Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER
Over at Americablog, John Aravosis catches Newsweek's Evan Thomas repeating the myth that, unlike President Obama, President Bush "insisted on respect for the office: aides wore coats and ties."
Aravosis debunks this nicely, complete with photos of Bush aides in the Oval Office without coats and of Bush making a clown of himself by pretending to search for WMD in the office.
But it's worth adding that myths like this don't just happen. See, reporters like Evan Thomas don't spend all day hanging out with presidents in the Oval Office. The only way for Evan Thomas to "know" that Bush "insisted on respect for the office" is for Bush or his aides to tell Thomas Bush insisted on it. The only way for Thomas to "know" that insistance included wearing coats and ties in the Oval Office is for Bush aides to tell him that.
Which is to say that Evan Thomas can't know that Bush insisted on any such thing. He can only know that Bush aides say he insisted on it. Which means he shouldn't write "Bush insisted," he should write "Bush aides say he insisted."
Well, actually, he should take three lousy minutes to do a Google Image search to find out if those claims are accurate. And, finding that they aren't, he should write "Bush aides claim he insisted on respect for the Oval Office, and that aides wore coats and ties. But, as you can see from the photo to the right, they are lying."
Actually, let's take that one step further: We know that specific Bush aides are lying about this; reporters should name them. Andy Card, for example. Andy Card spent the first few weeks of the Obama administration acting all upset that Obama allows people to go jacketless in the Oval Office. President Bush had too much respect for the office to allow such a thing, Card said.
Andy Card was lying. We know Andy Card was lying because this photo shows Andy Card in the Oval Office, looking right at George Tenet -- and Tenet isn't wearing a jacket:
Now, a photo is not video. Maybe moments after this photo was taken, Bush and Card wrestled Tenet to the ground and put a jacket on him while screaming "YOU WILL RESPECT THE OFFICE." But I kind of doubt it.
So, let's go back to Evan Thomas. Here's what Evan Thomas wrote:
THOMAS: Bush insisted on respect for the office: aides wore coats and ties and saluted smartly, metaphorically and literally.
And here's that paragraph, as it would appear if it were journalism rather than GOP spin:
JOURNALISM: Bush aides, like Andrew Card, claim that Bush insisted on respect for the office and required aides to wear coats and ties in the Oval Office. That's a lie, as the following photo of Bush and Card in the Oval Office next to a jacketless George Tenet proves.
See the difference?