WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2003
CONDI MISUNDERESTIMATES: Is anyone more clueless than Condi Riceor more immune to press criticism? In this mornings Washington Post, Al Kamen relates her latest groaner. According to Kamen, Rice told a British reporter that the Bush Admin had underestimated how really awful Saddam Hussein was to his own people. That may seem a bit surprising. But heres how it happened, Rice said:
KAMEN: I know its hard to believe that you could underestimate that, Rice said. But when you look at an infrastructure that looked gleaming, if you looked at pictures of Baghdadbut when you think about it, it was pictures of presidential palacesand you look instead at the living conditions of people in Basra or in Sadr City; if you look at the fact that the electrical power grid was serving really only 50 percent of the country; if you look at the fact that there were large parts of the country with no sewage, yes, this is a hard task.Maybe Kamen is making this up. Maybe its April Fool in September. Because no one could believe that Rice really said this. No one could believe that Rice seemed to say that she and the Bush Admin based their ideas on how pretty the palaces looked.
No one could believe that Rice really said itunless they considered the icons past statements. After September 11, Rice said that no one could have imagined airplanes being deliberately flown into buildings. (There were long-standings security warnings about that.) When the flap about the uranium-from-Africa broke, the White House explained that Rice hadnt completely read the National Intelligence Estimate in which the State Departments doubts were expressed. (Once the heat was off, Rice changed the story, saying that she had read the crucial report.) Now were toldunless Kamen is jokingthat Rice was misled in pre-war planning by the fact that the palaces were so big and shiny. Reminder: This is the National Security Adviser of an Admin which has been praised for its great, brilliant competence.
But Condi Rice is a press corps untouchable. Last Sunday, she appeared on Fox News Sunday and Late Editionand once again, she wasnt asked whether she read that NIE. (Translation: She will never be asked.) Nor has she ever been asked why she said that those aluminum tubes could only be used for nukes. (Late Edition, 9/8/02. In the Ackerman/Judis TNR piece, this is one of the rare statements to which the word lie was applied.) In fact, as Gwen Ifill proved when she interviewed Rice, Condi Rice will be asked nothing. Condi Rice is a press corps untouchable. To all appearances, nothing she says can be so strange as to call the Gwen Ifills to action.
Condi Rice is a press corps princess, staring up at the big, gleaming palace.
And oh yes, one other thing. Condi Rice is Gwen Ifills pal. On and off the NewsHour set, Condi loves Gwen Ifills home cookin. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/11/03, with links to earlier HOWLERS.
ICONIC SCRIPTS: For the record, Rice made a similar statement on Mondays Sean Hannity show:
RICE: In fact, what we really underestimated was how brutal Saddam Hussein was to his own people. Its hard to imagine that you could underestimate that. But when you look at how he really just undermined the mentality of the people so that it was a traumatized population, when you look at the fact that he had a system that was so mismanaged that the country really only had about 50 percent of the electrical power that it actually needed. You know, back then it looked like a gleaming city, but this was really a third- or a fourth-world country because he was using all of the resources of the country to build weapons of mass destruction and to build palaces for himself. So of course, we probably underestimated how much damage he really had done to the society.So of course we underestimated, Icon-C said. In this Adminfamed for its competenceblundering is now just assumed.
REMEMBERING THE DISAPPEARED: Here at THE HOWLER, we think that certain important historical events really must be preserved. Lets get specific: The Washington press corps is working hard to disappear the 2000 White House campaign. Thats why we salute Tucker Carlson. On Saturdays Reliable Sources, Carlson did a rare thing. He told the truth about the press corps conduct in that campaign:
HOWARD KURTZ: No story line for the press side, that is terrible, Tucker. How did the media magically decide that [John] Kerry is struggling, sinking, tanking, you know, five months before anyone gets to vote?Carlson is right about the Globes work on Kerry. More importantly, he joins the stragglers who began speaking up (last summer) about the trashing handed to Gore. Two years latethe coast now clearthey began to describe their cohorts misconduct. Carlson joined their number last weekend. (We will, of course, offer one comment to Carlson. If these journalists trashed Goreand if theyve also trashed Kerrytheres a very good chance that, whatever they are, they shouldnt be listed as liberals.)
For the record, weve received a few e-mails expressing surprise at Carlsons statement. Let us remind you of his past service. Flash back to October 4, 2000one day after the first Bush-Gore debate. To his vast credit, Carlson went on CNN that day and made a startling but obvious statement; he said that Washingtons pundits were refusing to say how badly they thought Bush had done in the forum. At least three other pundits made the same observation, but Carlsonas a movement conservativedoes deserve a great deal of credit for his comment, which was made in real time.
At any rate, the Washington press corps is very eager to let memories of Campaign 2000 fade away. Carlson does a major service by recalling what actually happened. The press doesnt want you to know what it diddoesnt want you to know it put Bush in the White House. The press wants its conduct disappeared. Saturday, Carlson remembered.
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: On October 4, 2000, four major pundits agreed: The Washington press corps was blatantly faking as it reviewed the first Bush-Gore debate. To read what Carlson and Chris Matthews said, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/1/02. For the record, the New York Times Frank Bruni was one of the fakers. See that same DAILY HOWLER.
Also: How hard did the press corps work to trash hated Gore? On December 24, 1999Christmas EveKamen devoted his WashPost column to trashing the Gore familys Christmas card. You guessed it: The Christmas card showed Gore was a phony. Make sure you have your barf bag ready. Then see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/24/99.