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Monday, October 20, 2008
NewsBusters Pretends Obama Comment Wasn't Taken Out of Context
Topic: NewsBusters

An Oct. 19 NewsBusters post by Dave Pierre criticized Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks for writing that Barack Obama's words were "enthusiastically ripped out of context" by the McCain campaign when he remarked in 2007 about the need for more troops on the ground in Afghanistan so that the U.S. military is not "just air-raiding villages and killing civilians." Pierre asserted that "nothing was taken out of context," then linked to a YouTube clip of Obama saying the words. But the clip is only 12-seconds long -- the very definition of taking someone out of context.

Pierre's own quoting of Brooks takes her out of context as well. Pierre cuts off his excerpt of Brooks' column after the words, "

Not exactly eloquent, but Obama's fundamental point is unassailable," hiding from his readers what Brooks wrote next, which put Obama's words in their proper context:

With so many U.S. troops bogged down in Iraq, our troops in Afghanistan are spread dangerously thin. As the Afghan insurgency picks up steam, overwhelmed U.S. ground troops increasingly call in close-air-support bomb attacks. These airstrikes are, in turn, far more deadly for Afghan civilians than U.S. ground attacks, for the simple reason that while a soldier can usually tell the difference between an unarmed child and an insurgent, a bomb dropped from thousands of feet can't. So far this year, at least 395 Afghan civilians have been killed in NATO airstrikes, and the civilian death toll from NATO airstrikes is up by 21% over last year.

In fact, at the time Obama made his statement, the Associated Press reported: "A check of the facts shows that Western forces have been killing civilians at a faster rate than the insurgents have been killing civilians."

So: Obama is right, Brooks is right, and Pierre is not just wrong but dishonest by pretending he's offering the full context of Obama's (and Brooks') words while hiding the full truth. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:34 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, October 20, 2008 1:35 PM EDT

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