White House v. the NYT

A wrap-up of yesterday’s back and forth and this morning’s coverage:

  • The story: “Bush Lawyers Discussed Fate of C.I.A. Tapes

  • The reaction: “In Rare Move, White House Demands ‘Correction’ of ‘NYT’ Deck

  • The White House statement:

      The New York Times today implies that the White House has been misleading in publicly acknowledging or discussing details related to the CIA’s decision to destroy interrogation tapes.

      The sub-headline of the story inaccurately says that the “White House Role Was Wider Than It Said”, and the story states that “…the involvement of White House officials in the discussions before the destruction of the tapes…was more extensive than Bush administration officials have acknowledged.”

      Under direction from the White House General Counsel while the Department of Justice and the CIA Inspector General conduct a preliminary inquiry, we have not publicly commented on facts relating to this issue, except to note President Bush’s immediate reaction upon being briefed on the matter. Furthermore, we have not described – neither to highlight, nor to minimize — the role or deliberations of White House officials in this matter.

      The New York Times’ inference that there is an effort to mislead in this matter is pernicious and troubling, and we are formally requesting that NYT correct the sub-headline of this story.

      It will not be surprising that this matter will be reported with a reliance on un-named sources and individuals lacking a full availability of the facts — and, as the New York Times story itself acknowledges, some of these sources will have wildly conflicting accounts of the facts. We will instead focus our efforts on supporting the preliminary inquiry underway, where facts can be gathered without bias or influence and later disseminated in an appropriate fashion.

      We will continue to decline to comment on this issue, and in response to misleading press reports.

  • The New Republic’s analysis: “Dana Perino’s Strange NYT Response“. And Wonkette’s: “Shocker: White House pissed at NYT.”

  • The result: “NY Times changes CIA headline for WH

  • Today’s correction:

      The subheading with a front-page headline on Wednesday for an article about discussions between four top White House lawyers and the Central Intelligence Agency over whether to destroy videotapes showing secret interrogations of members of Al Qaeda referred imprecisely to the White House’s position thus far on the matter. While Bush administration officials have acknowledged some discussions leading up to the destruction of the tapes in November 2005, as the article noted, the White House itself has not officially said anything on the subject, so its role was not “wider than it said.”