Injecting Race into the California Recall - October 2, 2003

Times Watch for October 2, 2003

Injecting Race into the California Recall

Thursday's story by Charlie LeDuff, "Schwarzenegger Lays Out Agenda for First 100 Days," attempts to make racial issues out of two of the Republican's most popular campaign stands. LeDuff writes that Schwarzenegger "received his strongest applause from the mostly white audience on two points that have proven racially sensitive in California, involving Indian casinos and illegal immigrants." Later he writes: "In a sign of how racially divided California has become, Mr. Schwarzenegger received a standing ovation on Wednesday when he said he would not let stand a law recently signed by Mr. Davis that allows illegal immigrants to hold California driver's licenses. 'I will not let California driver's licenses be turned into fraudulent documents,' he said. 'I will give the Legislature one last chance, or I will take it to the people.'"

Davis had previously vetoed a similar bill in October 2002, sensibly arguing that "the tragedy of Sept. 11 made it abundantly clear that the driver's license is more than just a license to drive; it is one of the primary documents we use to identify ourselves." But LeDuff spends not a word on Gov. Davis' cynical, opportunistic and "racially sensitive" reversal a month before the recall vote.

For the rest of Charlie LeDuff on the surging Schwarzenegger campaign, click here.

Gov. Gray Davis | Charlie LeDuff | Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Times' Anti-Choice Movement

Where are the feminist critics of the Times when you really need them?

The premise of Tuesday's Health & Fitness story by Anahad OConnor, States Fail to Meet No-Smoking Goals for Women," seems more than a bit condescending, treating women as passive victims of tobacco, in need of state protection to prevent them from choosing to smoke.

O'Connor's report opens with an argument that state governments aren't doing enough to stop women from smoking: Tobacco-related diseases are still the leading cause of preventable death in women, and most states are not meeting the nation's goals to discourage women from smoking, according to a report released today by the National Women's Law Center and Oregon Health and Science University."

O'Connor continues: "The study follows a major report from the surgeon general in 2001 that called for tougher measures nationwide to keep women from smoking and for tighter limits on tobacco industry advertising and promotion. Whatever happened to the "pro-choice" movement?

For the rest of O'Connor's anti-smoking report, click here.

Feminism | Health | Anahad O'Connor | Smoking | Tobacco

The Times' Rove-ing Reporters

Playing catch-up to the Washington Post's aggressive coverage, Thursday's Times features two stories and an editorial on the Justice Department investigation into who in the administration told columnist Bob Novak the name of a CIA operative, in possible violation of federal law. But the Times seems to have already identified its prime suspect in the "Plame-speaking" case: Bush adviser Karl Rove.

Times reporters Elisabeth Bumiller and Eric Lichtblau put Rove in their sights in a front-page Thursday story that comes with this triple-decker headline: "Attorney General Is Closely Linked To Inquiry Figures-Rove Was A Consultant-Democrats in Congress Charge a Clear Conflict of Interest in Investigation of Leak."

The story opens: "Deep political ties between top White House aides and Attorney General John Ashcroft have put him into a delicate position as the Justice Department begins a full investigation into whether administration officials illegally disclosed the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer."

Yet the actual depth of those ties seems open to interpretation, as the next paragraph indicates: "Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, whose possible role in the case has raised questions, was a paid consultant to three of Mr. Ashcroft's campaigns in Missouri, twice for governor and for United States senator, in the 1980's and 1990's, an associate of Mr. Rove said on Wednesday."

For more Times' speculation on Karl Rove's possible ties to the Joseph Wilson imbroglio, click here.

The Times' Geography Lesson: Niger = Africa

Thursday's Times editorial on the Joseph Wilson/CIA controversy misreads a Wilson opinion piece published by the paper itself less than three months ago. The editorial claims: "Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article for The Times, published on July 6, that said he had investigated Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions at the request of the C.I.A. He wrote that he believed the Bush administration had misrepresented intelligence when it asserted that Mr. Hussein had tried to buy uranium from Niger, in Africa, to foster a nuclear weapons program."

But Wilson didn't say that. This is what Bush actually said in his State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Bush didnt even refer to Niger.

Wilson himself noted in his Times op-ed (contradicting the blanket assertion in Thursday's Times editorial) that Bush could have been referring to another African country besides Niger: "Then, in January, President Bush, citing the British dossier, repeated the charges about Iraqi efforts to buy uranium from Africa. The next day, I reminded a friend at the State Department of my trip and suggested that if the president had been referring to Niger, then his conclusion was not borne out by the facts as I understood them. He replied that perhaps the president was speaking about one of the other three African countries that produce uranium: Gabon, South Africa or Namibia."

Other Times writers have also conflated the African country of Niger with Africa as a whole.

For the rest of the Times editorial on the Joseph Wilson controversy, click here.

Times Deaf to Liberal Wilson Racket

Thursday's story on the Joseph Wilson affair by Richard Stevenson and Eric Lichtblau lays out Wilson's history of campaign donations: "Republicans say Mr. Wilson is a partisan Democrat with ties to the presidential campaign of Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and a desire to drive Mr. Bush from office. Mr. Wilson contributed $2,000 to Mr. Kerry's campaign and has said he might endorse him. Mr. Wilson also contributed to both Mr. Bush and Al Gore in the 2000 election cycle. He has given money in the past to a variety of other candidates from both parties." The reporters then quote RNC chairman Ed Gillespie accusing Wilson of speaking "to a Win Without War rally, one of the most radical anti-Bush groups out there."

But the Times itself has yet to emphasize Wilson's clear liberal tilt, demonstrated in an opinion piece he wrote for the left-wing Nation magazine in February 2003, shortly before the Iraq War: "The neoconservatives with a stranglehold on the foreign policy of the Republican Party, a party that traditionally eschewed foreign military adventures, want to go beyond expanding US global influence to force revolutionary change on the region. American pre-eminence in the Gulf is necessary but not sufficient for the hawks. Nothing short of conquest, occupation and imposition of handpicked leaders on a vanquished population will suffice. Iraq is the linchpin for this broader assault on the region. The new imperialists will not rest until governments that ape our worldview are implanted throughout the region, a breathtakingly ambitious undertaking, smacking of hubris in the extreme."

For more on the Times take on Joseph Wilson, click here.