Peter's Podesta Press Release: Hassling Team Bush Over The Anthem in Spanish

When Washington Post reporters try to deny they work for a liberal newspaper, you can also cite stories like Peter Baker's Wednesday story on Bush "inconsistency" over a Spanish version (or blurry rewrite) of the National Anthem. You might call it the Span-them. Baker doesn't see controversy in the Spanish singers changing all the lyrics around, or wondering whether illegal immigrants are insulting the vast English-speaking majority. No, the controversy is all from the viewpoint (and the research) of the "Center for American Progress," a Clintonoid think tank/oppo project.

Baker claimed "all sides are scrutinizing the words and records of the president and other politicians for signs of inconsistency," but he was much more interested in the liberal side.

The headline is "Administration Is Singing More Than One Tune on Spanish Version of Anthem." This is true enough: Condi Rice's dodging on CBS's "Face the Nation" did not match President Bush's insistence that perhaps the Anthem ought to be sung in English. But Baker ignores that this is a press-pushed controversy, and that Bush's and Rice's remarks were both drummed out of them by reporters. (Remember Baker hyped Bush's answer on Saturday, as he skipped around strong economic growth numbers.) Neither gave what one would call a passionate answer. But why target the administration and not the protesters? Because the Post always targets the administration and not the protesters.

And there seems little evidence that the matter had concerned Bush before. The Center for American Progress, a liberal group run by Clinton chief of staff John D. Podesta, posted on its blog a reference to Bush singing the anthem in Spanish. In his book, "American Dynasty," Kevin Phillips wrote that Bush "would drop in at Hispanic festivals and parties, sometimes joining in singing 'The Star-Spangled Banner' in Spanish, sometimes partying with a 'Viva Bush' mariachi band flown in from Texas."

White House spokesmen and former campaign operatives said they could not recall whether that happened, though given the level of Bush's Spanish proficiency, they seemed dubious.

"Honestly, I don't remember him ever singing the national anthem in Spanish," said Leonard Rodriguez, who was national director of Hispanic Coalition for Bush/Cheney 2000. "I can't see any of his advisers recommending it." But he added: "They may have played it. That's certainly in the realm of possibility." And Rodriguez said he does not recall Bush ever objecting to it.

The Center for American Progress also cited a news report that the anthem was performed in Spanish by singer Jon Secada at a 2001 inauguration event, but Bush aides and most news accounts said he actually sang a Spanish version of "America the Beautiful."

Secada later performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the White House, in May 2001, but in English, according to the White House.

Do we have any doubt that when John Podesta was Clinton's Chief of Staff aide in the White House from 1998 through 2001, that the Washington Post wouldn't be pestering them over whether Jon Secada (or Julio Iglesias, or whoever) sang the National Anthem in Spanish at the White House? For his part, in that era Peter Baker was hailing Hillary Clinton as "queen of the world."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis