Outsourced to the Horse's Mouth:
The Horse's Mouth: TIMES SHAFTS KERRY. Today's Times front-page piece about Democratic debate over Iraq is quite a piece of work. First it bungles a key fact.... Kerry repeatedly described the war as a mistake.... What really happened was that he "supported" the President's request for the authorization to use force in Iraq if the President deemed it necessary. Then Kerry repeatedly criticized the President's use of that authorization to invade the way he did as a mistake. Is it too much to ask from The Times that they make this not-terribly-complex distinction?
Then the paper indulges in some highly questionable sourcing as it strains mightily to portray Kerry as calculating and political:
Senate Democrats have been loath to express their opinions publicly, determined to emphasize a united front. But interviews suggest a frustration with Mr. Kerry, never popular among the caucus, and still unpopular among many Democrats for failing to defeat a president they considered vulnerable. Privately, some of his Democratic peers complain that he is too focused on the next presidential campaign. (Emphasis added.)
Interviews "suggest" a frustration; his "peers" say he's political, though no "peer" is quoted saying so, even anonymously. Meanwhile, the piece also adds high up in the story that Kerry's position leaves Dems "open to Republican taunts that they are `cutting and running' in Iraq" without letting any Dem rebut that argument until the end of the piece. And of course the story features an obligatory reference to Kerry's "I was for it before I was against it" campaign gaffe.
This is really cheap stuff -- thinly sourced, factually questionable and bordering on snide -- and it's truly surprising that it got past any Times editor.
UPDATE: In their piece on Dem division, The Washington Post does The Times one better, literally reprinting a GOP press release: "GOP leaders took obvious pleasure in the Democrats' disarray, issuing a stream of press releases with headlines such as, `Democrats Divided On The Meaning Of Their Own Amendments.'"
When I tell my children that there was a time when saying you worked for the Washington Post or the New York Times added rather than subtracted from your credibility, they refuse to believe me...