12 November 2001
Our current howler (part III): Wes Prudenanti-American
Synopsis: Theres only one word for the Washington Times. Their conduct is anti-American.
Letters to the editor
The Washington Times, 11/9/01
Clinton calls terror a U.S. debt to past
Joseph Curl, The Washington Times, 11/8/01
Almost instantly, deceived, misled readers of the Washington Times began sending in angry letters. The Times had lied in their faces about What Clinton Saidbut readers had no way of knowing. Robert Snopek, for example, had been deceived out in Woodbridge, Virginia:
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Former President Bill Clinton reasons that we are experiencing foreign terror on our own soil because of our history of internal terrorslavery and the harsh treatment of American Indians ("Clinton calls terror a U.S. debt to past," Nov. 8). He also seems to think we Americans are suffering for the crusades, even though they were fought in the 11th and 12th centuries, long before the American founding. I hope the rest of America recognizes this prattle for what it is: good old Arkansas hogwash.
Wednesdays speech at Georgetown University was classic Clinton
ROBERT G. SNOPEK
Except Clinton had said nothing like that (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/9/01). Meanwhile, up in Hummelstown, Maryland, Mary Migala had been deceived too:
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
It is shameful enough that former President Bill Clinton took the occasion of his speech at Georgetown University to act as a poster boy for the "America got what it deserves" crowd. But he showed his trademark state of denial and lack of shame when he said the U.S. government is "woefully" lacking on several key terrorism-prevention areas. Hello? Who was president for the past eight years and did nothing in those areas?
But did Clinton say that "America got what it deserved?" The statement is complete, utter nonsense. There is nothing resembling that view in his speechthough readers of the Washington Times couldnt know that. The Washington Times had deceived its readersand angry readers were taking the bait. The Times published letters from irate readers who didnt know that the paper had lied. But they also published a letter from a student. And the student had actually been there:
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Your article "Clinton calls terror a U.S. debt to past" is inaccurate and misrepresentative of the speech Mr. Clinton gave at Georgetown University.
As a Georgetown student, I attended the former presidents speech on Wednesday, and after reading your article, I was perplexed to see how his words could be construed in any way as a statement that the United States was somehow paying a debt to its past
Ruesch was the sole correspondent who actually knew what Clinton had said. The Times published letters from seven other readers, who didnt have any way of knowing that the paper had lied in their faces.
How had the Times misled its readers? Lets start with the headline of its original piece about the Clinton speech. "Clinton calls terror a U.S. debt to past," said the November 8, page-one headline. In fact, Clinton had notedin a brief, fleeting commentthat terroristic behavior had been directed at blacks and native Americans in the American past. And he notedagain in passingthat the west had engaged in acts of terror against Islam during the Crusades. (For the record, the accuracy of these fleeting remarks is, of course, blindingly obvious.) But nowhere did Clinton ever say or suggest that we therefore "got what we deserved" on September 11though Joseph Curl and the Washington Times labored long and hard to convey that impression. Thats righton Thursday, Curl and his editors deceived Snopek and Migala. Only Ruesch had seen Clintons speech. Ruesch, therefore, was quite "perplexed" by the way the Times described it.
As we noted in Fridays HOWLER, when the AP sent out a report on this speech, they didnt mention any of the remarks about which Migala and Snopek were complaining. Here was an obvious reason for the APs omissionClinton hadnt made the remarks! At a time of great national stress, the Washington Times had baldly deceived its readers. Our question: Just which English-language words can we use to describe conduct like that?
The Times should be stoppedin its tracks
How disgusting does it get when the Washington Times lies and slanders? A personal noteon Saturday afternoon, we were driving through central Pennsylvania, and heard a syndicated talk show host on WHP-AM in Harrisburg. The station should feel deeply ashamed for what it broadcast this day. The host, Mark Williams, kept saying that Clinton had spoken at George Washington University; clearly, he didnt know where Clinton had spoken, let alone what he had said. But Williams knew what the hot, new slanders were, and he eagerly spewed them about. Mark Williams told listeners, all over the country, that Clinton "appeared to be either very tired or very drunk at George Washington University" (yes, dear readers, its come to that). But the repulsive Williams said something else too. "It turns out," this little guy said, that Clinton is "in philosophical agreement with those who hate America." This is, of course, a vicious slanderan absurd misstatement of Clintons speech. But WHPs misused listeners had no way whatever to know that. Alas! Listeners called in from around the country, shaking their fists in the air at Vile Clintonlisteners who had no way of knowing that WHP and its host, Mark Williams, were lying to them, lying right in their faces.
So dear readers, heres what happened. At a time of great national stressat a time when we talk about national unitythe Washington Times had a better idea. The Times set out to deceive its readersand the Times set out to slander a president. What kind of people behave like that, at a time of such national challenge? What kind of people set out to score points at a time like this by engaging in such loathsome slander?
What kind of people behave this way? Theres a word for themanti-American. And understandthe Washington Times will never stop until the American people make them. The Washington Times will keep his up for just as long as their conduct is tolerated. Our question: Will Americans ever have the courage to make Wes Pruden and his ugly gang stop?
Next: Theres nothing too stupid for the Fox News Channel. On Thursday, Brit Humes "all-stars" proved it.
Note to Pruden, anti-American: Thats right, Weswere calling you out. We wonder why you deceive your readers at a time of such national challenge. And we wonder if you have the courage to stand up and explain what youve done. But that would require a full, fair debateone in which the truth is heard. Our question: At this point, are you even prepared to pretend that you believe in such American values?
The Daily update (11/12/01)
How trained spinners do it: Clinton told the students that "we have to win the fight were in;" he assured them that terrorists always win at first, but "then sooner or later, hopefully sooner, decent people get together and figure out how to defend themselves." He also said this: "I am just a citizen, and as a citizen I support the efforts of President Bush, the national security team, and our allies in fighting the current terrorist threat. I believe we all should." But how boringthose are the things that he actually said. To content yourself with his actual speech, you know what to dojust click here. By the way, youll note that Clintons remarks about slavery are a tiny, fleeting part of his speech.
Meanwhile, how do talented spinners deceive? As weve told you, they almost never lie. Here is the opening of Joseph Curls 11/8 article. Youll note that Curl never says the things Magala and Snopek took from his piece. Did Clinton say that "America got what it deserved?" Plainly, Curl never says that. Clever spinners dont liethey insinuate. They know that Mark Williamsand Rush, of coursewill take their insinuations from there:
HEADLINE: Clinton calls terror a U.S. debt to past;
Cites slavery in Georgetown speech
BYLINE: Joseph Curl; THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Bill Clinton, the former president, said yesterday that terror has existed in America for hundreds of years and the nation is "paying a price today" for its past of slavery and for looking "the other way when a significant number of native Americans were dispossessed and killed."
"Here in the United States, we were founded as a nation that practiced slavery, and slaves quite frequently were killed even though they were innocent," said Mr. Clinton in a speech to nearly 1,000 students at Georgetown Universitys ornate Gaston Hall.
"This country once looked the other way when a significant number of native Americans were dispossessed and killed to get their land or their mineral rights or because they were thought of as less than fully human.
"And we are still paying a price today," said Mr. Clinton, who was invited to address the students by the universitys School of Foreign Service. Mr. Clinton, wearing a gray suit and orange tie, arrived 45 minutes late for the event
The headline makes an inflammatory statement which isnt made in Curls piece itself. Did Clinton say that the 9/11 "terror" was somehow related to our past? No, he didntand Curl never claims that he did. Clinton did sayin one brief passagethat we still pay a price for past slavery. By the way, that is a thoroughly commonplace notionone Clinton mentioned quite briefly, in passing. Clintons fleeting remarks in that area had almost nothing to do with the overall thrust of his speech. Weird, isnt it? Curl spent his first four paragraphs on a minor asidea small, fleeting part of Clintons speech.
So how did the Times deceive the nation? Simple! Curl took a tiny piece of Clintons speech, and pretended it was his major theme. And the headline writer jacked it up farther, saying something which even Curl never said. Presto! Twenty-four hours later, the Times got to print a bunch of wildly inaccurate lettersletters which said the very things the newspaper wanted you to think from the start. By Friday, he Times got to put false information in front of its readersthings the Times itself never had said.
So thats the way trained spinners work. They even do it at times of great challenge. The Washington Times is quite good at this stuff. And theres a word for itanti-American!