The New York Times runs an editorial today on Cindy Sheehan:
Summertime often produces unexpected media figures, and this is Cindy Sheehan’s season. Ms. Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq last year, is camping out near President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Tex., and says she won’t leave until Mr. Bush agrees to meet with her to discuss the war. There are many reasons for the flood of media attention she is attracting: she has a poignant personal story and she is articulate – and, let’s face it, August is a slow news month. But most of all, she is tapping into a growing popular feeling that the Bush administration is out of touch with the realities, and the costs, of the Iraq war.
Ms. Sheehan’s 24-year-old son, Casey, was killed in Baghdad. She says she and her family met privately with Mr. Bush two months later, and she is sharply critical of how the president acted. He did not know her son’s name, she says, acted as if the meeting was a party and called her “Mom” throughout, which she considered disrespectful.
Ms. Sheehan has traveled from her California home to Crawford, where Mr. Bush will be spending much of the month, in the hope of having a more substantive discussion. On Saturday, Mr. Bush’s national security adviser and the White House deputy chief of staff met with her beside a road a few miles from the ranch, but she is still insisting on a meeting with the president.
Nowhere does the editorial disclose that Ms. Sheehan once had a different account. In a June 24 article in the Vacaville Reporter, Ms. Sheehan described the meeting quite differently:
“‘I now know he’s sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis,’ Cindy said after their meeting. ‘I know he’s sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he’s a man of faith.’
“The meeting didn’t last long, but in their time with Bush, Cindy spoke about Casey and asked the president to make her son’s sacrifice count for something. They also spoke of their faith.
. . . .
“The trip had one benefit that none of the Sheehans expected.
“For a moment, life returned to the way it was before Casey died. They laughed, joked and bickered playfully as they briefly toured Seattle.
For the first time in 11 weeks, they felt whole again.
“‘That was the gift the president gave us, the gift of happiness, of being together,’ Cindy said.”
This story surfaced yesterday on Drudge — after the New York Times had run a news article [UPDATE: make that two!] that similarly failed to mention Ms. Sheehan’s previous praise for the President during the meeting. The story is now widely known — surely editors were aware of it when they wrote their editorial.
I’m not interested in criticizing Ms. Sheehan. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose my son, and neither can anyone else who hasn’t experienced it.
But if a news outlet is going to report her current statements — even in an editorial — they have an ethical duty to report her earlier ones that directly contradict what she is saying now. Completely failing to mention those comments at all, anywhere in the paper, is rank distortion.