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TRAINED SEELYE! You know the Official Script about Clark. This morning, “Kit” Seelye cuts-and-pastes it:


TOMORROW: General Boykin, part 3.

A CLOWNING CLOWN’S CLOWNING CLOWNISTRY: We’ve told you the script about General Clark: Clark (a big fake) can’t explain his positions. This morning, Katharine “Kit” Seelye of the New York Times cut-and-pastes the key script once again.

Seelye has followed Clark to New Hampshire, scene of so much past clowning clownistry. She’s programmed to type the key scripts about Clark. So this morning, she offers us this:

SEELYE: Right after [Clark’s] health care speech, the general introduced some new confusion into his stance on the administration's request for $87 billion in emergency spending on Iraq and Afghanistan. He has said that he opposes the request, and he repeated that position on Tuesday. But he told one woman who asked him what he would do about Iraq, “We broke the dishes, we’re going to pay for them.”

Asked later by reporters to reconcile his opposition to the $87 billion request with his assertion that the United States should pay for the damage, he said, “Eventually we’re going to have to do our part in the reconstruction of Iraq.” But, he added, he will not support any appropriation until Mr. Bush has a strategy for getting out.

More “confusion” from General Clark! Readers, the god of scripts is an angry god, and Seelye paid her god this great tribute.

But readers, let us ask a simple question. Is there anyone on earth—except a paid journalist—who would be “confused” by what Clark said? We’re relying on Seelye’s account of his comments, generally a risky thing to do (see below). But who on earth—except “Kit” Seelye—would find Clark’s statements on this matter “confusing? Clark said he won’t approve new money for Iraq until Bush has a plan for getting out. There are plenty of questions you could ask about that. But who would find this construction “confusing?”

The answer, of course, is perfectly clear. Katharine Seelye would find it confusing, because that’s one of the scripts about Clark. She clowned her way through Campaign 2000, making a joke of your White House election. According to the Financial Times, Katharine Seelye was one of three scribes who “did little to hide their contempt for [Gore].” As her clowning continues today, she shows her contempt for you too.

THE TRUTH ABOUT CORRECTIONS: On Monday, it was Adam Nagourney who was typing the script, telling readers that “General Clark appeared to struggle as he explained his views on the war in response to a challenge from a questioner.” As we noted, Clark’s actual answer was blindingly clear (full text below), so Nagourney did what he had to do—he simply provided a fake, bogus “answer.” He quoted one part of what Clark had said, then typed in part of an earlier answer! After creating this phony amalgam, he typed the script: General Clark wasn’t clear (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/27/03).

This morning, the Times pretends to correct this strange “error.” You might have thought that the paper would show what Clark actually said in response to the question Nagourney cited. If you thought that, of course, you’d be wrong. It’s the law: Corrections must always hide the extent of the “error.” Here is the paper’s “correction:”

NEW YORK TIMES CORRECTION: An article on Monday about a debate in Detroit by Democratic presidential candidates referred incorrectly to a response from Gen. Wesley K. Clark: “Right after 9/11, this administration determined to do bait-and-switch on the American public. President Bush said he was going to get Osama bin Laden, dead or alive. Instead, he went after Saddam Hussein. He doesn’t have either one of them today.” The comment responded to a question about where he stands on the war in Iraq, not to the question “Are we to understand that what you’re saying now is that those things you have said that were positive about the war was not what you meant?”
On-line, that “correction” will live forever, tagged to Nagourney’s astonishing article. But please note: You’re never shown what Clark actually said to the question Nagourney cited. Is it true? Did Wes Clark “appear to struggle as he explained his views on the war?” No, of course, he plainly did not (text below). But New York Times readers will never know that. Let’s be plain: The mighty Times—and their script-typing scribes—don’t want you to know what Clark said.

Nagourney’s article will be on-line forever. It will still say that Clark “appeared to struggle.” But the correction won’t show you what Clark really said. Readers will have no way of knowing: Clark didn’t “appear to struggle” at all. That was just scribes typing scripts.

CARL CAMERON HANDLES THE SCRIPT: Remember, what Clark said was perfectly clear—he did support the Afghanistan war, but didn’t support the war in Iraq. A Head Start drop-out could follow the statement. For the record, here is the full Q-and-A which Nagourney described as a struggle:

CARL CAMERON: General, there is a long litany of comments from you, both in your time as a former television analyst and then over the course of the last several months. Are we to understand that what you’re saying now is that those things you have said that were positive about the war was not what you meant?

CLARK:No, I always—I’m a fair person, Carl. And when this administration’s done something right, well, if they were Russians doing something right, Chinese doing something right, French doing something right or even Republicans doing something right—


I’m going to praise them.

Now, this country was attacked on 9/11, and it was right that this administration went into Afghanistan. And I supported that war; so did 90 percent of the American people. That Taliban government should have been taken out.

