Here's what I wrote:
[New York Times reporter David] Stout also fails to directly contradict Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who mischaracterized President Bush's remarks. In the sixth paragraph of the article, he quotes her statement that "On the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, President Bush continued to try to justify the invasion of Iraq by drawing nonexistent links to the 9/11 attacks." But Stout waits until the very last paragraph of the article to contradict her claim:
Democrats have long accused Mr. Bush and his top aides of disingenuously implying a link between the Iraq of Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks. But on Monday night, Mr. Bush said, "I am often asked why we are in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat."
I've written extensively about how administration officials have linked Iraq to 9/11. But last night was one of the very rare instances in which Bush disavowed a direct connection. Pelosi's statement is misleading at best, and Stout should have called her on it.
Foser attacks me in his column, saying I "missed the forest for the trees":
Speaking of which, Bush continues to try to con the country into thinking Iraq did have something to do with 9-11 -- and continues to benefit from the way the media cover those efforts.
Writing for the American Prospect's "The Horse's Mouth" weblog, Brendan Nyhan claimed that the criticism of Bush by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) for trying "to justify the invasion of Iraq by drawing nonexistent links to the 9/11 attacks" was misleading. Nyhan wrote: "I've written extensively about how administration officials have linked Iraq to 9/11. But last night was one of the very rare instances in which Bush disavowed a direct connection. Pelosi's statement is misleading at best, and [New York Times reporter David] Stout should have called her on it."
Unfortunately, Nyhan missed the forest for the trees. Bush may have "disavowed a direct connection" between Iraq and 9-11, but in talking extensively about Iraq during what was billed as a solemn commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, Bush clearly gave viewers the impression that Iraq had something to do with the attacks.
This is, to anybody who has been paying attention, easily recognizable as a tactic frequently used by Bush and his backers: They don't explicitly say "Iraq was behind 9-11" -- in fact, they take great pains to note that they aren't saying it. But in repeatedly discussing one in the context of the other, Bush and his backers create an impression that Iraq and the 9-11 attacks are linked, even as they insist that they are not doing so. And reporters let them get away with it; they even (unwittingly, we presume) help out.
It's annoying to be lectured about a tactic that is "easily recognizable" to "anybody who has been paying attention" -- we wrote about Bush's efforts to suggest a link between Iraq and 9/11 months before Media Matters was even founded, and we devote substantial attention to it in All the President's Spin.
In addition, I don't know how a reasonable person can read the speech and conclude that "Bush clearly gave viewers the impression that Iraq had something to do with the attacks." The first time the word Iraq appears in the speech Bush immediately denies a link: "I'm often asked why we're in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat." After such an explicit denial, it's perfectly acceptable for Bush to discuss the war in Iraq on the anniversary of Sept. 11th (or any other day).
Critics of Bush's effort to connect the war with 9/11 should be declaring victory, but instead Media Matters wants to preclude Bush from ever discussing the two together in any way again. They're wrong.