NY Times mischaracterized Boxer amendment, claimed it was "extremely similar" to Cornyn amendment repudiating MoveOn.org ad

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

A New York Times article on the passage of Sen. John Cornyn's amendment repudiating a MoveOn.org ad critical of Gen. David Petraeus described another amendment by Sen. Barbara Boxer as "extremely similar" and claimed that Boxer's amendment "did not mention the MoveOn.org ad." In fact, Boxer's amendment did mention the MoveOn.org ad but, unlike Cornyn's amendment, also noted Republican-backed attacks against Democratic Sen. John Kerry and former Sen. Max Cleland in condemning "all attacks on the honor, integrity, and patriotism" of those who have served in the military.

In a September 21 article on the passage of Sen. John Cornyn's (R-TX) amendment that, in the words of the amendment, "repudiate[s] the unwarranted personal attack on General [David H.] Petraeus by the liberal activist group Moveon.org," The New York Times reported that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) was "curiously absent from the vote," and that "Mr. Obama had voted minutes earlier in favor of an extremely similar resolution proposed by Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California." According to the article: "Ms. Boxer's proposal, which failed, called for the Senate to 'strongly condemn all attacks on the honor, integrity and patriotism' of anyone in the United States armed forces. It did not mention the MoveOn.org ad." In fact, Boxer's amendment did mention the MoveOn.org advertisement, calling it an "an unwarranted personal attack on General Petraeus." Moreover, in describing the amendments as "extremely similar," the Times did not report that, while Cornyn's amendment singled out the MoveOn.org ad, Boxer's amendment also cited Republican-backed attacks against Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and former Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA) in condemning "all attacks on the honor, integrity, and patriotism of any individual who is serving or has served honorably" in the military.

Also, in reporting simply that Boxer's amendment "failed," the Times did not note that 50 senators voted in support of the measure while 47 voted against it, and that the opposition was almost entirely Republican -- Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) voted against both the Boxer and Cornyn amendments. Under an agreement reached by the Senate leadership, a cloture vote and a vote on final passage were combined for this and other Iraq-related amendments, meaning that the amendment needed 60 votes to pass.

From Boxer's amendment:

(1) The men and women of the United States Armed Forces and our veterans deserve to be supported, honored, and defended when their patriotism is attacked;

(2) In 2002, a Senator from Georgia [Cleland] who is a Vietnam veteran, triple amputee, and the recipient of a Silver Star and Bronze Star, had his courage and patriotism attacked in an advertisement in which he was visually linked to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein;

(3) This attack was aptly described by a Senator and Vietnam veteran as "reprehensible'';

(4) In 2004, a Senator from Massachusetts [Kerry] who is a Vietnam veteran and the recipient of a Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, and three Purple Hearts, was personally attacked and accused of dishonoring his country;

(5) This attack was aptly described by a Senator and Vietnam veteran as "dishonest and dishonorable.''

(6) On September 10, 2007, an advertisement in the New York Times was an unwarranted personal attack on General Petraeus; who is honorably leading our Armed Forces in Iraq and carrying out the mission assigned to him by the President of the United States; and

(7) Such personal attacks on those with distinguished military service to our nation have become all too frequent.

(b) SENSE OF SENATE. -- It is the sense of the Senate --

(1) to reaffirm its strong support for all of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces; and

(2) to strongly condemn all attacks on the honor, integrity, and patriotism of any individual who is serving or has served honorably in the United States Armed Forces, by any person or organization.

From the September 21 New York Times article:

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, both Democratic candidates for president, voted against the resolution, which passed 72 to 25.

But curiously absent from the vote was Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, also a Democratic candidate for president, who had canceled a campaign appearance in South Carolina so he could be in Washington for votes.

Mr. Obama issued a statement calling the resolution, put forward by Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, ''a stunt.'' Mr. Obama said, ''By not casting a vote, I registered my protest against these empty politics.''

Mr. Obama had voted minutes earlier in favor of an extremely similar resolution proposed by Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California.

Ms. Boxer's proposal, which failed, called for the Senate to ''strongly condemn all attacks on the honor, integrity and patriotism'' of anyone in the United States armed forces. It did not mention the MoveOn.org ad. Mr. Dodd and Mrs. Clinton also voted in favor of Ms. Boxer's proposal.

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination, was in Iowa and did not vote.

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