03 November 2003

THIS JUST IN: Molly Ivins peddles prevarications

Molly Ivins’ column appears each Monday in the Seattle Times. In last week’s column (ironically headlined Lie after lie after lie), Ivins told us a whopper of a lie — that the administration sent

500 letters … to American newspapers in the names of serving soldiers without their knowledge or permission

This lie has been debunked here and elsewhere. […]

Today’s column repeated last week’s lie and gave us a brand new lie:

Not to wish ill on Wolfowitz, but he is the one who promised us this war would be “a cakewalk”

I have never found any evidence that Paul Wolfowitz or any other administration figure ever made such a remark. The only verifiable use of the term “cakewalk” in this sense that I’m aware of was made by Kenneth Adelman, who has never been a member of this Bush administration. See for example, Kenneth Adelman’s essay from Feb. 27, 2003

One year ago [2/13/2002], The Washington Post published my article “Cakewalk in Iraq,” which predicted that “demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.”

Though that view has been denounced, even disparaged, by nearly everyone from Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz on down, I remain as confident now as I was then.

[…] I notice that Ivins’ original column contains this other widely discredited lie:

George Nethercutt, a Republican congressman from Washington state, spent four days in Iraq and told an audience at home: “The story of what we’ve done in Iraq is remarkable. It is a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day.”

Major oops. “Let’s ignore the dead soldiers” is not going to improve anything.

The Seattle Times had the good sense to remove the above lie from their version of Ivins’ column

Yeah, that’s a bit of a sensitive topic in Seattle.
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Knowledge is powerful

[source, source, source]
A story about a private school where senior girls were kissing the restroom mirror after putting on lipstick, leaving prints that had to be cleaned every night. Finally, the principal called the girls to the restroom.

To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required.

He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it. Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

There are teachers, and then there are educators.

I’m glad to see that that art of subtlety is not yet lost.

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The advantage of editors and fact checking is …?


On October 26, the Washington Post published a story by Barton Gellman titled Search in Iraq Fails to Find Nuclear Threat, claiming that no evidence of a nuclear program had been found by inspectors in Iraq. Gellman attributed this conclusion largely to Australian Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Meekin, described as the “commander of the largest of a half-dozen units” that report to CIA representative David Kay.

But according to these letters from David Kay and Stephen Meekin published in the WaPo today, Gellman’s report was dishonest to its core: Your story gives the false impression

Well, it’s what he meant to say - Gellman just ‘cleaned up’ the quotes.

Apparently it’s no longer embarassing when one’s primary source writes in to say “you got it all wrong”. Meekin’s letter basically states that Meekin had nothing to do with looking for WMD in Iraq and that he made this point repeatedly to Gellman. Gellman of course then went on to cite Meekin as a source about … looking for WMD in Iraq!

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