Syndicated columnist and PBS regular Mark Shields on Friday actually said on national television that he has never heard a Democratic leader or presidential candidate accuse former President George W. Bush of lying America into the Iraq War.
This was said in response to Charles Krauthammer telling his fellow "Inside Washington" panelists that this all too common media assertion is the "essential untruth of this decade" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
GORDON PETERSON, HOST: What’s happened to honest objective reporting?
EVAN THOMAS, NEWSWEEK: Well, I’m not sure there ever was honest objective reporting, but there is an interesting thing going on. You would think with the internet and cable and all these new outlets, more information should mean more truth. The more information, the freer, the more open it is should mean more truth. But I worry that the opposite has happened. That, there, it’s now more possible for untruth to adhere, to take hold. In the example that people were talking about this week was this thing that got out from first the Indian press, then to Drudge, then to the right wing radio guys and then Congress that Obama was spending $200 million a day on his foreign trip which was just nonsense. It was finally knocked down. But, you start to wonder, you hear, people get their information by the internet, by e-mails from their Uncle Joe. You know, if that’s where they are getting their information, is it possible that real untruth will take hold in a way that we didn’t think was possible in our system?
NINA TOTENBERG, NPR: I think that this a, this is worrisome, and it’s left and right. It’s the people who think the Bush administration somehow was responsible for 9/11, or that a trip that clearly costs in total something like five or six million at the most, and it’s really 200 million. It’s not the same, I mean a day. They’re, they’re not the same in importance obviously, but, but, this really, the fact that there is no -- there doesn’t seem to be any factual agreement about anything allows us to sort of entertain the most odd and conspiratorial fantasies.
PETERSON: Well, when Walter Cronkite was doing the news, we had ABC, we had NBC, we had CBS, we had the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago papers and so forth. We didn’t have all these myriad sources of information which, there was sort of a standard belief about things, Charles.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Right, and it, the gatekeepers were largely bicoastal liberals, and there was, and people would take their news from the front page of the New York Times. Now you have competition. People are all upset. I must say speaking about weird conspiracy theories which develop into untruth, people are all worried about, you know, a detail about Obama’s trip. The essential untruth of this decade was that George Bush, a president, lied us into war, an act of treason, he deliberately distorted the facts knowing that there were no weapons of mass destruction. Lied us into war. It wasn’t that he made a mistake. Lied us into war, which is not only widely held, it was, it’s, it’s, it’s repeated by columnists in the New York Times, by Democratic leaders. It’s not just internet weird stuff, and I don’t remember my liberal colleagues being upset about the death of truth at that point.
PETERSON: But we never did find weapons of mass destruction as I recall.
KRAUTHAMMER: That doesn’t mean he lied us into war. There’s a big difference.
TOTENBERG: The truth was there were no weapons of mass destruction.
MARK SHIELDS, PBS: It was a question of reckless and negligent taking the nation to war on a totally flawed and false premise.
KRAUTHAMMER: Are you denying that Democratic leaders have accused Bush of lying us into war?
MARK SHIELDS: I have never heard a Democratic leader, we have to define who Democratic leaders, I never heard a Democratic candidate for president say this, or anybody who was in question for that. But I think we are in a different time and a different era. We can talk about the new outlets and everything else. Nobody ever questioned that John Kennedy was a Catholic or Ronald Reagan was a Presbyterian or Harry Truman was a Baptist or Richard Nixon was a Quaker. But when you get a large segment questioning whether Barack Obama is a Christian, whether in fact he’s an American, and that number is growing, then I’ll tell you, that’s the byproduct of what you are describing, of irresponsible unedited and unaccountable information being circulated both in broadcast, internet, and in print.
Was Shields out of the country during the 2004 presidential campaign? Did he somehow miss many of the Democratic presidential candidates at that time making the "Bush lied" assertion including Howard Dean and the eventual nominee John Kerry?
What's fascinating is Shields would make this claim in a segment that began with the host asking, "What’s happened to honest objective reporting" to be followed by Thomas's "Is it possible that real untruth will take hold in a way that we didn’t think was possible in our system?"
Yeah, I'd say that's possible, Evan, given the number of people on the left that have regularly espoused the untruth that Bush lied to get the nation into the Iraq War.
Also curious was Shields equating Obama's religion issue with the press mimicking the "Bush Lied" Democrat talking point.
It seems quite clear Shields finds the former far worse than the latter.
Color me very unsurprised.