An L.A. Times end-of-the-year political quiz resurrects the canard that George W. Bush “[e]rroneously said Nelson Mandela was dead.” (H/t D.J.) Read this question, focusing on the last line:
And here is the “correct” answer: George W. Bush.
The problem is, this is nonsense. Here is a transcript of the relevant press conference. Bush was asked a question about the lack of political progress in Iraq:
I’ll ask you about Iraq. Efforts to curtail the deployment of troops is an ongoing debate right now. One of the things you spoke about in your address last week had to do with impatience with the Iraqi government. And you spoke about that, but not in much detail. How is that dynamic changing, your level of frustration with the lack of political progress? And how long can Americans reasonably expect you to wait before you take some kind of action that really forces the Iraqi government’s hand to reach the goals of reconciliation that you set for them?
As part of his answer, Bush suggested that Iraq has no equivalent to Nelson Mandela, because Saddam killed all of them:
Part of the reason why there is not this instant democracy in Iraq is because people are still recovering from Saddam Hussein’s brutal rule. I thought an interesting comment was made when somebody said to me, I heard somebody say, where’s Mandela? Well, Mandela is dead, because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas. He was a brutal tyrant that divided people up and split families, and people are recovering from this. So there’s a psychological recovery that is taking place. And it’s hard work for them. And I understand it’s hard work for them. Having said that, I’m not going the give them a pass when it comes to the central government’s reconciliation efforts.
Reuters ran a ridiculous story about Bush’s alleged “gaffe” titled Mandela still alive after embarrassing Bush remark. That story opened:
Nelson Mandela is still very much alive despite an embarrassing gaffe by U.S. President George W. Bush, who alluded to the former South African leader’s death in an attempt to explain sectarian violence in Iraq.
The silly story was instantly debunked by Newsbusters. But the L.A. Times continues to push it.
Pay close attention, folks. Because this is how they lie to you.
And you know what? I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that they won’t correct it.
Because, after all, Bush did say: “Mandela is dead.” So what if his meaning was clearly nothing to do with the actual Nelson Mandela. He said it. It’s his fault, not ours. We don’t see the need for a correction.
That’s what they’ll say. Mark my words.
Just watch and see. I’ll write the Readers’ Rep right now. I’m telling you, they’re not going to do a damned thing about it.
P.S. I should acknowledge at this point that this isn’t necessarily a “lie” — it could just be someone who got taken in by the Reuters story, and is completely out of touch with the conservative New Media, and therefore missed the discussion over how misleading the Reuters story was.
But if they refuse to correct it or clarify it, by arguing that it’s an opinion column — well, then, it damn sure will be a lie.