Wednesday :: Oct 10, 2007

Washington Post Distorts Hillary's Answers In Front Page Interview

by Jeff Dinelli

It isn't only the Republicans who have Hillary in their crosshairs. In a classic example of the mainstream media looking for any excuse to stick it to Clinton, the Washington Post's Anne Kornblut and Dan Balz use their front page today as a whipping post, successfully creating news regarding torture by twisting Hillary's words severely out of context.

Clinton was similarly vague about how she would handle special interrogation methods used by the CIA. She said that while she does not condone torture, so much has been kept secret that she would not know unlesselected what other extreme measures interrogators are using, and therefore could not say whether she would change or continue existing policies.

"It is not clear yet exactly what this administration is or isn't doing. We're getting all kinds of mixed messages," Clinton said. "I don't think we'll know the truth until we have a new president. I think [until] you can get in there and actually bore into what's been going on, you're not going to know."

Sounds pretty bad, doesn't it? And shots were fired at her from all over the leftist blogosphere today. Andrew Sullivan writes, "You knew this was coming, didn't you?" "Before she'll promise anything, she wants the power. Then she'll decide what to do with it. So trust her. Go on: trust her."

Matt Stoller laments, "She cannot handle a political system where one party is acting in utter bad faith, and ultimately turns to bad faith herself. That's why she will not come out against torture by the CIA, since she cannot bring herself to believe that the government could do something so awful, that the Iraq invasion was done for no good reasons whatsoever. And so she ratifies the horrifying behavior, and will continue to do so as President."

Kevin Drum, calling the two paragraphs a "nauseating piece of evasion," thunders, "Politics is politics. Spin and ambiguity are part of the game. But if you can't even take a full-throated, non-weasely position against torture and abuse of prisoners in American custody, what the hell good are you?"

Here's the problem with trusting the Washington Post's accuracy, guys: they spun and twisted her answer like a pretzel. Here's the complete transcript, thanks to Greg Sargent at The Horse's Mouth:

Q: Can I ask you a follow up? You mentioned Blackwater, you’ve said that at the beginning of your administration you’d ask the Pentagon to report. When it comes to special interrogation methods, obviously you’ve said you’re against torture, but the types of methods that are now used that aren’t technically torture but are still permitted, would you do something in your first couple days to address that, suspend some of the special interrogation methods immediately or ask for some kind of review?

HRC: Well I think I’ve been very clear about that too, we should not conduct or condone torture and it is not clear yet exactly what this administration is or isn’t doing, we’re getting all kinds of mixed messages. I don’t think we’ll know the truth until we have a new President. I think once you can get in there and actually bore into what’s been going on, you’re not going to know. I was very touched by the story you guys had on the front page the other day about the WWII interrogators. I mean it's not the same situation but it was a very clear rejection of what we think we know about what is going on right now but I want to know everything, and so I think we have to draw a bright line and say ‘No torture – abide by the Geneva conventions, abide by the laws we have passed,' and then try to make sure we implement that.

Is there any way to make that clearer? Should she have written it down on paper and handed it to Kornblut and Balz? Or are they simply conducting an interview whereby no matter what Hillary says, they're going to clip and paste together the contents of the answers to serve the theme the writers want to convey?

To be fair, Drum and Sullivan both updated their posts with the correct transcript (though Sullivan still says, "I don't trust her.")

The problem here is this: with Hillary, can we not trust anything that we read from mainstream newspapers? Are we going to have to run every quote by the campaign to make sure of its accuracy? This isn't some backwater newspaper we're talking about here, this is the Washington freaking Post. I suppose we should all expect this from this point on. The Game seems to be Let's Watch And Wait Until Hillary Screws Up.

And if she doesn't, let's just help her out a little.

Jeff Dinelli :: 1:34 PM :: Comments (17) :: Digg It!