NYT Misreports Biden-Obama Exchange

Today's New York Times includes the article, "A General Faces Questions From 5 Potential Bosses," an account of yesterday's testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by General David Petraeus and Iraq Ambassador Ryan Crocker. The item noted an exchange between Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), both Democratic presidential candidates:

The senators were allowed only seven minutes each for questions, a limit that Mr. Biden, as a committee chairman, tried to enforce. But he did not try overly hard to cut off Mr. Obama, perhaps because he did not want to be seen in the ungentlemanly act of silencing a political rival. “Why don’t you try to summarize quickly what you said, O.K.?” Mr. Biden genially asked him as his time ran out.

A review of the C-SPAN video of the incident shows that isn't what happened. Senator Obama spent almost all of his alloted time for questions in a monologue. With time running out, he posed one long, winding question that essentially was if there were any set of circumstances or scenarios that would cause the witnesses to recommend immediate withdrawal of the troops.

Ambassador Crocker replied to Senator Obama by gently mentioning he'd already outlined those in response to a similar question posed by Senator John Sununu (R-NH). "Can you repeat those?," asked Senator Obama. That's when Chairman Biden asked Ambassador Crocker, not Senator Obama, to summarize quickly.

If Mr. Obama isn't careful, he may develop a reputation similar to that of the late Senator Joseph Montoya (D-NM), who served on the 1973 Watergate committee. Time Magazine’s Walter Shapiro noted the senator provided comic relief during the hearings by dutifully reciting the questions staffers had given him, even if other senators had already asked the same questions.

Not that much of the mainstream media would want readers to arrive at such a conclusion. To many journalists, Barack Obama is intellectual, thoughtful, uncommonly bright, and shrewd. And they're doing their best to make us believe that.

Then again, perhaps Elisabeth Bumiller, who reported this story for the New York Times, wasn't paying any more attention to the proceedings than Mr. Obama was.

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