of a critical and relevant news event and, frankly, shouldn't be working for a paper as still-important to this country as the New York Times.
Picking up on the phony controversy over the prelude to Boxer's question of whether the White House had "an estimate of the number of casualties we expect from this surge?" --- the stunning answer from the Secretary of State, if she's to be believed, is that no, they did not --- the Times joined Fox "News" and NYPost and the other wingnut outlets in both twisting Boxer's comments and forwarding the unsupported notion that there was some sort of personal slur built into them.
The Times quotes Boxer's "offending" phrase --- one that even Rice admits not being offended at, until after the White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow, suggested the comments were "outrageous" later on --- as follows:
Wow! The height of personal rudeness! Boxer really smacked down Rice for not being married and having no children! A comment which several suddenly-"feminist" Rightwing outlets characterized as "One Great Leap (Backwards) for Womankind!" just after Snow coincidentally called it a "great leap backward for feminism" in his official response.
Problem is, the way the Times characterized the "controversy" in the graf reposted above leaves out the rest of Boxer's comment and thus takes it completely out of context. Here's what she actually said in the lead-up to her important all-but-ignored question and response from Rice:
Even Rice admitted in her comments to the Times that "It didn't actually dawn on me that she was saying, 'you don’t have children who can go to war'."
Of course it didn't actually "dawn on" you, Ms. Rice. Because it didn't actually happen that way.
At least until Tony Snow took the opportunity to brilliantly turn the focus away from both Rice's answer revealing that the White House hadn't bothered to measure the cost in increased deaths to U.S. troops before announcing their new policy ("Senator, I don't think that any of us, uh, have a number. That, of expected casualties.") and from the fact that both Republicans and Democrats alike on the Senate committee were highly critical of the White House escalation plan for the Iraq War.
Snow's comments, of course, were the marching orders to the various Rightwing outlets who were all too happy to twist Boxer's comments in the very same way. They all "reported" the exchange in the same phony context the following day (as I previously described here.)
While attacking the messenger to completely distract from the message is a time-honored and well-expected tactic from this White House and their sycophantic supporters, it continues to be distressing to see the once-great "Paper of Record" irresponsibly pick up that ball and run in the same disingenuous direction. Who needs Judith Miller?
To make matters worse, not only did the Times manage to only quote the mangled "analysis" of "Conservative" blogs and commentators in their coverage of the exchange, they even misrepresented a group which, at the first blush of the Times description of them, would seem indicate that they would have been an ally of Boxer's.
Appearing to defect from support of the Democratic Senator is a group called Project 21. The Times characterized the statement of a member of the group this way...