NBC’s Deceptive Editing Reveals Why Bush Right and Obama Wrong

A May 19, 2008 post titled “We Help ‘The Hill’” provides illumination all too-often lacking in today’s distorted and biased media:

Matt Drudge links to a Hill story that badly needs supplementation:

The White House on Monday sent a scathing letter to NBC News, accusing the news network of “deceptively” editing an interview with President Bush on the issue of appeasement and Iran.

At issue were remarks Bush made in front of Israel’s parliament earlier this week.

Specifically, White House counselor Ed Gillespie laments that the network edited the interview in a way that “is clearly intended to give viewers the impression that [Bush] agreed with [correspondent Richard Engel’s] characterization of his remarks when he explicitly challenged it.

“This deceitful editing to further a media-manufactured storyline is utterly misleading and irresponsible and I hereby request in the interest of fairness and accuracy that the network air the President’s responses to both initial questions in full on the two programs that used the excerpts,” said Gillespie in the letter to NBC News President Steve Capus.

That does not present much with which to opine on the merits of the dispute.

Here is a transcript of the interview in question via Newsbusters, the White House release of the full interview, and Bush’s Knesset speech. [Marc Ambinder reprints the White House letter.]

Gillespie objected to “both initial questions”; here is the first as presented by NBC:

RICHARD ENGEL: Good morning, Meredith. I started by asking the President about his controversial comments he made in Israel, which Democratic candidates interpreted as a political attack. You said that negotiating with Iran is pointless and then you went further. You’re saying, you said that it was appeasement. Were you referring to Senator Barack Obama? He certainly thought you were.

GEORGE W. BUSH: You know, my policies haven’t changed, but evidently, the political calendar has.

Left on the cutting room floor was this:

People need to read the speech. You didn’t get it exactly right, either. What I said was is that we need to take the words of people seriously. And when, you know, a leader of Iran says that they want to destroy Israel, you’ve got to take those words seriously. And if you don’t take them seriously, then it harkens back to a day when we didn’t take other words seriously. It was fitting that I talked about not taking the words of Adolph Hitler seriously on the floor of the Knesset. But I also talked about the need to defend Israel, the need to not negotiate with the likes of al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas. And the need to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.

But I also talked about a vision of what’s possible in the Middle East.

So Bush did in fact dispute Engel’s characterization of the speech. Here is the next question as presented by NBC:

ENGEL: Negotiations with Iran. Is that appeasement? Is that like appeasing Adolf Hitler?

BUSH: No my, my, my position, Richard, all along, has been that if the Iranians verifiably suspend their enrichment, which will be a key, key measure to stop them from gaining the know-how to build a weapon, then they can come to the table and the United States will be at the table.

Omitted:

…then they can come to the table, and the United States will be at the table. That’s been a position of my administration for gosh, I can’t remember how many years, but it’s a clear position. We’ve stated it over and over again.

But I’ve also said that if they choose not to do that — verifiably suspend — we will continue to rally the world to isolate the Iranians. And it is having an effect inside their country. There’s a better way forward for the Iranian people than to be isolated. And their leaders just need to make better choices.

Like a body after an autopsy, it’s them parts that got cut out tend to matter most.

President Bush states that it’s not “talking” to dictators that qualifies as “appeasement,” but rather the failure to take the evil intentions repeatedly stated by evil regimes seriously. But that got cut from NBC as being an irrelevant point.

I posted an article titled Iraq War Justified. I begin with the fact that the “experts” in both the intelligence community and the media utterly failed to understand Saddam Hussein’s evil and therefore refused to comprehend his repeatedly stated intentions until after he invaded Kuwait.

In the 1930s, the world failed to take Hitler seriously. They simply refused to believe that he would push the world into war. In the 1990s, the world failed to take Saddam seriously. They simply refused to believe that he would push the world into war. And now we have Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeatedly stating that they intend to annihilate Israel, and the world is failing to take them seriously. We are taking lightly an Iranian administration that buys into a cataclysmic Armageddon theology, whose president has said, “I Have a Connection With God, Since God Said That the Infidels Will Have No Way to Harm the Believers”; “We Have [Only] One Step Remaining Before We Attain the Summit of Nuclear Technology”; The West “Will Not Dare To Attack Us.”

And there’s that legitimate question that Obama has not been pressed to answer, namely: if you meet with these people, what do you intend to say to them? Just what is it you think you can accomplish with your words that a legitimate, longstanding American foreign policy position has failed to achieve?

Also omitted were two-thirds of his answer to the question, “Negotiations with Iran. Is that appeasement? Is that like appeasing Adolf Hitler?”

President Bush’s answer: “No my, my, my position, Richard, all along, has been that if the Iranians verifiably suspend their enrichment, which will be a key, key measure to stop them from gaining the know-how to build a weapon, then they can come to the table and the United States will be at the table.”

And combined with the part that got left out by NBC: “Then they can come to the table, and the United States will be at the table. That’s been a position of my administration for gosh, I can’t remember how many years, but it’s a clear position. We’ve stated it over and over again.

But I’ve also said that if they choose not to do that — verifiably suspend — we will continue to rally the world to isolate the Iranians. And it is having an effect inside their country. There’s a better way forward for the Iranian people than to be isolated. And their leaders just need to make better choices.

Clearly, the editorial intent was not to clarify the president’s position, but to leave it as murky – and thus as easy to mischaracterize and attack – as possible.

The question is, if we are NOT going to declare war and launch a massive invasion of Iran, just what ARE we going to do? And the position of the United States – along with most of the civilized world throughout the course of modern history – has been to attempt to isolate dangerous and offensive regimes as a course to force them into change.

That has obtained far superior results to “I’m going to give them a nice, long moral lecture.”

Some years back, liberals cheered and encouraged the use of the isolation policy to bring about the downfall of apartheid South Africa.

But we’re going to change course now, and – instead of trying to force a regime to come into line with a policy acceptable to the world – and – instead of trying to repudiate a despicable regime’s depraved record by refusing to dignify their policies – we are going to start reaching out and talking to them.

Barack, before you try to put your policy to work in Iran, why don’t you go to some of our state prisons and try to have a nice chat with a few of our most violent inmates? [“Guard, will you release this man from his shackles before you leave? I want to have a real conversation with him, without preconditions”]. Tell me how it works out for you.

There are plenty of countries that would love the prestige and influence of a dialog with the leader of the most powerful nation in the history of the world. The privilege of such a visit – which brings status, legitimacy, and benefits – should now be accorded to the most vicious, murderous regimes bent on terrorism and quite possibly even Armageddon.

Neville Chamberlain talked with Adolf Hitler three times, and all it got him was the title of the worst APPEASER in human history. But you know what they say: records are meant to be broken.

Hey, maybe all those countries who have wanted a state visit with the President of the United States but haven’t gotten one should start massively supporting global terrorism and building their own nuclear weapon. Call it ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease’ diplomacy.

More Americans would probably realize just how stupid Obama’s policy really is compared to the Bush policy he has been vilifying, but we have media like NBC to insure that they don’t get the full story.

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