We have noted before that the Associated Press has become a part of the John Kerry campaign. This morning, many readers have directed our attention to this astonishing AP story titled “Bush Twists Kerry’s Words on Iraq”.
Yes, you read that right. This is not a Kerry campaign press release; it is an Associated Press story that will be reprinted in hundreds, maybe thousands, of American newspapers.
Well. Let’s see how President Bush has “twisted Kerry’s words.” Here is the first example cited by AP reporter Jennifer Loven:
President Bush opened several new scathing lines of attack against Democrat John Kerry, charges that twisted his rival’s words on Iraq and made Kerry seem supportive of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.
He stated flatly that Kerry had said earlier in the week “he would prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to the situation in Iraq today.” But Kerry never said that. In a speech at New York University on Monday, he called Saddam “a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell.” He added, “The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.”
So how exactly has Bush twisted Kerry’s words? Kerry constantly criticizes the Iraq war on the ground that “we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.” I don’t see any way to understand this except as meaning that Kerry thinks Iraq under Saddam was preferable to Iraq as it is today–or, as Bush said, “he would prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to the situation in Iraq today.”
Ms. Loven’s second example is simply inexplicable. She writes:
Bush attacked Kerry for calling “our alliance ‘the alliance of the coerced and the bribed.'”
Kerry did use the phrase to describe the U.S.-led coalition of nations in Iraq, in a March 2003 speech in California. He was referring to the administration’s willingness to offer aid to other nations to gain support for its Iraq policies.
But Bush mischaracterized Kerry’s criticism, which has not been aimed at the countries that have contributed a relatively small number of troops and resources, but at the administration for not gaining more participation from other nations.
Ms. Loven’s criticism of President Bush makes no sense. She says that Kerry’s reference to “the coerced and the bribed” has “not been aimed at the countries that have contributed…troops and resources….” Really? Then whom was it aimed at? Who was “coerced” and who was “bribed”? Not the U.S.; not France or Russia. Obviously, when Kerry derided the “coerced and the bribed,” he was referring to–and insulting–our Iraq allies. Ms. Loven’s argument is absurd.
Here is Loven’s final example of Bush’s “twisting” Kerry’s words:
Bush also suggested Kerry was undercutting an ally in a time of need, and thus unfit to be president, when he “questioned the credibility” of Iraqi interim leader Ayad Allawi.
Kerry’s point was that the optimistic assessments of postwar Iraq from both Bush and Allawi didn’t match previous statements by the Iraqi leader, nor the reality on the ground, and were designed to put the “best face” on failed policies.
So…where exactly is the “twisting” of Kerry’s words? Here is Kerry’s complete quote:
I think the prime minister is obviously contradicting his own statement of a few days ago, where he said the terrorists are pouring into the country. The prime minister and the president are here obviously to put their best face on the policy, but the fact is that the CIA estimates, the reporting, the ground operations and the troops all tell a different story.
So Kerry said that Prime Minister Allawi had contradicted himself; he also said that Allawi’s assessment of his own country contradicted the CIA, American newspaper reporters, the “ground operations” and the troops. In other words, Kerry “questioned the credibility” of Allawi, exactly as Bush said.
In short, Ms. Loven is not able to cite a single instance where Bush “twisted Kerry’s words on Iraq.”
Having devoted nearly her entire article to falsely accusing President Bush of misrepresenting Kerry’s statements, in her final paragraphs Loven writes, “That’s not to say Kerry hasn’t been playing fast and loose with Bush’s words,” and offers one example where Kerry’s campaign flatly misrepresented what Bush said in a speech. So the AP’s headline could accurately have said: “Kerry Campaign Misquotes Bush; Bush Accurately Characterizes Kerry’s Position on Iraq.”
Needless to say, it didn’t.
UPDATE: A number of readers have written to point out that the AP has changed its headline; it now says: “Bush, Kerry Twisting Each Other’s Words.” That’s a little better, but still wrong, as the article documents no instances of such “twisting” by President Bush.
FURTHER UPDATE: A reader has written to point out some interesting facts about Jennifer Loven’s hit piece. Check it out:
In Georgetown’s East Village, Roger Ballentine and his wife Jennifer Loven have sold their quaint two bedroom semi- detached Federal house at 1346 29th Street, N.W.
Roger Ballentine is president of Green Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in energy and environmental issues, and was previously deputy assistant to President Clinton for environmental initiatives and chairman of the White House Climate Change Task Force. He also sits on the board of directors of Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF)along with actors Ed Begley, Jr. and Larry Hagman. Jennifer Loven is a reporter for the Associated Press.
Here is a sample of Mr. Ballentine’s writing, for New Democrats Online:
Given President Bush’s persistent unwillingness to tackle the problem of global warming, it falls to Congress to find ways to address the looming threat.
Do you suppose Mr. Ballentine has a candidate in this year’s Presidential contest? Why, he does indeed. In fact he is quoted as one of John Kerry’s leading supporters on Kerry’s own website!
When Bill Clinton needed support on tough and politically difficult issues like climate change, the one person we could always count on was John Kerry. He came to every round of negotiations over the Kyoto Protocol all around the world and was a strong voice for action. He was always out-numbered by corporate lobbyists and opponents of environmental progress, but he never back down. He not only has vision, he has guts.
What a nice couple. Ballentine is an open, above-ground supporter of the Kerry campaign; Loven promotes Kerry covertly by smearing President Bush on behalf of the Associated Press. And thousands of newspapers print AP articles on the naive assumption that they are factual and objective.
Complaints about AP articles should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be disappointed if our readers don’t generate at least 10,000 emails on Loven’s hit piece.
ONE MORE THING: Reader Kevin Maguire makes a good point:
Remember when Johnathon Klein said that perhaps we should be looking into the background and associations of the bloggers?
I’ve been saying that quote would come around and bite him in the [rear end] when it started to occur to people that maybe we should know the background and associates of the reporters and their editors and producers — like Ms. Loven’s, for example.