Quote of the Day: Karl Rove's Dishonest Reporting

The conservative strategist mutilates a Bill Clinton quote to make it mean the opposite. His readers deserve better.

Here's a little trade secret: the columnists in major newspapers usually have partisan agendas, and they sometimes are willing to shade the facts to favor them. But even by those standards, an op-ed by Karl Rove in today's Wall Street Journal beggars belief. The former Bush aide is attacking The Road We've Traveled, the 17-minute docu-advertisement Davis Guggenheim made for President Obama's reelection campaign. One of the centerpieces of the video, as one would expect, is the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Here's Rove on why that's not a BFD, as Joe Biden might put it:

As for the killing of Osama bin Laden, Mr. Obama did what virtually any commander in chief would have done in the same situation. Even President Bill Clinton says in the film "that's the call I would have made." For this to be portrayed as the epic achievement of the first term tells you how bare the White House cupboards are. [emphasis added]

Here's the problem: that's the opposite of what Clinton actually said. The full quote says something quite different (you can watch in in the clip above if you like):

He took the harder and the more honorable path. When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, I hope that's the call I would have made.

The difference is pretty stark, and it's hard to imagine a charitable reading in which Rove simply misunderstood the quote. Readers of America's leading business newspaper and conservative editorial page deserve better.

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David A. Graham is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Politics Channel. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.

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