Wash. Post's Milloy mischaracterized Bill Clinton's “fairy tale” comment
The Washington Post's Courtland Milloy mischaracterized a comment by former President Bill Clinton to suggest that Clinton dismissed Sen. Barack Obama's presidential candidacy as a “fairy tale.” In fact, in the comment Milloy cited -- “Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen” -- Clinton was referring to Obama's statements about his position on the Iraq war.
In his February 27 Washington Post column, Courtland Milloy mischaracterized a quote by former President Bill Clinton to falsely suggest that Clinton said Sen. Barack Obama's campaign for president was a “fairy tale.” Milloy wrote: " 'Give me a break,' cried Bill, frustrated by the spell that Barack had cast over the campaign. 'The whole thing is a fairy tale.' " In fact, Clinton's January 7 comment -- “Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen” -- referred to Obama's statements about his position on the Iraq war, not the Obama campaign itself. In a January 13 piece for The New York Times' Week In Review section, reporter Mark Leibovich noted that in using the words “fairy tale,” Clinton “was referring specifically to the perception that Mr. Obama was totally pure in his opposition to the Iraq war.”
Media Matters for America has noted other instances in which the media have misreported Clinton's statement, including The Washington Post.
From the January 7 campaign event with Bill Clinton, as transcribed by Congressional Quarterly:
QUESTION: Thanks. One of the things that Senator Obama talks about a lot is judgment and I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the recent criticism of Mark Penn, who is Hillary's chief strategist, who's been criticized for being somewhat out of touch with reality.
For instance, he circulated a memo about Iowa, saying “Where's the balance,” [sic: bounce] and then the next day, there was a 12-point jump for Obama.
CLINTON: He was wrong. He was wrong about that, because the balance [sic] always occurs on the second day, not the first day. It always occurs on the second day, not the first day.
But since you raised the judgment issue, let's go over this again. That is the central argument for his campaign. “It doesn't matter that I started running for president less than a year after I got to the Senate from the Illinois state senate. I am a great speaker and a charismatic figure and I am the only one that had the judgment to oppose this floor [sic: war] from the beginning, always, always, always.”
First, it is factually not true that everybody that supported that resolution supported Bush attacking Iraq before the U.N. inspectors withdrew. Chuck Hagel [NE] was one of the co-authors of that resolution, the only Republican Senator that always opposed the war, every day, from the get-go.
He authored the resolution to say that Bush could go to war only if they didn't cooperate with the inspectors and he was assured personally by [then-National Security Adviser] Condi Rice, as many of the other Senators were. So, first, the case is wrong that way.
Second, it is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years and never got asked one time, not once, “Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war and you took that speech you're now running on off your Web site in 2004 and there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since.”
Give me a break.
This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen. So you can talk about Mark Penn all you want. What did you think about the Obama thing, calling Hillary the “Senator from Punjab?” Did you like that? Or what about the Obama handout that was covered up, the press never reported on, implying that I was a crook, scouring me, scathing criticism over my financial reports.
[Former independent counsel] Ken Starr spent $70 million and indicted innocent people to find out that I wouldn't take a nickel to see the cow jump over the moon. So you can take a shot at Mark Penn if you want, it wasn't his best day. He was hurt, he felt badly we didn't do better in Iowa.
But, you know, the idea that one of these campaigns is positive and other is negative, when I know the reverse is true and I have seen it and I have been blistered by it for months, is a little tough to take. Just because of the sanitizing coverage that's in the media doesn't mean the facts aren't out there.
Otherwise, I do not have any strong feelings about that subject.
Go ahead. I've got to take a question back here and then I -- go ahead.
From Milloy's February 27 Washington Post column:
Once upon a time, an audacious black man named Barack Obama decided to run for president of the United States. But a former president, a white man named Bill, wanted former first lady Hillary to have the job.
Or maybe not, because Bill began saying things that hurt his wife's chances.
“Give me a break,” cried Bill, frustrated by the spell that Barack had cast over the campaign. “The whole thing is a fairy tale.”
When black voters got wind of Bill's incantations, they became angry. They thought Bill was trying to make Barack's quest into a black magic fable. So they put a hex on Hillary's campaign and made Barack their favorite son.