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Monday, September 01, 2003

Insight Magazine offers interview with Dick Morris

Clinton suffered from paralysis by analysis
Some excerpts:
Q: You also address the subject of how the media treat Bush and how they treat Clinton by saying that Clinton is brilliant and Bush is stupid. From where does that come?

A: Bill Clinton spent a lot of time telling America how bright he was. That was a big part of his image-building. Now it happens to be completely true that Bill Clinton is the brightest single human being I've met in my life. He's the only person I've ever spent time with where I have to race hard to catch up with his thinking. But there are many different kinds of intellect, and I'm not sure that Clinton's is always the best one to have.

I have to say this about President Bush. I've been in the White House and I've seen how it works. The media are under the impression that the White House is run by the staff. The fact of the matter is that the White House is run by the president, and the decisionmaking process there is such that the president rolls over in bed, thinks about it and comes up with a conclusion by morning.

It's not the West Wing, it's the East Wing. And it's not a daytime occupation, it's a nighttime occupation where he thinks about stuff. And you could not possibly have the level of sophistication and brilliant politics that goes on in the Bush administration without having a brilliant president. You couldn't possibly have that.

I believe the key to understanding the difference between the way Bill Clinton would have dealt with 9/11 and the way Bush dealt with 9/11 is that Clinton suffered from paralysis by analysis. To a certain extent Clinton saw everything in relativistic terms, where there is no black and white about it, whereas the Bush judgments about good and evil are fairly simplistic - and in this case fairly accurate.

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Q: You spend 50 pages talking about the intentional failings of the New York Times, yet you don't advise readers to vote with their wallets.

A: You can't not read the New York Times. It's too influential, too important, and it devotes too much to in-depth coverage. So you have to read it. Just like you have to read a bunch of other sources. In my opinion, every day, a well-read person in the United States who follows politics has to read the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Washington Times (mainly because there is no other organ that presents the Republican point of view), the Wall Street Journal, and then at least look at various other articles in the USA Today, the New York Post, the Los Angeles Times and a bunch of other organs.

Q: How much responsibility do the writers of the New York Times bear personally for what appears under their names? How involved do you think they were in planting the bias in their articles that you cite?

A: I can only relate to the final product, but I believe that the way the paper was run under Howell Raines, the editors said, "We want an article of roughly this length, on roughly this page, that says this. Now go find it for me."

Whenever you'd talk to a New York Times reporter there would always be a supposition to the story, and they eventually would trot out the supposition and get you to comment on it. If you affirmed it, you'd be in the article, and if you disagreed you wouldn't be. Instead of just saying, "Tell me what the facts are about this situation," the bias, the lean, the journalistic political purpose to the story was predetermined. And it's a damn shame. The New York Times assumed the role of being the unbiased and detailed source for national and international news and then just basically gave it up.
Read it all.