The New York Times‘s Kate Zernike runs interference for John Kerry on the topic of his controversial “stuck in Iraq” remarks — to the point of flatly misrepresenting to readers the content of the remarks.
The headline of the Times piece is Flubbed Joke Makes Kerry a Political Punching Bag, Again.
Before making the misrepresentation, Zernike engages in plenty of distortion. As the headline of her piece indicates, she swallows hook, line, and sinker Kerry’s proffered interpretation of the remarks as a “joke” — as if there were no doubt or controversy about that issue at all.
That’s bad enough. Look: I believe, on balance, that it probably was a botched joke. But John McCain disagrees. Tony Snow disagrees. A lot of our troops disagree.
There is a controversy. But Zernike chooses sides, as if it’s completely obvious that Kerry meant what he now claims.
But that’s not what makes this piece so outrageous.
It also completely buries any description of the actual remarks themselves. It is the eighteenth paragraph (!) before Zernike even alludes to the actual content of the remarks. There is plenty of discussion about the fallout from the remarks — but what did Kerry say? It takes eighteen paragraphs to even get to the issue. Amazingly, Zernike quotes praise for Kerry from a small-time lefty blogger before she gets around to telling us what the hell Kerry had said that was so controversial.
But that’s not what makes this piece so outrageous either.
What makes this piece so outrageous is that it flat-out lies about what Kerry said.
That’s right. I’ll repeat it, because it’s so jaw-dropping: in the piece linked above, the New York Times tells a straight lie about the actual content of Kerry’s remarks.
Once Zernike finally gets around to discussing what Kerry actually said, she claims:
Mr. Kerry’s prepared remarks to California students on Monday called for him to say, “Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush.” In his delivery, he dropped the word “us.”
Really? He said “Just ask President Bush”?
Zernike is claiming that Kerry said:
Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush.
Only that’s not even remotely what he said. If it were, then we wouldn’t be having this debate. The inclusion of “Just ask President Bush” — if Kerry had actually spoken that line — would have made it a no-brainer that Kerry meant this as an anti-Bush joke. An absolute no-brainer.
But that’s not what Kerry said. Here is what he did say:
You know, education — if you make the most of it, you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.
Period. Full stop.
There is no mention of President Bush whatsoever in that quote.
Are there still people on this planet who trust this newspaper?!?!
UPDATE: Tom Maguire reminds us that Ms. Zernike has botched facts in Kerry’s favor before.
UPDATE x2: Thanks to Instapundit and Real Clear Politics for the links.
UPDATE x3: It turns out that Kerry said in 1972: “I am convinced a volunteer army would be an army of the poor and the black and the brown.” In other words, there’s a history that informs the public’s perception of these latest comments.
I still think he was taking a jab at Bush in his recent comments (as I explain in this post, which has a link to the video) — but Kerry has only himself to blame for people’s perceptions to the contrary.
UPDATE x4: Thanks to Power Line and Mickey for the links.
And in other news, it just keeps getting worse and worse for Kerry.
UPDATE x5: And worse.