WorldNetDaily's Kinsolving repeated false claim during White House press briefing that Castro endorsed Clinton and Obama

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

During a White House press briefing, Les Kinsolving falsely asserted that Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama received an "endorsement" in a column by Fidel Castro. However, at no point did Castro endorse Clinton or Obama; to the contrary, he attributed to Clinton and Obama a pro-democratic view that he called an "error," and he said of the two candidates, "They are not making politics: they are playing a game of cards on a Sunday afternoon."

During an August 30 White House press briefing, conservative radio host and WorldNetDaily.com White House correspondent Les Kinsolving falsely asserted that Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY) and Barack Obama (NY) received an "endorsement" from Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Kinsolving was referring to Castro's August 28 column in the Cuban newspaper Granma, in which Castro described a potential Clinton-Obama presidential ticket as "seemingly invincible." However, as Media Matters for America senior editor Terry Krepel noted and as Media Matters has documented, at no point in his column did Castro endorse Clinton or Obama; to the contrary, he attributed to Clinton and Obama a pro-democratic view that he called an "error," and he said of Clinton and Obama, "They are not making politics: they are playing a game of cards on a Sunday afternoon."

From the press briefing transcript:

Q Okay. Reuters reports from Harvard that Fidel Castro has just described Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as "an apparently unbeatable ticket." But the Reuters report did not mention either of these two U.S. Senators repudiating this endorsement. And my question: Does the leader of the Republican Party believe that Clinton and Obama should repudiate this dictator's endorsement or not?

MR. SNOW: I think it is safe to say that Fidel Castro is not an expert on the workings of an active democracy.

Kinsolving's false assertion was repeated in an August 31 WorldNetDaily.com article. The article stated: "An endorsement from Cuban dictator Fidel Castro that praised Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., as an 'apparently unbeatable' combination in the run for the White House isn't worth all that much, according to the spokesman for President Bush."

In a July 26 WorldNetDaily article, WorldNetDaily editor and CEO Joseph Farah reported that Kinsolving would no longer attend White House press briefings because Snow "has been so repeatedly unfair to WND and Kinsolving." The article cited Snow's refusal "to take any Kinsolving questions during three out of four daily White House press briefings" the previous week, as well as Snow's criticism during his July 25 press briefing of WorldNetDaily's July 23 report that "[a]ttempts by cities or other governments to sidestep federal policy and make their own provisions for illegal aliens won't get any attention from the White House, spokesman Tony Snow says." Snow asserted that Kinsolving "thoroughly twist[ed] out of context the answer I gave you," and described the report as "a disservice to this White House and to the craft of journalism." From the press briefing transcript:

Q Thank you, Tony. Two questions. The AP reports that Sydney, Australia's Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, is leading a campaign urging all residents to pack an emergency survival kit in preparation for any terrorist attack or other disaster in Australia's largest city. And my question -- does the White House believe that this is a campaign U.S. cities should be launching, or not?

MR. SNOW: That would be something that I would not be privy to comment on. And, Les, let me just -- before we get back into a situation where it will be more difficult to get called on, let me just point out that you need to ask questions that bear on the President's responsibilities. I saw the piece you wrote the other day, that has been thoroughly twisting out of context the answer I gave you when I told you that the President, in fact, was --

Q That's what --

MR. SNOW: I don't care. What you did --

Q They wrote it out there.

MR. SNOW: You know what, I don't care, okay, because the fact is, if somebody is going to take questions about things that do not fall under the President's purview -- and I answered that question -- and it gets twisted, that is a disservice to this White House and to the craft of journalism. So if I were you, I'd pick up the phone and tell them to start cleaning up or writing corrections.

Farah described Snow's statements as "a rebuke, and a threat, and an attempt to control Les Kinsolving and WND's right to ask questions at the White House." An August 5 WorldNetDaily article reported that Kinsolving "is returning to the presidential press briefings this week after a one-on-one conference" with Snow. The article continued: "Kinsolving and Snow reached an agreement during a phone conversation, after which an aide to Snow told Farah 'Tony is very fond of Les and holds him in high personal regard.' "

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