Thursday, January 26, 2006

'That's Why I Welcome The Hearings'

The Common Ills:

Team a faltering Eric Lichtblau with Elisabeth Bumiller and what do you get? Short answer: "Bush Visits Security Agency and Defends Surveillance" in this morning's New York Times. Long answer: really bad reporting.

As The Times reported:

Mr. Bush first met privately with employees at the agency, then told a small group of reporters who accompanied him that the program, which intercepts international phone calls and e-mail messages of people in the United States suspected of links to Al Qaeda, had been a crucial tool in fighting terrorism.

The Common Ills:

You have to be a really hideous reporter to write the above. A really lazy one who asks the White House, "What's the angle?" and then prints it as fact.

The NSA "which intercepts international phone calls and e-mail messages of people in the United States suspected of links to Al Qaeda". Really Bumiller? Really Lichtblau? So, then this agency was only recently created, right? Al Qaeda hasn't been around for decades and decades so the agency must not have been either, right?

The Common Ills is right. This isn't like the Media Matters tiff with The Washington Post's Ombudsman Deborah Howell about Dafna Linzer writing "President Bush and his advisers have defended it as legal and necessary to protect the country against future attacks and have said Congress was repeatedly consulted."

Bumiller or Lichtblau weren't paraphrasing the President's words. They were offering...

I'm not really sure what they were offering. Because it's way too "unartful" to qualify as spin.

Spin, which intercepts New York Times journalists suspected of links to the Bush Administration, has been a crucial tool in fighting Democrats.

But why didn't Lichtblau or Bumiller offer John McCain in this article?

The other day Senator McCain told Matt Lauer on the Today show that he doesn't know if President Bush broke the law on the NSA wiretapping program:

"That's why I welcome the hearings. If I was sure whether it's legal or not, then I wouldn't feel that these hearings are important."

Oh...I'm sorry.

Did you want a link to that McCain quote?

Can't help you. Because a Google News search on "That's why I welcome the hearings" draws up 124 results yet most of the articles that come up don't include that line.

It's supposed to be in this Jim VandeHei article from The Washington Post but it isn't.

It used to be in this Associated Press article but not any more.

A leading Republican welcomes the hearings but maybe we're not supposed to know that.


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