NYT Gives Sheehan a SOTU Platform, Ludicrously Claims Bush Didn't Mention Katrina

February 1st, 2006 12:29 PM

Wednesday's New York Times gives anti-war Bush-hater Cindy Sheehan a platform at Bush’s sixth State of the Union address.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Anne Kornblut file “Antiwar Protester Arrested Before Speech, but Her Presence Looms Large,” accompanied in print by a large photo of Sheehan being escorted out of the House chamber.

“To spotlight his priorities, President Bush invited ordinary people -- a teacher, a physicist, an Afghan politician, the family of a fallen soldier -- to the State of the Union address on Tuesday. But a Democratic congresswoman turned the tables on Mr. Bush by inviting a guest of her own: Cindy Sheehan, the antiwar protester who has dogged Mr. Bush from his Texas ranch to the White House. Ms. Sheehan's presence loomed large in the House chamber, though she was not there. Capitol Police arrested her before the speech began, ejecting her from the gallery after they discovered her wearing an antiwar T-shirt. A police spokeswoman said Ms. Sheehan was charged with unlawful conduct, a misdemeanor.”

Stolberg and Kornblut portray Democratic disrespect during the speech as a victory:

“Although Mr. Bush hit as many notes as he could to rally the chamber -- paying tribute to Coretta Scott King, demanding changes from the newly elected Palestinian leadership and a defiant Iran -- Mr. Bush gave Democrats several openings to get the better of him. And they took them. When he defended the National Security Agency eavesdropping program, several Democratic members audibly groaned. When he scolded Congress for not passing his Social Security program, Democrats leaped to their feet in cheers, drowning the president out for a long stretch.”

Like their Times colleagues, Stolberg and Kornblut tie Republican Party troubles to Bush’s speech: “The president arrived in the Capitol at a chaotic moment for Congressional Republicans, who are absorbed by the fallout from the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and consumed with the outcome of leadership elections scheduled for Thursday.”

David Sanger’s Page One “news analysis” of Bush’s speech paints Bush as newly humbled and turning moderate in response to liberal criticism.

“The Texan who swept onto the national political scene six years ago talking about drilling for new energy supplies and preserving the American way of life vowed on Tuesday night to wean the nation from its reliance on oil. Instead of urging Congress to drill in the Arctic, the president who had waved off the critics who portrayed him and Vice President Dick Cheney as captives of the oil industry asked Congress to finance federal research into alternative fuels and lithium batteries.”

Bush indeed devoted four whole paragraphs of last night’s SOTU to energy independence (today’s lead editorial sniffs the “remarks were woefully insufficient”). But how big a shift is that? After all, Bush has been talking conservation in his State of the Union the last four years. Here’s Bush in his 2005 SOTU: “And my budget provides strong funding for leading-edge technology -- from hydrogen-fueled cars, to clean coal, to renewable sources such as ethanol.”

There’s more on Bush’s new modesty in Wednesday’s lead story by Elisabeth Bumiller and Adam Nagourney, “Bush, Resetting Agenda, Says U.S. Must Cut Reliance On Oil.”

They emphasize: “But Mr. Bush was more tempered and less partisan than a year ago, evidence of his diminished political standing.” Like their colleagues, they try to pin Republican troubles on Bush: “He did so before an audience of dogged Democrats seated across the aisle from nervous Republicans, who find themselves mired in a contentious leadership battle and the influence-peddling investigation in their top ranks on Capitol Hill.”

Bumiller faults Bush for allegedly not discussing Hurricane Katrina:

“The speech was notable for what Mr. Bush did not mention. He offered no new ideas for rebuilding New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, made no mention of his troubled Medicare prescription drug program and offered no proposal to clamp down on lobbying abuses in Congress that have led to the investigation of Jack Abramoff, a formerly powerful lobbyist and a major fund-raiser for Mr. Bush.”

The text box even sniffs that “Lobbying and Hurricane Katrina are not mentioned.”

But while there’s no mention of “Hurricane Katrina” in the transcript, that’s a deeply misleading statement. Here’s Bush near the end talking about the rebuilding of New Orleans:

“A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency -- and stays at it until they're back on their feet. So far the federal government has committed $85 billion to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We're removing debris and repairing highways and rebuilding stronger levees. We're providing business loans and housing assistance. Yet as we meet these immediate needs, we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the storm arrived. In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country.”

How can that possibly be characterized as “Lobbying and Hurricane Katrina are not mentioned”?

For more New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.