When we were young tykes doing what young tykes often do, we would occasionally run afoul of local ordinances. When called upon to account for these--in our view--minor transgressions we often resorted to a certain...how to describe this...rearrangement of the facts. Our intent was not to mislead, but to provide a clearer, more complete view of the most recently concluded unfortunate event as an explanatory, and hopefully exculpatory addendum to say, the untimely appearance of our sainted mother just as we were climbing down off the roof of Mrs. Fenton's garage.
Now, had our dear SM been of a mind she could have kept a record of these...shall we say...interpretations, and at some point confronted us with the full accounting of our childhood indiscretions, well, let's just say our credits would have been outweighed by our debits.
Which is why we feel kind of sorry for president Bush today.
A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks. "When parents tell their children there is a Santa Claus, they're lying too," said White House Press Secretart Dana Pirino. "Why do you people hate Christmas?"
The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."
"Right," said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel. "And it worked too, so what's your point?"
The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues. Stanzel did not comment on the merits of the study, but reiterated the administration's position that the world community viewed Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, as a threat.
"936," shouted a reporter.
"When will you make 1000," shouted another.
Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links toal-Qaida or both. "We dispute that," said Secretart Pirino. "Couldn't have been more than 400, 450 tops."
Bush led with 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 28 about Iraq's links to al-Qaida, the study found. "Hey, come on," Pirino said. "The guy's living in a world inside his head. Who knows what's true in there."
"The cumulative effect of these false statements — amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts — was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war," the study concluded. "See, if you guys hadn't listened to us none of this would have happened," Stanzel told reporters. "It's not our fault you don't do your jobs."
"Some journalists — indeed, even some entire news organizations — have since acknowledged that their coverage during those prewar months was far too deferential and uncritical. These mea culpas notwithstanding, much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional, 'independent' validation of the Bush administration's false statements about Iraq," it said.
In a related story, the New York Times, in an effort to restore its image as an independent government watchdog, hired Bill Kristol to be a regular columnist.