Schieffer Treats NYT Attack as Shaming Instead of Badge of Honor

On Sunday, for the second time in days, a network journalist presumed Rudy Giuliani should be ashamed and defensive about a Friday New York Times editorial which denigrated his character, instead of seeing it, as any conservative would, as a badge of honor. On Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer reminded Giuliani how his “home town newspaper....really took after you. They said your 'arrogance,' your 'vindictiveness' were, I think, are 'breathtaking,' in their phrase. What do you say about that when people ask you about that?”

Giuliani explained how “most of my ideology that I put into place in New York City they opposed, including the one we've talked about most this morning, which is, you know, large tax cuts.” Indeed, Schieffer had echoed New York Times-like thinking on tax cuts as irresponsible when, earlier in the interview segment, he pressed Giuliani: “You talk about cutting taxes as the way to turn a government around. You said that's what you did in New York. But isn't that going to be kind of difficult with a war that's costing $220,000 a minute?”

My Thursday night NewsBusters posting, “As NYT Hails McCain, Williams Makes Rudy Answer Its Belittling,” recounted:

Instead of pressing John McCain to defend himself to Republican primary voters in the wake of a New York Times editorial endorsing him which praised McCain for his more liberal views on global warming, campaign finance and illegal immigration, during Thursday night's GOP presidential debate on MSNBC, Brian Williams demanded Rudy Giuliani respond to the denigration of him by the left-wing newspaper -- which Williams called "your home town paper" -- as a "vindictive man" with a "breathtaking" level of "arrogance and bad judgment." To audience applause, Giuliani pointed out that if he ever "did anything the New York Times suggested...I wouldn't be considered a conservative Republican."

Concluding the 97-minute debate from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Williams promised questions about "how you counter the attacks against you from your opponents," presumably those on stage, and Williams did hit Mitt Romney on his flip-flops and McCain on his age. But leading off with Giuliani shortly before 10:30pm EST, Williams pursued:

In tomorrow morning's editions of the New York Times they are out with their endorsements in the New York primary. Senator Clinton on the Democratic side, Senator McCain on the Republican side. In tonight's lead editorial, they say, quote: “The real Mr. Giuliani, who many New Yorkers came to know and mistrust, is a narrow, obsessively secretive vindictive man. His arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking.” How can you defend against that in your home town paper? How have you changed as a man since this portrait?

The January 25 New York Times editorial endorsing McCain and trashing Giuliani.

Tangentially, in his "Best of the Web Today" compilation Friday for the Wall Street Journal's online editorial page, James Taranto noticed "Two Editorial Pages in One!" in contrasting the January 25 editorial denigrating Giuliani with one from when Giuliani left office at the end of 2001 which hailed how Giuliani "more than did the job."

From Friday's editorial:

The real Mr. Giuliani, whom many New Yorkers came to know and mistrust, is a narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man who saw no need to limit police power. Racial polarization was as much a legacy of his tenure as the rebirth of Times Square. Mr. Giuliani's arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking. When he claims fiscal prudence, we remember how he ran through surpluses without a thought to the inevitable downturn and bequeathed huge deficits to his successor. He fired Police Commissioner William Bratton, the architect of the drop in crime, because he couldn't share the limelight. He later gave the job to Bernard Kerik, who has now been indicted on fraud and corruption charges.

From a December 30, 2001 editorial:

It would be easy to go on about the things Mr. Giuliani failed to do -- New York City has so many problems and crises and needs that all mayors leave office with far more losses than wins. The most its residents can expect of a mayor is that he -- or someday she -- accomplish one big thing, as Mayor Koch did in restoring the city's financial health. If that one achievement is important enough, it will come to stand for everything. When measured in that way, Mr. Giuliani more than did the job. He restored New Yorkers' confidence in their ability to control the city's destiny. The long years he spent fighting crime and disorder became the platform from which he showed us how to fight terrorism and Osama bin Laden.

Back now to Sunday, from the January 27 Face the Nation, the exchange about endorsements and the New York Times attack, with Schieffer in Washington, DC and Giuliani in Boca Raton, Florida:

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, Mr. Mayor, yesterday was not a very good day for Senator Clinton, that's for sure, but it also really wasn't a very good for you, because the governor of Florida, who has 70 percent approval ratings, announced that he was going to endorse John McCain. I think the day before, the state's Republican Senator, Mel Martinez, a former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, surprised a lot of people, especially Mitt Romney, who thought he was going to get his endorsement, and he endorsed Senator McCain. And that comes on the heels of your hometown newspaper, the New York Times, also endorsing Senator McCain. That puts you in a pretty tough spot, doesn't it?

RUDY GIULIANI: The reality is, I was surprised by the governor's endorsement, but everybody endorses. The attorney general, Bill McCollum, a long-time Congressman here, now attorney general, endorses me, is my campaign chairman. We have a lot of support here in -- here in Florida, mayors and people up and down the state. The reality is, I think the people of Florida are going to make this decision, and I think the people of Florida see in me a proven tax cutter, someone who's actually turned an economy around, actually done what they would like to see done on a federal level; I already did that in New York. And of all the candidates that are running in the race, I'm the one who's actually lowered taxes in the past and turned around an economy. And I have a significant amount of experience with handling the safety and security of millions of people. I think if people of Florida hear that, that's going to be the thing that decides this election. We all have endorsements--governor, senator, attorney general, mayor -- we all have different endorsements, but in the long run it's getting your message to the people of Florida that's the most important thing.

SCHIEFFER: I want to give you a chance to respond to that endorsement by the New York Times, because they really took after you. They said your “arrogance,” your “vindictiveness” were, I think, are “breathtaking,” in their phrase. What do you say about that when people ask you about that?

GIULIANI: I was a Mayor of New York City that I think brought about the biggest turnaround in the history of the city. Crime, welfare, the economy of the city, unemployment went from 10.5 percent to 5 percent, 600,000 people removed from welfare. I changed some of the rules, some of the social norms, some of the ways in which people look at things. The Times opposed most of my initiatives; they saw them differently than I did. So I was not at all surprised by their lack of an endorsement or their endorsement. I didn't expect it to go any other way. Most of, most of my ideology that I put into place in New York City they opposed, including the one we've talked about most this morning, which is, you know, large tax cuts. But I truly believe that if you cut taxes correctly, you actually gain revenues and you gain revenues in a healthy way. You gain revenues by putting more people to work, by building businesses, building jobs, and it's a healthy way for an economy to grow rather than heavy taxes to transfer wealth, which I think puts a lid on an economy.

2008 Presidential Face the Nation
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