The NYT on Karl Rove’s “Searing…Lacerating…Blistering” Speech

The NYT's chief political reporter Adam Nagourney was ultra-sensitive to any sign of harsh Republican rhetoric during the 2004 campaign, and he’s no less raw about it a year later, using strong terms to describe Karl Rove’s speech to the Republican National Committee in a front-page story Monday. But what about Howard Dean calling Rove "unpatriotic"?

“With a campaign of high-profile national security events set for the next three days, following Karl Rove's blistering speech to Republicans on Friday, the White House has effectively declared that it views its controversial secret surveillance program not as a political liability but as an asset, a way to attack Democrats and re-establish President Bush's standing after a difficult year.”

Never mind that Bush is the one being “attacked” by Democrats over the NSA spying program.

Nagourney paints the Bushies as simplistic panderers to people’s fears:

"Viewed from the perspective of the battles over the Homeland Security Act or the USA Patriot Act, this White House holds a tactical edge; it has repeatedly proved highly effective in defining complicated debates against the Democratic Party. Applying the campaign lessons of simplicity and repetition, Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove, his chief political adviser, have systematically presented arguments in accessible if sometimes exaggerated terms, and they have regularly returned to the theme of terrorism since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Mr. Rove's speech on Friday to the Republican National Committee was a classic example.”

Nagourney had his first take on Rove’s speech in Saturday’s edition, with the ever-sensitive Nagourney terming it a “searing attack” and “lacerating attack.”

“Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, gave nervous Republicans here a preview on Friday of the party's strategy to maintain its dominance in the fall elections, offering a searing attack on Democrats for their positions on terrorism, the administration's eavesdropping program and President Bush's effort to shape the federal judiciary. Mr. Rove called for civility in politics in his speech to the Republican National Committee, and then for 26 minutes offered a lacerating attack on Democrats that other Republicans said was a road map for how the party would deal with a tough electoral environment as it battled to retain control of both houses of Congress.”

But notice that Nagourney doesn’t find Howard Dean either searing or lacerating, even though Dean actually calls Rove “unpatriotic”:

“Howard Dean, the national Democratic leader, responded to Mr. Rove's attacks by noting the investigation into his activities and challenging Mr. Bush's decision to keep him in the White House, even as the investigation proceeds. ‘Rove's political standing gets him an invitation to address Republicans in Washington, D.C., today,’ Mr. Dean said, ‘but it doesn't give him the credibility to question Democrats' commitment to national security. The truth is, Karl Rove breached our national security for partisan gain, and that is both unpatriotic and wrong.’”

Nagourney whistles right by that inflammatory remark, underscoring a huge double standard on the part of the paper. While the Times is quite sensitive to false accusations that Republicans go around questioning the patriotism of Democrats, when a Democrat actually calls an influential Republican “unpatriotic,” Nagourney doesn’t even stop for breath.

Nagourney also ignores that Dean was responding to part of Rove’s speech talking about Democrats. As reported by the Washington Post, Rove explained: “That doesn't make [Democrats] unpatriotic -- not at all. But it does make them wrong -- deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong."

For more New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.

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