New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, "fabricating" hypocrite. Her Sunday column about the lack of veracity in the current crop of award-nominated movies, "The Oscar for Best Fabrication," has some interesting revelations on the true history behind the stories of "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Lincoln." But Dowd is the last person to credibly comment on the subject, given her own history (Item #3) of fabricating quotes, in the form of leaving out vital words from her May 14, 2003 column on President Bush's pursuit of the Taliban – a tale broken on Times Watch.
Dowd wrote on Sunday:
I saw “Argo” with Jerry Rafshoon, who was a top aide to President Carter during the Iranian hostage crisis, when six Americans escaped and were given sanctuary for three months by courageous Canadian diplomats.
We were watching a scene where a C.I.A. guy can’t get through to Hamilton Jordan, Carter’s chief of staff, to sign off on plane tickets for the escaping hostages, so he pretends to be calling from the school where Jordan’s kids go.
“Hamilton wasn’t married then and didn’t have any kids,” Jerry whispered, inflaming my pet peeve about filmmakers who make up facts in stories about real people to add “drama,” rather than just writing the real facts better. It makes viewers think that realism is just another style in art, so that no movie, no matter how realistic it looks, is believable.
The affable and talented Ben Affleck has admitted that his film’s climax, with Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers jumping in a jeep, chasing the plane down the runway and shooting at it, was fabricated for excitement.
Hollywood always wants it both ways, of course, but this Oscar season is rife with contenders who bank on the authenticity of their films until it’s challenged, and then fall back on the “Hey, it’s just a movie” defense.
But as Times Watch reported back in May 2003, during the Afghanistan war, Dowd used ellipsis to totally misrepresent a Bush statement to imply he said the Al Qaeda terrorist network is 'not a problem anymore,' changing Bush's meaning to make him look naive about progress in the war on terror.
Dowd wrote in her May 14, 2003 column, "Osama's Offspring," on a speech in Arkansas by President George W. Bush:
Busy chasing off Saddam, the president and vice president had told us that Al Qaeda was spent. "Al Qaeda is on the run," President Bush said last week. "That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. . . . They're not a problem anymore."
But those quotes were taken wildly out of context from a May 5 speech in Arkansas in which Bush actually said (the part Dowd left out is in italics): "Al Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. Right now, about half of all the top Al Qaeda operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem anymore."
A Times spokesman insisted that Dowd's "intention was not to distort the meaning of the quote," and several newspapers who used the distorted quote issued corrections. (Dowd returned to the subject in a later column that included the full quote.) But the nytimes.com version accessed on February 19, 2013 bears no trace of corrections or changes.