Criticism History Politics The Bush Legacy The Opinionsphere

Dana Perino’s Misleading Spin Regarding Matt Latimer

That’s how the media world works, unfortunately. But since I was there, I will try to do my part to stamp out myths before they gain traction.

[digg-reddit-me]Yesterday, I came across (from multiple sources) a piece in the new edition of GQ by a former Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer – a kind of tell-all purporting to reveal what Bush really thought at the end of his term. (Beware: GQ has designed this piece to maximize page views, so it’s a pain to read, though overall worth it.)

The piece was interesting enough, though one could feel the editing of someone intent of keeping the material fresh and with the intent of enhancing the reputation of the author, so I wouldn’t classify it as inherently trustworthy. Latimer portrayed Bush as an almost comic figure – one who believed he had remade conservatism, who derided the “conservative movement,” who had excellent political instincts, who was willing to buck the crowd, and who governed and authorized statutes he had not quite understood. Overall, Latimer’s portrait represents a positive reappraisal of George W. Bush as a flawed but complex figure.

Dana Perino though will have none of it – and responds to the post with an extremely misleading post at NRO’s The Corner. For example, she makes a big deal of this as undermining Latimer’s account:

And I don’t think [Bush has] ever even said the word ‘keister.’ C’mon.

Yet the passage she’s referring is this one:

‘Wait till her fat keister is sitting at this desk,’ he once said (except he didn’t say ‘keister’).

She also writes:

For example, [Latimer] writes that President Bush didn’t know who Sarah Palin was.”

But in Latimer’s tale, he doesn’t claim this. Rather, he quotes President Bush as joking around after the announcement:

“I’m trying to remember if I’ve met her before. I’m sure I must have.” His eyes twinkled, then he asked, “What is she, the governor of Guam?”

I’m no defender of Matt Latimer – but also not a fan of dishonest spin.

Edit: I’ve emailed Ms. Perino as the obviousness of her misleading statements seems a bit too much to see if she is considering retracting them or has any other response.

Updated: Peter Robinson, also at The Corner also points out the two specific inaccuracies I mentioned. Perino them responded with a quasi-apology and seems to admit that she hadn’t actually read the piece. Her lack of knowledge though that did not stop her from smearing Latimer. But no surprise, she somehow ends up blaming the media coverage, though I would hope any old flack – let alone someone with her soapbox – would take the time to read something before attacking it in print.

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