Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bush White House Borrows A Trick From Nixon In Altering Transcripts


It's clear that we're dealing with a corrupt administration when the White House can't even be trusted to provide accurate transcripts of its own statements. In altering the words of Press Secretary Scott McClellan, the Bush White House is taking a cue from the Nixon administration, which resorted to the same dirty trick in its embattled final days.

The Web site Think Progress has documented how the Bush White House altered the transcript of McClellan's words from an Oct. 31, 2004 press conference.

From Think Progress:

There is a brewing controversy about what exactly was said at the White House press conference on October 31. Everyone agrees NBC’s David Gregory said this:

Q: Whether there’s a question of legality, we know for a fact that there was involvement. We know that Karl Rove, based on what he and his lawyer have said, did have a conversation about somebody who Patrick Fitzgerald said was a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. We know that Scooter Libby also had conversations.

Both Congressional Quarterly and FNS transcribed McClellan’s answer as "That’s accurate." The White House transcript lists McClellan’s answer as "I don't think that’s accurate."

This episode is likely to trigger a sense of deja vu among those of us who recall a similar controversy that emerged during the Watergate scandal.

In his book, The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon, author Anthony Summers documents how the Nixon White House also altered transcripts, which it released in lieu of the Watergate tapes that were subpoenaed by the Judiciary Committee. When the latter compared the transcribed conversations to several that the panel had already received in audio form, it discovered a number of troubling discrepancies.

One example cited by Summers:

Transcript for March 22, 1973, as released by Nixon:

PRESIDENT: Well, all John Mitchell is arguing then, is that now we use flexibility in order to get off the cover-up line.

Judiciary Committee transcript:

PRESIDENT: But now--what--all that John Mitchell is arguing, then, is that now, we, we use flexibility.
JOHN DEAN: That's correct.
PRESIDENT: In order to get on with the cover-up plan.

Summers notes that the Nixon White House also made other alterations in the transcripts, including the deletion of the now-infamous passage in which Nixon ordered: "I want you all to stonewall it...cover up, or anything else."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nixon was actually a liberal president in many ways, at least by today's standards. He was more liberal than Clinton on many issues of domestic policy, for example. It's indicative of how far the political pendulum has swung to the right over the past 3 decades.