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GORING CLARK! Pundits want to make Clark a Big Liar, too. This time, will the good guys complain?


LYING LIES, AND THE GOOD-GUYS WHO CAN STOP THEM: No, Wesley Clark didn’t say that the White House pressured him on Iraq (text below). And when people began to think that he’d said it, he explained what he actually meant. And yes, there really is a Middle East think tank with an office in Canada (Montreal). And as of last Thursday, we knew who called Clark on September 11 (or 12), 2001. The Toronto Star explained the matter. “Thomas Hecht, founder of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies, told the Star he placed the call to Clark and drew his attention to a potential link between Saddam and the Al Qaeda suicide hijackers,” the paper reported. “The Begin-Sadat Centre has its headquarters in Israel and its only office elsewhere is the one Hecht established in Montreal.”

All in all, a nothing-burger of a story. But lying liars are very busy trying to make Wesley Clark a liar, emulating the winning strategy they pursued in their trashing of Gore. How fake are our current conservative “pundits?” Here was the feckless and phony George Will, telling the world in the Washington Post that there is no Middle East think tank in Canada—that Wesley Clark, like Al Gore, is a liar:

WILL (8/31/03): As Clark crisscrosses the country listening for a clamor for him…he compounds the confusion that began when he said on June 15 that on 9/11 “I got a call at my home” saying that when he was to appear on CNN, “You’ve got to say this is connected” to Iraq. “It came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over.” But who exactly called Clark?

July 1: “A fellow in Canada who is part of a Middle Eastern think tank.” There is no such Canadian institution.

Clark is a liar, Will was saying. And he was saying this too: Hey, rube! But then, so was the worn-out old hack William Safire, peddling this political porn in yesterday’s inept New York Times:
SAFIRE (9/22/03): As a boot-in-mouth politician, however, Clark ranks with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He began by claiming to have been pressured to stop his defeatist wartime CNN commentary by someone “around the White House”; challenged, he morphed that source into a Canadian Middle East think tank, equally fuzzy.
But Clark did not “begin by claiming to have been pressured…by someone ‘around the White House.’” And, four days after the Toronto Star actually named that Canadian think tank, the hapless Safire continued spreading the impression that Clark had just made that one up. (Safire was clever enough to use the weasel-word “fuzzy,” being craftily fuzzy himself.) Meanwhile, how hapless is this tired, worn-out old man? In this passage, Safire conflates two separate incidents involving Clark—Clark’s (unwise) suggestion that the White House tried to get him removed from CNN during the war, and Clark’s statement about Saddam and 9/11. But at the degraded New York Times, this kind of messy, nursing-home prose is just fine to dish out to its readers.

Al Gore was a Great Big Liar! And, Wesley Clark is a Big Liar too! Surely, by now, you all understand it—your “press corps” is spilling with rank propagandists, and they plan to retell their favorite dim tale. The question: Will America’s cowering “good guy” pundits—the Peter Beinarts, the E. J. Dionnes—dare to challenge their faking this time? Last time, they stepped aside as the corps’ lying liars made a sick joke of your White House election. Will the “good guys” cower and hide once again? The liars will lie until they are stopped. Will these cowering “good guys” dare to stop them?

WHAT CLARK SAID: For the record, we are generally skeptical about first-time candidates, and Clark has made some clear mistakes. (For example, he shouldn’t have repeated the “rumors” that the White House tried to get him canned from CNN.) But when Clark appeared on the June 15 Meet the Press, he did not say that the White House called him about Saddam and September 11. Here is the relevant passage:

CLARK: I think there was an immediate determination right after 9/11 that Saddam Hussein was one of the keys to winning the war on terror. Whether it was the need just to strike out or whether he was a linchpin in this, there was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001 starting immediately after 9/11 to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein.

RUSSERT: By who? Who did that?

CLARK: Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, “You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.” I said, “But—I’m willing to say it but what’s your evidence?” And I never got any evidence. And these were people who had—Middle East think tanks and people like this, and it was a lot of pressure to connect this and there were a lot of assumptions made. But I never personally saw the evidence and didn’t talk to anybody who had the evidence to make that connection.

Can you read? If so, you will note that Clark didn’t say that the phone call came from the White House. And when people began to think that he had, he clarified what he had meant. That’s the way that decent people conduct a public discussion. But as we learned in the last election, your “press corps” is full of lying liars and fools. For example, note what Ben Fritz pointed out in Spinsanity: Note the way Will rearranged the order of Clark’s Meet the Press remarks to make it seem that he’d tied that call to the White House. In a real professional sector, people get fired for frauds of that type. But at the Washington Post, it’s OK. By the way, Fred Hiatt “edits” Will at the Post, Gail Collins “edits” the worn-out old Safire. Read much, Fred and Gail? And do you really think that American citizens are prepared to put up with this clowning again? Your papers made a joke of the last White House race. Do you really think that you’ll be allowed to produce this lying lying once again?

BONUS! HOWLER HISTORY! President Bush only glances at headlines, he told Brit Hume in last night’s interview. But guess what? That’s how Cokie Roberts was getting her news back in late ’99! At the time, Roberts was being paid millions of dollars per year. To see the way these giants work, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/6/99 (halfway down). Could anyone else—could anyone else—get away with this screaming ineptitude?