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Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Whitlock Misrepresents Cuomo, Ignores Criticism of Gerth-Van Natta Book
Topic: Media Research Center

The headline on a June 4 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock on a TV appearance by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta, authors of a new Hillary-bashing book (repeated as a June 5 MRC CyberAlert item) reads, "ABC's Cuomo Derides Anti-Hillary Book as an 'Ambien Substitute' and a 'Sleeper.' " Whitlock wrote:

On Monday's Good Morning America, ABC co-anchor Chris Cuomo acted as lawyer for the defense when he interviewed the co-authors of a new book that contains critical revelations about 2008 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Cuomo grilled Don Van Natta and Jeff Gerth, the New York Times investigative journalists behind "Her Way," asking if their book was a "sleeper" and an "Ambien substitute."

But Whitlock falsely portrayed what Cuomo said, as is made clear in the transcript Whitlock himself quoted:

CUOMO: The [Clinton] campaign said it is an Ambien substitute. They say the book is just a rehash. How do you respond to that, that your book is a sleeper? It's all been done before. You only needed a library card to report this out. Your response?

"Ambien substitute" and "sleeper" were not Cuomo's opinions of the book, as Whitlock claimed; Cuomo was merely repeating the Clinton campaign's characterization of the book and asking Gerth and Van Natta to react to it.

We've seen this sort of misrepresentation by the MRC before, as we noted when it claimed that Katie Couric called Ronald Reagan an "airhead" when, in fact, she was merely repeating what others had been saying about the conclusions of a newly released Reagan biography.

Whitlock also falsely attributed the "library card" comment to Cuomo in order to launch another attack on him:

How insulting is it for Cuomo, who was parroting Clinton talking points and taking his information off of cue cards, to claim that these Pulitzer Prize winning journalists simply needed "a library card" for their book on the New York politician?

Whitlock went on to assert without evidence that Cuomo "didn't appear comfortable even discussing a book critical of Senator Clinton" and that Cuomo "seemed hesitant to discuss Gerth and Van Natta's claim that Hillary Clinton made a secret political pact when she married Bill Clinton."

Whitlock is too busy defending Gerth and Van Natta as "Pulitzer Prize winning journalists" to mention that the "secret political pact" claim rests on shaky factual ground. Nor does Whitlock note Gerth's history of dubious reporting during the Clinton administration and for the stories on U.S. military information allegedly shared with the Chinese -- for which Gerth won that Pulitzer -- in which Gerth falsely implicated scientist Wen Ho Lee.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:57 PM EDT

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