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Thursday, June 01, 2006

These People Have No Shame! Bush Senior Staffer Alters Previously Published Article

How small-minded and unethical they get! Editor & Publisher reports that Bush's freshly appointed domestic policy advisor, Karl Zinsmeister, not only posted a profile of himself from a Syracuse, NY newspaper on his American Enterprise Institute magazine's website, but freely admitted to changing the article to make himself look better!

So we have not only copyright infringement but blatant fraud.

The [Washington] Post carried an editorial today suggesting that the White House probably wished it could revise plenty of newspaper articles it did not like. It also coined a word for such actions: "Zinsmeistered."

I went back to the Washington Post, which offers several articles on the incident, and found these examples:

"People in Washington are morally repugnant, cheating, shifty human beings." is softened to "I learned in Washington that there is an 'overclass' in this country stocked with cheating, shifty human beings that's just as morally repugnant as our 'underclass.' "

Leaving aside for a moment the question about whether you want your president's domestic policy advisor to think that the poor are morally repugnant--he altered this quote while leaving the name of the New Times reporter on the article!

Helen Thomas was all over White House press secretary Tony Snow about the content of this quote and what kind of man Zinsmeister must be--but it wasn't reported that she addressed the issue of changing the remarks.

On Iraq...

"To say nothing of whether it was executed well or not, but it's brave and admirable." The altered copy deleted any hint of presidential criticism, saying only, "It's a brave and admirable attempt to improve the world."

Zinsmeister says he did it to increase the accuracy of the quotes and protect the reporter, Justin Park, from embarrassment. But given the very happy thank-you note he sent to Park immediately after the piece ran, this is highly dubious.

I begin to wonder if there is anyone in the high levels of the Bush administration who actually understands ethics. Note to the administration: chutzpah is not a substitute for ethics.


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