Two Bush-aides-turned-reporters invent a Biden "gaffe"

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Here's Joe Biden talking about his dog to a group of schoolchildren in Syracuse, New York:

Do I have a dog? I got a great dog. Have I ever petted a dog? Oh yeah, and guess what? I got one who lives with me. The coolest, smartest dog in the world. His name is Champ. And he's a German sheppard. And he is the neatest dog ... I kid the president. My dog is smarter than Bo, his dog. [Schoolchildren laugh] I think, yeah I do. I think he is. But Bo is a beautiful dog, too.

Here's the video. Watch for yourself. This is clearly not someone who is insulting President Obama's dog; this is clearly someone who A) loves his dog and B) is making a joke about the relative intelligence of his dog and the President's dog. Schoolchildren understand that; they laugh at the joke.

Now here's how Christian Science Monitor reporter Jimmy Orr describes the comments, under the headline - yes, he put this nonsense in the headline! -- "Biden insults President Obama's dog at Syracuse":

It was as though Vice President Biden time-warped back to last fall. Because on Sunday he was in full campaign attack mode.

...

You've praised your dog. Why denigrate another?

Because in campaigns you have to differentiate yourself from your opponent. And campaigns are in Biden's blood. That's when he let it be known that Bo Obama was a dolt.

"The new dog I have is only five months old and his name is Champ," Biden told the schoolkids.

"My dog is smarter than Bo, his dog," he jabbed.

"I think so," he taunted. Yeah, I do."

...

To watch the full shocking video, click here. To understand what Vice President Biden meant to say, watch Robert Gibbs' press briefing tomorrow.

Nowhere did Orr indicate that Biden was clearly joking around. Perhaps he really didn't understand what was clear to the laughing schoolchildren. In any case, his descriptions of Biden in "full attack mode" are absurd, and he introduces a direct falsehood: Joe Biden did not say Bo is a "dolt." Nothing like it.

Enter Andrew Malcolm. Here's how the Los Angeles Times reporter described the event, based on Orr's work (after referring to "Obama's dumb dog" in the headline):

Perhaps the real Biden news of the day, however, comes this morning from Jimmy Orr over at the Vote blog. He tells us that after his commencement address, Biden stopped by the old neighborhood where he lived and visited with about 100 schoolchildren, who must have been thrilled to be called in on a Sunday for a political photo op.

One of them asked if the VP had ever pet a dog. And Biden took the occasion to praise his new dog Champ, and to insult Obama's new dog, Bo, as being far less intelligent than Champ. Biden quickly added that Bo was "a beautiful dog too." But the damage had been done. Add that one to the gaffe book.

Again: false. Biden didn't say Bo was "far" less intelligent than Champ. That may seem like nit-picking, but when reporters feel the need to exaggerate what politicians say in order to portray the comment as a "gaffe," that's a pretty good sign there wasn't really anything wrong with the actual comment.

Oh, but the "damage had been done," according to Malcolm. Damage? What damage? The kids in the audience laughed at the obvious and harmless joke. Andrew Malcolm, however, exaggerated and mischaracterized the joke so that he could call it a "gaffe," continuing his bizarre war on Biden.

What kind of person twists a politician's loving comments about his dog into a "gaffe"? What kind of person twists an innocent and playful comment that is so clearly a joke that young schoolchildren understand it into a "full campaign attack mode" insult?

Maybe some background information is in order: Andrew Malcolm was Laura Bush's press secretary. Jimmy Orr was a spokesman for George W. Bush.

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