Donald J. Trump opposed the war in Iraq: Invented facts are stubborn things.
One week ago, the New York Times recited an invented fact three different times within eight days.
It recited the "fact" at the top of page one. It recited the "fact" on the front page of the Sunday Review and in a Sunday magazine cover story.
The invented fact received extremely big play in the Times. Last Friday night, the invented fact made its way to the prestigious PBS NewsHour, where the nation's brightest voters gather their information.
Judy Woodruff asked Mark Shields to explain how Donald J. Trump won the GOP nomination. Reciting a certain invented fact, the liberal pundit explained:
WOODRUFF (5/6/16): What would you add, Mark? How did he do this?Donald J. Trump opposed the war in Iraq! If you're the kind of brainiac who subscribes to the Times and watches the NewsHour, you've heard that invented fact four times just in the past two weeks.
SHIELDS: Judy, I think we missed the story, I think, in the sense that we never examined the premises that the Republican Party had been organized around, which was an aggressive foreign policy, a muscular defense policy, interventionist, a commitment to smaller government, and open—not open immigration but certainly considerably welcoming immigration policy, and tax cuts.
And Donald Trump just went right by this argument. I mean he basically did. I mean he repealed the Republican interventionist defense foreign policy and, you know, emphasized his own opposition to the war in Iraq, and echoed some of the sentiments that the president himself has. I mean, that our allies have to do more, that they have to contribute more to their own defense and the responsibilities.
This is the way invented facts become well-known to all. This is the way everyone came to know that Al Gore said he invented the Internet, among the three million invented facts which sent George Bush to the White House.
Donald J. Trump opposed the war in Iraq! That claim has been rejected by major fact-checkers a million times by now.
That said, the major stars of the upper-end press don't waste their time with no stinking fact-checks! Judy Woodruff sat and stared as Shields recited the bogus claim.
To watch Shields recite the fact, click here. His statement occurs around 2:40. His analysis goes downhill from there.
Mark Shields way back when: Just for the record, when Judy speaks to Brooks and Shields, viewers are led to believe that Shields is the more liberal pundit.
We say that because we recall an astounding moment from Shields way back when. It involved the execution of Gary Graham, a Texas inmate, back in June 2000.
The scheduled execution had created an awkward moment for Candidate Bush, who was still Governor Bush.
In June 2000, the mother of all bad capital cases had crossed Bush's desk. It concerned the pending execution of Graham, a convicted murderer.
Uh-oh! The court case in which Graham had been convicted had been a Texas classic. There was essentially no evidence convicting Graham of the crime. Meanwhile, he had been “defended” by one of the worst of the sleeping, drunken, “public defenders" for which the Texas system had long been famous.
None of that was Bush's fault, but now this case had crossed his desk, and the politics of the matter was clear. Result? Shortly before Graham’s execution, Bush held a press avail, at which he said he was sure that Graham was guilty. The press corps didn’t ask Bush how he could possibly know that.
How did The NewsHour treat this case—a case which had received world-wide attention? One day after Graham’s execution, Jim Lehrer asked Mark Shields to state his view of the matter.
Shields praised Bush for the way he had acted. Believe it or not, this is what the liberal columnist actually said:
LEHRER (6/23/00): Okay. Now on to other matters. Governor Bush, the [Graham] capital punishment issue—is that going to dog him from now on?According to Shields, Bush’s post-execution press event “was probably the finest moment of his campaign.”
SHIELDS: Well, Jim, this is a perfect example. It’s an important issue, don't get me wrong. But a perfect example and sort of the quiet time of a campaign, when folks who have a cause—and the cause obviously being the abolition of capital punishment, a growing cause in the country—grab an opportunity to make this into a media event, which was done in Texas, put it on the spotlight, put him on the spotlight. That was intended. But I think the cause is to get this as a full-fledged debate. I think they did.
I thought, as somebody who has mentioned on this broadcast that George W. Bush—the doubts voters have about him is that he fills the chair, whether he’s big enough, whether he really has the heft to be president. I thought this was probably the finest moment of his campaign as he explained his position. He did it as, outside of a press conference in a suit and tie, with appropriately serious words and manner. And I thought ironically that it worked for him politically without being overly analytical.
Bush had been on the trail for a year. What had made his performance so impressive?
He had worn a suit and tie, Shields said. Also, he had displayed appropriately serious words and manner!
Bush had also failed to say how he knew Graham was guilty. (In part, he failed to say because the “press corps” never asked him, neither then nor later.) But so what? Wearing a suit was enough for Shields. Also, Candidate Bush had told no jokes.
That was a remarkable moment. Needless to say, Paul Gigot agreed:
LEHRER (continuing directly): Paul?For more detail, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/6/02.
GIGOT: As long as he had a sober demeanor, as long as he made sure the procedures were properly followed, as long as he could tell everybody that “I’m making sure that all of the legal loops are followed,” the bigger risk was not doing it—because then it would have looked as if he were backing down under a campaign of pressure. And there was an awful lot of media attention on this. But by basically saying—it sounded like Mark said, like a grown-up. Following through, he looks more like a leader.
That was a remarkable moment during a history-changing campaign. Sixteen years later, Shields let NewsHour viewers know that Donald J. Trump opposed the war in Iraq. "Judy, I think we missed the story," he non-ironically said.
Judy Woodruff sat and stared as Shields performed his recitation. This is the way the game is played on the highest levels. Much like Woodruff, we the liberals rend to sit and stare.