NY Times uncritically quoted Jindal's misrepresentation of Obama remarks

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH

The New York Times uncritically repeated Gov. Bobby Jindal's misrepresentation of a quote from President Obama, and quoting from an advanced excerpt of Jindal's speech, wrote: " 'A few weeks ago, the president warned that our nation is facing a crisis that he said "we may not be able to reverse," ' Mr. Jindal said. 'But don't let anyone tell you that we cannot recover -- or that America's best days are behind her.' " In fact, Obama stated that if his economic recovery plan were not passed, "we may not be able to reverse" the current economic crisis.

In reporting on the Republican response to President Obama's February 24 address to a joint session of Congress, The New York Times' David Stout uncritically repeated the misrepresentation of an Obama quote by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who delivered the response. In a February 24 online article, Stout reported that Jindal "sought to turn President Obama's recent words against him on the subject of optimism," and then quoted from an advanced excerpt of Jindal's speech: " 'A few weeks ago, the president warned that our nation is facing a crisis that he said "we may not be able to reverse," ' Mr. Jindal said. 'But don't let anyone tell you that we cannot recover -- or that America's best days are behind her.' " In fact, in the January 8 speech and the February 5 Washington Post op-ed in which Obama used the phrase "we may not be able to reverse," he did not suggest that "we cannot recover" or that "America's best days are behind her." Instead, he stated that if his economic recovery plan were not passed, "we may not be able to reverse" the current economic crisis.

Indeed, during his speech, Obama said that if his plan were not passed, "we may not be able to reverse" the crisis: "That is not the country I know, and it is not a future I will accept as President of the United States."

In his January 8 speech, Obama stated:

It is time to set a new course for this economy, and that change must begin now. We should have an open and honest discussion about this recovery plan in the days ahead, but I urge Congress to move as quickly as possible on behalf of the American people. For every day we wait or point fingers or drag our feet, more Americans will lose their jobs. More families will lose their savings. More dreams will be deferred and denied. And our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.

That is not the country I know, and it is not a future I will accept as President of the United States. A world that depends on the strength of our economy is now watching and waiting for America to lead once more. And that is what we will do.

In his February 5 op-ed, Obama wrote:

What Americans expect from Washington is action that matches the urgency they feel in their daily lives -- action that's swift, bold and wise enough for us to climb out of this crisis.

Because each day we wait to begin the work of turning our economy around, more people lose their jobs, their savings and their homes. And if nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.

That's why I feel such a sense of urgency about the recovery plan before Congress. With it, we will create or save more than 3 million jobs over the next two years, provide immediate tax relief to 95 percent of American workers, ignite spending by businesses and consumers alike, and take steps to strengthen our country for years to come.

As Media Matters for America noted, Politico and MSNBC.com also advanced Jindal's false attack based on released excerpts of his response.

From Stout's February 24 article:

Not only has Mr. Obama indicated his willingness to tackle several problems at once, he has also pledged to cut the yearly budget deficits in half by the end of his first term. This will be accomplished, he said, by poring over federal spending ''line by line'' to eradicate wasteful or ineffective programs in areas as diverse as the Iraq campaign and aid to American agriculture. In his rebuttal, Governor Jindal said Republicans had lost the trust of the people -- ''and rightly so'' -- by forsaking party principles of limited government, fiscal discipline and personal responsibility. But he sought to turn President Obama's recent words against him on the subject of optimism.

''A few weeks ago, the president warned that our nation is facing a crisis that he said 'we may not be able to reverse,''' Mr. Jindal said. ''But don't let anyone tell you that we cannot recover -- or that America's best days are behind her.''

Posted In
Economy
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Stories/Interests
Economic Recovery Plan
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