Ben Domenech is the new "Red America" blogger at WashingtonPost.com. He was apparently hired to balance the allegedly liberal slant of Dan Froomkin.
Blogger Ben Domenech claims to have proof that President Bush said he would run deficits in times of war during a debate with other candidates for the Republican nomination, but it's not true -- and even if it was, it doesn't negate the "trifecta" lie Bush has been pushing. Blogger Bill Quick highlights Bush telling Paula Zahn he might run a deficit during a recession, but again it's not close to sufficient.
First, Domenech. Here's his key quotation:"If I ever commit troops, I'm going to do so with one thing in mind, and that's to win," Bush said."And spend what it takes? Even if it means deficits?" asked the moderator, NBC's Tim Russert."Absolutely," Bush replied, "if we go to war." (AP, from Boston Globe)
But if you read the full transcript of the debate, you'll see that Russert never asks "Even if it means deficits?" (Jason McCullough beat me to this point.) If you want verification, watch the C-SPAN video or read the Boston Globe account. This question is absolutely fictitious. There is no match for Bush AND Russert AND "even if it means deficits" in the entire Nexis database, and I can't find the AP article in question in a Westlaw search for Bush AND "even if it means deficits" either (though Domenech claims it came from Westlaw)...
Update 6/20 3:40 PM EST: Domenech is pulling back: "I've listened to the online version of the NH debate now, and I don't hear the second part of Russert's question as printed in the AP article. Considering that most accounts of the debate don't include this part of the question either, I'm close to believing that the AP article I have is inaccurate. I've been taken in by faulty reporting before, but never by the AP. Either way, I'll post the article tonight."
Update 6/24 11:09 PM EST: Domenech hasn't produced the alleged AP article despite requests from me by email and via comments on his site. You can read me debating this issue in the comments on Domenech's original post, or in the comments below Quick's post.
Update 7/2 3:09 PM EST: ...I've been alerted that Domenech posted the alleged AP article (apparently slightly before the above update). I'’ve found two AP articles that mirror parts of his in Nexis, but the key passage, including the fictitious question from Russert, does not appear in any articles in Nexis or Westlaw. Domenech has failed to respond to requests for a Westlaw search that can be duplicated proving its existence, and has not engaged in a serious effort to respond to many other questions raised by myself and others. Given the criticism he initially leveled at others based on this alleged source, this is irresponsible, especially from someone who writes professionally.
Draw your own conclusions...
Update 3/21 10:15 PM EST: On the larger issue of what Domenech's hiring means, see Josh Marshall:
So, to 'balance' Froomkin, who may be a commentator with liberal tendencies, the Post goes out and gets a high octane Republican political activist who hits the ground running with a tirade of Red State America revanchism and even journalism itself.
That's balance. That's the Post's balance.
Managing perceptions is the death of good journalism, especially manufactured perceptions, and even more those manufactured for the easily cowed.
I'm embarrassed for the Post. Embarrassed by the Post.
Their explanation doesn't cut it. If they want to make a blogger Crossfire with a firebreather on the left and on the right, they should do it. It might even be interesting. But here they've just been played by bullies and played for fools.
Jump! How high?
I can think of more than a few actual journalists at the Post who must feel a bit embarrassed too.