Since the successful raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan nine days ago, MSNBC has been playing highly-edited snippets from George W. Bush's March 13, 2002, press conference to make it appear the 43rd president had dropped the ball concerning the former al Qaeda leader.
Chris Matthews did this Tuesday during a Bush-bashing segment on "Hardball" (multi-part video follows with complete transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Here’s what then President Bush said about bin Laden just seven months after the 9/11 attacks. This is George W. Bush, president of the United States, talking about our number one enemy. Let’s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who knows if he’s hiding in some cave or not. We haven’t heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don’t understand the scope of the mission. And he’s just -- he’s a person who’s now been marginalized. So I don’t know where he is. Nor -- you know, I just don’t spend that much time on it, really, to be honest with you. I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s at the center of any command structure. And again, you know, I don’t know where he is. I -- I repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Joan, I’m not a Bush hater, but that was wiseass behavior there, just wiseass.
MATTHEWS: I mean, this is the rich kid acting like, I don’t care about that old girlfriend that dumped me. I mean, that was behavioral weirdness right then.
Look familiar to you?
Well, it's because MSNBC has been playing a similarly edited clip for days. The one Matthews showed lasted a grand total of 40 seconds comprising only 123 words.
Bush's full answer to a reporter on March 13, 2002, lasted almost four full minutes and was a far more thorough 600 words:
QUESTION: Mr. President, in your speeches now, you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that?
Also, can you can tell the American people if you have any more information -- if you know if he is dead or alive. Deep in your heart, don't you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won't really want to make...
BUSH: Well, deep in my heart, I know the man's on the run if he's alive at all. And I -- you know, who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not? We hadn't heard from him in a long time.
And the idea of focusing on one person is really -- indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission. Terror's bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who has now been marginalized. His network is -- his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match.
He is -- you know, as I mention in my speeches -- I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death. And he, himself, tries to hide, if, in fact, he's hiding at all.
So I don't know where he is. Nor -- you know, I just don't spend that much time on him really, to be honest with you. I'm more worried about making sure that our soldiers are well supplied, that the strategy is clear, that the coalition is strong, that when we find enemy bunched up, like we did in Shah-e-Kot mountains, that the military has all the support it needs to go in and do the job, which they did.
And there will be other battles in Afghanistan. There's going to be other struggles like Shah-e-Kot. And I'm just as confident about the outcome of those future battles as I was about Shah-e-kot, where our soldiers are performing brilliantly; we're tough, we're strong, they're well-equipped, we have a good strategy. We are showing the world we know how to fight a guerrilla war with conventional means.
QUESTION: Do you believe the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead of alive?
BUSH: As I say, we hadn't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, you know, again, I don't know where he is.
I'll repeat what I said: I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.
But, you know, once we set out the policy and started executing the plan, he became -- we shoved him out more and more on the margins.
He has no place to train his al Qaeda killers anymore. And if we find a training camp, we'll take care of it -- either we will or our friends will. That's one of the things that's part of the new phase that's becoming apparent to the American people is that we're working closely with other governments to deny sanctuary or training or a place to hide or a place to raise money. And we got more work to do.
See, that's the thing the American people have got to understand -- that we've only been at this six months. This is going to be a long struggle. I keep saying that. I don't know whether you all believe me or not. But time will show you that it's going to take a long time to achieve this objective.
And I can assure you I am not going to blink, and I'm not going to get tired, because I know what is at stake. And history has called us to action and I am going to seize this moment for the good of the world, for peace in the world and for freedom.
Rather different than what Matthews showed Tuesday, isn't it?
According to LexisNexis, similarly edited clips of this press conference have been aired on MSNBC eleven times since bin Laden's death. Besides Matthews on Tuesday, such snippets were shown four times on "The Last Word," and twice each on "MSNBC Live," "The Rachel Maddow Show," and "The Ed Show." Readers are advised that MSNBC only transcribes its weekday programs during extended prime time.
Readers are also advised that MSNBC severely castigated Andrew Breitbart for publishing an edited version of Shirley Sherrod's comments at an NAACP meeting last year. This network went into a full-scale uproar when a previously unknown Department of Agriculture official had her videotaped words edited and disseminated on the blogosphere.
The same was true in September 2009 when conservative activist James O'Keefe published edited interviews with ACORN representatives while posing as a pimp.
Now, quite hypocritically, MSNBC is doing the exact same thing to a former president.
I guess selectively editing videos is completely acceptable to this so-called "news" network if the person speaking is a Republican.