He Said What?

This morning, President Bush made a beaut of a verbal gaffe. Speaking at the signing of a defense appropriations act, he said the following:

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

After CNN ran the clip of this portion of Bush’s remarks, the network cut to a deadpan Jill Doherty, who didn’t bother to react to, or even mention, the president’s verbal faux pas. (Instead, she seamlessly transitioned to a report on where the campaign was headed next.)

The segment left us scratching our heads for a variety of reasons. (Bush appeared to be reading his comments, after all.) But, as media critics, we were left to ponder: Why on earth did CNN play this particular clip? If they wanted to bring attention to the president’s blunder, they should have acknowledged it, instead of treating the words as just another sound bite. And if they just wanted to show a portion of the president’s speech, surely they could have found a section in which the president doesn’t assert that he doesn’t ever “stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people.”

We’re often told that folks in the news business grow weary of candidate’s speeches, and tune out more often then they’d like to admit. So maybe CNN simply didn’t notice the gaffe, and some producer just queued up the tape, oblivious to the president’s accidental declaration of war on his own people. But, naifs that we are, we would have thought that someone at the network was paying a little bit more attention than that.

Brian Montopoli

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Brian Montopoli is a writer at CJR Daily.