Wash Post Teams with Sen. Reid to Distort Bush Remarks

For Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and the Washington Post, teaming up to claim President Bush said something he didn’t say is as easy as one, two, three.

If you doubt that, read the first three paragraphs of this Washington Post story, Democrats Criticize Bush For Saying DeLay's Innocent. Then look at what the President actually said.

Here are the Post's paragraphs:

Democratic leaders sternly criticized President Bush Thursday for saying former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, is innocent of felonious campaign finance abuses, suggesting his comments virtually amounted to jury tampering before DeLay stands trial.

"The president of the United States said a jury does not need to assemble, that Tom DeLay is innocent," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "To have someone of his stature, the president of the United States, prejudge a case is something I've never seen before."

During an interview Wednesday on the Fox News Channel, Bush was asked whether he believed DeLay was innocent of the charges of money laundering and conspiracy that led to his indictment and resignation from the House Republican leadership in September. "Yes, I do," the president replied.

It all sounds pretty bad until you look at what the Fox News Channel’s transcript reveals President Bush actually said about DeLay’s trial and his innocence during an interview with Britt Hume (Scroll about a quarter of the way down to get to remarks cited here):

HUME: You know a thing or two about Texas politics. What is your judgment of the prosecutor in the case, Ronnie Earle?

BUSH: I'm not going to go there, simply because I want, I want this trial to be conducted as fairly as possible. And the more politics that are in it, the less likely it's going to be fair. [bold added]

HUME: Do you just — do you believe he's innocent?

BUSH: Do I? Yes, I do.

You can see that the President never said, as Reid charged, that “a jury does not need to assemble”. He said just the opposite: He wanted a “trial to be conducted as fairly as possible.”

As for the President's "he's innocent" comment, there is in America a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, something The Post often reminded us of during the Clinton administration.

But it's understandable that the Post didn't tell its readers what the President actually said about DeLay's trial or remind them of the presumption of innocence.

If the Post did those things, Reid’s charge and its story would be seen for what they are quicker than you can say, “one, two, three.”