Wednesday, March 31, 2004


This is just unbelievable. Are any of these people ever honest? From the Howler:

DOWN IN THE MIRE: Wolf Blitzer has offered an explanation for his comment about Clarke?s personal life (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/30/04). He spoke on yesterday's Blitzer Reports. As he did, he misled viewers about Paul Krugman:

BLITZER (3/30/04): Last Wednesday, while I was debriefing our senior White House correspondent, John King, I asked him if White House officials were suggesting there were some weird aspects to Richard Clarke's life. Clarke, of course, is the former counter-terrorism adviser who has sharply criticized the president's handling of the war on terror. I was not referring to anything charged by so-called unnamed White House officials as alleged today by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. I was simply seeking to flesh out what Bush National Security Council spokesman Jim Wilkinson had said on this program two days earlier.
WILKINSON (videotape): Let me also point something. If you look in this book, you find interesting things such as reported in the Washington Post this morning. He's talking about how he sits back and visualizes chanting by bin Laden and how bin Laden has some sort of mind control over U.S. officials. This is sort of X-Files stuff. And what I'd say is, this is a man who was in charge of terrorism, Wolf, who was supposed to be focused on that. And he was focused on meetings.

BLITZER: Other than that, John Kerry [sic] reported White House officials were not talking about Clarke's personal life in any way. Lou Dobbs Tonight starts right now.

Presumably, Blitzer meant to say "John King," not "John Kerry." But when it comes to Wolf Blitzer, who knows?
Was Blitzer referring to Wilkinson in last week's comment? Here at THE HOWLER, we don't really know (more below). For the record, Wilkinson's comments were a stupid, fake account of what Clarke actually says in his book -- the kind of fakery men like Wilkinson know they can offer to Blitzer. Simply put, Wilkinson lied, right in Blitzer?s face. But was that what Blitzer had in mind when he spoke to King last week? Here, again, is what he said when he posed his question:

BLITZER (question to King, Wednesday, 3/24/04): What administration officials have been saying since the weekend, basically that Richard Clarke from their vantage point was a disgruntled former government official, angry because he didn't get a certain promotion. He's got a hot new book out now that he wants to promote. He wants to make a few bucks, and that his own personal life, they're also suggesting that there are some weird aspects in his life as well, that they don't know what made this guy come forward and make these accusations against the president. Is that the sense that you're getting, speaking to a wide range of officials?

Let's state the obvious. Blitzer did refer to unnamed "administration officials," the claim he mocked on yesterday's program. If you watched him yesterday, you would have thought that Krugman invented the part about "unnamed officials." CNN's viewers were baldly misled. Sadly, they were misled by Blitzer.
So Blitzer dissembled about Paul Krugman. Beyond that, it's conceivable that Blitzer was referring to Wilkinson in his question to King. In truth, it seems like a bit of a stretch. But yes, it's always conceivable.

Somerby is too generous. While it's possible (though doubtful) Blitzer was referring to Wilkinson, no reasonable person would have actually thought he was. So, he may have "misspoke," but he tries to blame Krugman.

I hate these people.