Does Maureen Dowd read her own newspaper?
Today the controversial New York Times columnist writes the following:
W. prefers tactical betes noires to real ones. (Hillary followed his lead by joining conservatives to support a constitutional ban on flag burning.)
But as her own newspaper editorialized on Dec. 7:
Hillary Clinton is co-sponsoring a bill to criminalize the burning of the American flag... It looks to us more like a simple attempt to have it both ways. Clinton says she opposes a constitutional amendment to outlaw flag-burning.
In fact, the Times editorial about Clinton ran on the opposite page from Dowd's own column of Dec. 7. Did she open the newspaper that day? Does she know how to access Nexis?
Clinton's compromise position on flag-burning may be somewhat awkward, but that does not reduce journalists' obligation to get the facts straight. Unfortunately, several other writers have also gotten it wrong. A June 4 Washington Post Magazine article stated that Clinton "recently signed on to a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning, which enraged free speech advocates, flag burners, and the match and kerosene industries" - an error that was later corrected. Mike Littwin of the Rocky Mountain News recently wrote of "the anti-flag-burning amendment, newly endorsed by Hillary Clinton." Finally, the Christian Science Monitor reported that Clinton "is currently experiencing a wildfire revolt on her left flank with activists and left bloggers unhappy at the senator's moderate and even conservative positions on issues such as an anti-flag- burning amendment and the war in Iraq."
Why is this so hard? Nexis includes a number of articles in which columnists and reporters get Clinton's position correct, including the New York Daily News, Cragg Hines of the Houston Chronicle, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the St. Petersburg Times editorial page, and even the hapless Richard Cohen of the Washington Post.
The problem, it seems, is that (a) Hillary's position requires reporters and commentators to actually understand a complicated political/legal question and (b) the idea that she supports the anti-flag burning amendment fits the narrative of her move toward the center. But neither is any excuse.
Update 6/7 12:10 PM: For more, see the Spinsanity archive of articles criticizing Dowd as well as two recent corrections of her work in the New York Times (documented by Ken Waight of Lying in Ponds).