Wash. Post's Dobbs criticized Clinton for citing "somewhat misleading" 1996 Post report that the Post has yet to correct

››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

In his "Fact Checker" column, The Washington Post's Michael Dobbs criticized Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign for "cit[ing]" a Post article about her 1996 trip to Bosnia -- an article Dobbs described as "somewhat misleading." However, the Post has yet to correct the article that the Clinton campaign has cited.

In his March 27 "Fact Checker" column for The Washington Post, staff writer Michael Dobbs faulted Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign for "cit[ing]" a March 26, 1996, Post article to "bolster the senator's claim that her now-famous March 1996 trip to Bosnia was the first visit to a 'war zone' by a first lady since World War II." Dobbs' reason: The article's "factoids ... offer a somewhat misleading picture." In other words, Dobbs faulted Clinton for relying on an article in his own newspaper, which the Post has yet to correct.

Dobbs wrote: "The Clinton campaign has cited newspaper accounts, including one in The Washington Post, to bolster the senator's claim that her now-famous March 1996 trip to Bosnia was the first visit to a 'war zone' by a first lady since World War II. She is overlooking a trip to Saigon by Pat Nixon at the height of the Vietnam War as well as a trip by Barbara Bush to Saudi Arabia two months before the Persian Gulf War began." The 1996 Post article had reported that Clinton's trip to Bosnia was "the first time since Roosevelt that a first lady has voyaged to a potential combat zone." Referring to that article in particular, Dobbs wrote: "Just because something has appeared in a newspaper does not mean that is entirely accurate." He added, "How these factoids got into the Post story is unclear, but they offer a somewhat misleading picture of the relative risks being run by the three first ladies [Clinton, Barbara Bush, and Pat Nixon]."

Dobbs concluded, "[I]t is worth correcting the record about Pat Nixon's visit to Vietnam in July 1969." The online Washington Post archive and the LexisNexis database show no correction appended to the March 26, 1996, Post article.

From the March 27, 2008, edition of the Post:

The Clinton campaign has cited newspaper accounts, including one in The Washington Post, to bolster the senator's claim that her now-famous March 1996 trip to Bosnia was the first visit to a "war zone" by a first lady since World War II. She is overlooking a trip to Saigon by Pat Nixon at the height of the Vietnam War as well as a trip by Barbara Bush to Saudi Arabia two months before the Persian Gulf War began.

THE FACTS

Just because something has appeared in a newspaper does not mean that is entirely accurate. The Clinton camp has circulated a March 26, 1996, quote from a Post article describing Clinton's Bosnia trip as "the first time since Roosevelt that a first lady has voyaged to a potential combat zone." The article went on to say that "other first ladies have visited troops abroad but never in front-line positions," citing the examples of Bush and Nixon.

How these factoids got into the Post story is unclear, but they offer a somewhat misleading picture of the relative risks being run by the three first ladies. By almost any measure, the Nixon trip to Saigon in July 1969 should surely count as the most dangerous of the three visits. Unlike Bosnia in March 1996 and Saudi Arabia in November 1990, South Vietnam was an actual, not "potential," war zone in the aftermath of the 1968 Tet offensive, said retired Army Lt. Col. Gene Boyer, the Nixons' chief helicopter pilot.

[...]

There would seem little more to debunk about Clinton's adventures in Bosnia. But it is worth correcting the record about Pat Nixon's visit to Vietnam in July 1969.

Posted In
Environment & Science
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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