AP Headlines Bush Slip Of The Tongue: Saddam the "Butcherer"

January 19th, 2006 12:57 AM
The President met at the White House today with Iraqi victims of the regime of Saddam Hussein. After spending an hour or so with the victims, and families of victims, he allowed the press in for a couple of minutes. The AP decided that the most worthy piece of information on the day, the thing that belonged in the headline, was the fact that the President either mispronounced or stumbled on the word 'butcher.' They highlighted that fact in their headline, Bush Meets Victims of 'Butcherer' Saddam.
"One of the interesting moments will come here this year when Saddam Hussein's trial is brought forth for the world to see, to see the butcherer, the person who brutalized many people or ordered the brutality of many people here at this table, get his due justice under rule of law," the president told reporters brought in for two minutes at the end of the meeting.
I don't think anyone would argue that President Bush is the most articulate man to ever hold the office. But this is just nonsense. Anyone who speaks in public with any regularity makes gaffes. It is impossible not to. Republicans have theirs highlighted and ridiculed, because they indicate lack of intelligence, while Democrats have theirs ignored, because they represent simple mistakes that anyone might make. At least in the template worldview of the mainstream press.

And there's more bias in the piece. As is usual with the AP. I wrote the other day about the AP's propensity to drag negative stuff into stories that might otherwise reflect well on the Bush administration. Down at the bottom of the piece, they close with the following:

The White House denied that the meeting was meant to deflect criticism of the administration in an annual report from Human Rights Watch issued Wednesday.

The report said the Bush administration has a deliberate strategy of abusing terror suspects during interrogations. The White House accused the organization of having a political agenda and ignoring the fact that the United States has liberated millions from tyranny.

The White House "denied" and "accused," loaded words with criminal connotations. The Human Rights Watch "said." When you read that passage, the implication is clear. The White House timed the meeting for the report, and then denied it. The trustworthy human rights group said that we're doing bad things, and the White House, in an ad hominem attack, accused them of having a political agenda. The reporter, Nedra Pickler, could easily have said that Human Rights Watch "accused" the United States and the White House "said" or "stated" or "averred" or "noted" or "observed" or "replied" or "responded" that the report seemed to be based on a political agenda. (As if that's somehow shocking - that a political group would have a political agenda.) And it would read differently.

But she didn't, and it doesn't...

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