Still Gunning for "Just Plain Wrong" Rudy

Still gunning for Giuliani: After long pieces tearing apart his friendship with Fox News President Roger Ailes, an unsympathetic look at Rudy's relations with liberal black activists (spun by the Times to suggest Giuliani made racially charged appeals) and even his leadership role after 9-11, Friday's front-page story by Michael Cooper makes another lunge at Giuliani's alleged problem with inaccuracies on the stump-"Citing Statistics, Giuliani Misses Time and Again."

"In almost every appearance as he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, Rudolph W. Giuliani cites a fusillade of statistics and facts to make his arguments about his successes in running New York City and the merits of his views.

"Discussing his crime-fighting success as mayor, Mr. Giuliani told a television interviewer that New York was 'the only city in America that has reduced crime every single year since 1994.' In New Hampshire this week, he told a public forum that when he became mayor in 1994, New York 'had been averaging like 1,800, 1,900 murders for almost 30 years.' When a recent Republican debate turned to the question of fiscal responsibility, he boasted that 'under me, spending went down by 7 percent.'

"All of these statements are incomplete, exaggerated or just plain wrong. And while, to be sure, all candidates use misleading statistics from time to time, Mr. Giuliani has made statistics a central part of his candidacy as he campaigns on his record."

NBC Nightly News used Cooper's article the night before it ran in the Times, even featuring a soundbite from the Times' reporter in which he repeated the phrase that pays: "...he'll [Giuliani] just get something plain wrong." Has the Times ever stated so bluntly that a Hillary, Obama or Edwards claim or statistic is "just plain wrong"? A New York Times web search suggests the answer is no.

"For instance, another major American city claims to have reduced crime every year since 1994: Chicago. New York averaged 1,514 murders a year during the three decades before Mr. Giuliani took office; it did not record more than 1,800 homicides until 1980. And Mr. Giuliani's own memoir states that spending grew an average of 3.7 percent for most of his tenure; an aide said Mr. Giuliani had meant to say that he had proposed a 7 percent reduction in per capita spending during his time as mayor.

"Facts and figures are often the striking centerpieces of Mr. Giuliani's arguments. He has always had a penchant for statistics - his anticrime strategy as mayor was built around a system known as Compstat that closely tracked crimes to focus law enforcement efforts. On the campaign trail he often wields data, without notes, with prosecutorial zeal to hammer home his points.

"But in recent days, both Mr. Giuliani's Republican rival Mitt Romney and Democrats have accused him of a pattern of misleading figures and have begun to use the issue to try to undercut his credibility.

"An examination of many of his statements by The New York Times, other news organizations and independent groups have turned up a variety of misstatements, virtually all of which cast Mr. Giuliani or his arguments in a better light. 'He's given us a lot of work up until now,' said Brooks Jackson, the director of Annenberg Political Fact Check, which is part of, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania that has corrected statements by candidates in both parties.

"Aides to Mr. Giuliani dismiss questions about his use of statistics as nitpicking, arguing that no one can dispute the big points he makes by using the statistics: that crime dropped significantly during his tenure, say, or that he worked to restrain spending in New York.

"'The mayor likes detail, and uses it frequently on the campaign trail in ways the other candidates don't,' said Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for Mr. Giuliani. 'And at the end of the day, he is making points that are true.'

"Mr. Giuliani is not alone in citing statistics in a questionable way. Last month, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, said that financing for the National Institutes of Health had decreased under President Bush; it has increased. Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, said the national debt had doubled under President Bush; it has not."

"But with Mr. Giuliani running so strongly on his record, statistics have taken on a central role in his campaign."

As documented in "Whitewash," the new book by Media Research Center's L. Brent Bozell and Tim Graham, the Times, along with the rest of the major media, consistently ignored Hillary Clinton's misstatements on Whitewater and the White House Travel Office.