Scarborough retracted false statement about Hillary Clinton, but wouldn't back offMay 3, 2004 7:29 PM EDT ››› NICOLE CASTA
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, formerly a Republican member of Congress from Florida, made a false statement about Senator Hillary Clinton during his broadcast last week; but even after being forced to acknowledge the error, Scarborough continued his attacks on two subsequent shows.
On the April 27 Scarborough Country, Scarborough reported that Senator Clinton "bash[ed] George Bush and American foreign policy while speaking to an Arab newspaper." The only news sources that had reported this story were right-wing websites NewsMax.com and WorldNet Daily.com.
On April 28, Scarborough opened his show by saying that "today, the senator's [Clinton's] office tried to strong-arm us into retracting that story. We are going to tell you how it all went down and who ended up being right." Scarborough told his viewers that Clinton's office insisted that she had been interviewed by a freelance journalist writing for the international press and not by the Arab paper that eventually ran the story, contrary to what Scarborough had originally reported. Scarborough then proceeded to devote his entire show to scrutinizing the comments Clinton made to the international press, as he asked questions such as "[W]hat kind of impact does this kind of talk have on the morale of our troops overseas?" and displaying on-screen text questioning whether Clinton's comments gave comfort to the enemy.
At the beginning of the show, guest Howard Wolfson, Senator Clinton's former press secretary, told Scarborough, "Joe, you're the one who was caught on live television saying something that was wrong." But it wasn't until the end of the show -- when Wolfson told Scarborough, "You have a responsibility to your viewers to say, you know, yesterday I was wrong. ... I misstated" -- that Scarborough finally retracted his original false report, saying, "Howard, you got me. She spoke to the international press instead of the Arab press."
Nevertheless, during his April 29 show, Scarborough continued to make an issue of Clinton's comments to the international press. For the third night in a row, Scarborough devoted at least a portion of his show to "Senator Clinton's scathing anti-war remarks." This time, Scarborough wanted to know why he was the only one covering this story while "[T]he rest of the media has ignored [Clinton's] statements."
Scarborough's two guests -- Fred Dicker, editor for the conservative New York Post, and Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers -- both had the same answer. Dicker said, "Well, it sounded pretty much to me, Joe, like what she said many times before. I didn't think it was that big of a deal . most people in the media didn't think it was that big of a deal." Powers agreed: "Why is nobody else covering the story? I will tell you why. Because there's no story. Hillary never spoke to [an] Arab newspaper."