But the failure of this administration was not to put the troops in to finish the job against Osama bin Laden. And you know why they didn’t do it? They didn’t do it because, all along, their plan was to save those troops to go after Saddam Hussein.

So I support them for what they did right, and I condemn them for what they did wrong.

GWEN IFILL: Thank you, General.


Believe it or not, that’s the answer which puzzled Nagourney—the answer in which General Clark “appeared to struggle as he explained his views on the war.” Obviously, no one could really find that confusing, but journalists are paid to hand you their scripts. Nagourney was able to hand you the script by jumbling up what Clark really said. On Monday night’s Special Report, Fox slickster Carl Cameron was able to convey key scripts too.

Remember, Cameron is the Fox reporter who posed the original question to Clark at the Dem debate Sunday night. The following night, he was assigned to describe the debate for Fox viewers. Here’s what he said about Clark:

CAMERON (Special Report, Monday night): Retired 4-Star General Wesley Clark was repeatedly accused of shifting his Iraq position…And when pressed, Clark did not deny his repeated praise for the war over the last year.

CAMERON (on tape, Sunday night): What you are saying now is those things that you had said that were positive about the war was not what you meant?

CLARK (on tape, Sunday night): When this administration has done something right, well, if they were Russians doing something right, Chinese doing something right, French doing something right, or even Republicans doing something right, I’m going to praise them.

CAMERON (live, continuing directly): On the domestic front, Howard Dean denied he would balance the budget by cutting entitlement spending.

What did Clark actually say? He actually said this: I supported Afghanistan, I opposed Iraq. So how did Cameron handle the matter? He only showed you the first little bit of what Clark said, then claimed that Clark did not deny repeated praise for “the war.” Of course, that’s not what Clark said—he didn’t say that at all. But so what? Cameron lied in your faces.

Clark “did not deny his repeated praise for the war over the past year?” Here’s what Clark actually said, in response to the question which came before Cameron’s: “I’ve been against this war from the beginning. I was against it last summer. I was against it in the fall. I was against it in the winter. I was against it in the spring. And I’m against it now. It was an unnecessary war.” But according to Cameron, Clark “did not deny his repeated praise for the war!” At Fox, Cameron lied in your faces.

SMILE-A-WHILE—KIT’S HOWLER HISTORY: How gong-like was Seelye during Campaign 2000? For just one bit of her clowning clownistry, consider her utterly clowning report on December 17, 1999.

Two nights before, Gore had staged a fund-raiser at Nashville’s Wildhorse saloon. (Bush had been in Nashville at the same time.) At the time, Gore was battling Bill Bradley for the Dem nomination, and the “press corps” had an Official Approved Script: Al Gore is too nasty and negative. Needless to say, Katharine Seelye was hunting for ways to pass on this Official Script. She exploited a spouse’s introduction:

SEELYE: [Bush and Gore] also collected money at the same saloon here, the Wildhorse, with Mr. Gore staging a fund-raiser Wednesday night and Mr. Bush following tonight, in his first fund-raising foray into Tennessee. Mr. Gore’s wife, Tipper, introduced him by saying, “He’s good enough, he’s smart enough,” an allusion to the idea that Mr. Bush lacks the intellectual heft to be president.
Engaging in her standard spin and dissembling, Seelye told readers that Tipper Gore had directed a shot right at Bush. But what had actually happened that evening? When Kriste Goad described the event for the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, she included what Seelye withheld:
GOAD: Tipper Gore has a master’s degree in psychology, so she said she felt qualified to say: “You’re good enough. You’re smart enough. And doggone it, people like you, Al.”

Mrs. Gore was cracking wise with her comedian friend Al Franken but later said the same goes for her Al, the Vice President of the United States and the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The crowd at Wildhorse Saloon roared with laughter Wednesday as Tipper and Al Gore clutched hands with Franken, political-comedy savant and creator of Saturday Night Live’s self-assuring Stuart Smalley.

As emcee of Al Gore’s final major fund-raiser of the primary season, Franken loosened up the audience between more than two hours of musical acts by Kim Richey, Aaron Neville and Donna Summer.

That’s right, gang! Tipper had been joking with Al “Stuart Smalley” Franken, whose presence Seelye knew not to mention. Seelye had a script and, doggone it, she typed it. So too with Clark-on-Iraq.

Bonus: Note the way Seelye pared down what Tipper Gore said. Because she had a spin to sell, the “doggone it” part just had to go. Readers, have we ever told you? “Kit” Seelye is a true world-class crackpot.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Seelye’s clowning from Nashville was inconsequential, if revealing. Two weeks before, however, she had “mistakenly” “misquoted” Gore on Love Canal, an “error” which gravely affected the race. (For nine days, the Times refused to correct.) Meanwhile, to see another Seelye special, check her amazing dissembling about Elian Gonzalez. She reported the facts—till the script became clear. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/19/00 and 4/20/00.