Unlikely Safire replacement Goldberg shares something with other possible Safire successors: a penchant for misinformation

››› ››› NICOLE CASTA

On November 30, the weblog "Send Jonah to the New York Times" was launched, describing itself as "a wild attempt to convince the New York Times to hire" nationally syndicated columnist and National Review Online editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg to replace conservative columnist William Safire, who is retiring early next year. Also on November 30, in a post on National Review Online's weblog, The Corner, Goldberg wrote that he had participated in a public discussion earlier that day with New York Times columnist David Brooks: "It was a good time and I had lunch with Brooks afterwards. Unfortunately, I learned next to nothing about the Times gig [Safire's position], except that there is not a lot of buzz about yours truly and that nobody at the Times knows about this." Goldberg's post linked to an entry on the "Send Jonah to the New York Times" blog.

Goldberg downplayed his chances in a separate post on The Corner later the same day, writing: "I'm not really lobbying for the Safire job, nor do I think I have the remotest chance in the world of ever getting it. I think it's kind of funny to talk about though." But likely candidate or not, Goldberg, like several others who have been named as possible Safire successors, has demonstrated a penchant for misinformation.

Media Matters for America has documented numerous instances of Goldberg's distortions and false assertions:

  • In his November 12 nationally syndicated column, Goldberg stated that the controversy over government access to library records under the USA Patriot Act was due to "exaggerations" by Democratic public officials. Goldberg asserted that under the act, "not one library was ever searched. Ever." As Media Matters noted, since the Patriot Act prohibits libraries that have been served with a search warrant from publicly disclosing even the existence of such a warrant, Goldberg did not offer -- and presumably could not have offered -- any support for his assertion.
  • On October 29, Goldberg echoed President Bush's distortion of a quote by John Kerry from an article in the October 10 edition of The New York Times Magazine. Goldberg quoted Kerry out of context in order to assert that "Kerry admitted that the September 11 terrorist attacks hadn't changed his thinking about foreign policy 'much at all.'" Goldberg omitted the rest of Kerry's quote, in which he explained that the 9-11 attacks "accelerated, confirmed in me, the urgency of doing the things I thought we needed to be doing [with regard to terrorism]."
  • On October 27, Goldberg was a part of the conservative media chorus that wrongly seized on an October 25 NBC News report to defend Bush from an October 25 New York Times article reporting that 380 tons of high explosives went missing from the Al Qaqaa military installation in Iraq. The Bush-Cheney '04 campaign and conservatives in the media seized on this report even though, as then-NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw noted: "For its part, the Bush campaign immediately pointed to our report as conclusive proof that the weapons had been removed before the Americans arrived. That is possible, but that is not what we reported."
  • On October 22, Goldberg echoed the misleading charge that the Democratic Party's official policy is to make baseless allegations of voter intimidation against Republicans. This charge was based on Republican distortions of a Democratic National Committee (DNC) Election Day manual advising party workers on methods for combating potential efforts to intimidate minority voters. The manual does not encourage party workers -- either explicitly or implicitly -- to fabricate stories of voter suppression.
  • On July 27, in his first daily column from the Democratic National Convention for USA Today, Goldberg distorted a New York Times survey of Democratic delegates. In arguing that convention delegates are "far to the left of the mainstream," Goldberg claimed that "5 out of 6 say the war on terrorism and national security aren't that important," when, in fact, the survey's respondents never said that.

In October 2002, Goldberg wrote the following about the Washington, DC-area sniper in a post on The Corner:

IS JOHN MUHAMMED A THREEFER? We know the Sniper is a Nation of Islam Muslim (which is to say he belongs to a cult that uses Islamic jargon). We know he's black. But I've got this nagging feeling we might find out that he also practices an alternative lifestyle -- I mean besides from all of the murdering. There's just something about this Batman and Robin act -- Malvo is his "ward"? -- that strikes me as odd, in a specific way. Call it a hunch. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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