Following NY Times, The Hill misquoted Clinton's civil rights comments

››› ››› BRIAN FREDERICK

The Hill misquoted Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's January 7 comments about civil rights by presenting two different parts of Clinton's statement as one continuous quote without indicating that words had been omitted.

A January 16 article in The Hill misquoted Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) January 7 comments about civil rights. According to The Hill, "The dispute began last week, when Hillary Clinton, making the case for her experience in government, said "Dr. [Martin Luther] King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done." In fact, Clinton said that "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the president before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done" [emphasis added]. The Hill omitted the wording in italics, without indicating through ellipses or otherwise that it had omitted words.

The Hill article followed a January 13 New York Times article by Adam Nagourney and Patrick Healy, which misquoted Clinton in the same manner. Nagourney and Healy wrote: "This was what Mrs. Clinton said on Monday: 'Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done.' " Like the Hill article, Nagourney and Healy quoted two different parts of Clinton's statement as one continuous quote without ellipses to indicate that words had been omitted.

Clinton's remarks came during a January 7 interview, when Fox News political correspondent Major Garrett asked Clinton if she would react to a portion of a quote from Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama: "False hopes? ... Dr. King standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial looking out over the magnificent crowd, the Reflecting Pool, the Washington Monument: 'Sorry, guys. False hope. The dream will die. It can't be done.' " Clinton said:

I would, and I would point to the fact that Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the president before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done. That dream became a reality. The power of that dream became real in people's lives because we had a president who said, "We are going to do it," and actually got it accomplished.

From the January 16 article in The Hill:

He [House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.)] said Bill Clinton sought to explain what he meant by his heavily scrutinized "fairy tale" comment, and Clyburn said he took the former president at his word. It is unclear who initiated the conversations, though Clyburn suggested that Bill Clinton reached out to him, saying he "heard" from the ex-president.

The dispute began last week, when Hillary Clinton, making the case for her experience in government, said "Dr. [Martin Luther] King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done."

Clinton quickly sought to clarify her remarks, but many black voters felt she was diminishing the revered civil rights leader.

Mr. Clyburn raised the stakes in the fight later in the week when he told The New York Times that Hillary Clinton's comments "bothered me a great deal."

"We have to be very, very careful about how we speak about that era in American politics. It is one thing to run a campaign and be respectful of everyone's motives and actions, and it is something else to denigrate those," Clyburn said.

He also said Bill Clinton's description of Obama's campaign narrative as a "fairy tale" seemed insulting.

Clyburn said it misses the point to argue whether Martin Luther King Jr. or President Lyndon Johnson was more important to the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1964.

"I don't think you can go back and make value judgments about who was more important, the person who brings it to the table or the person who gets it passed," Clyburn said.

Posted In
Elections, Justice & Civil Liberties
Network/Outlet
The New York Times, The Hill
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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