In an appearance on CNN Saturday night, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz still insisted that the Washington Examiner “deliberately” misquoted her comments claiming that Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren stated that Republicans were “dangerous for Israel,” even after I released the audio.
She also made another erroneous statement about my reporting.
“If you look at what the Examiner, which is a conservative blog site, so it’s not surprising that they would deliberately misquote me, and I’ll reiterate that they did deliberately misquote me,” Wasserman Schultz said in appearance on CNN Saturday night. “First, they took only the first line of what I said and then they cut it off.” Then, she claimed, “what they did was they reported that I said that Republican policies were dangerous for Israel and actually that’s what Ambassador Oren commented on.”
The distinction she is trying to make is between attacking Republican policies on Israel and criticizing them for attacking President Obama’s record on Israel in a way that she argues turns Israel into a “political football” within the United States, thus undermining its security.
Here’s the problem. You can go back and read my initial report on the subject. Read it twice if you need to. What you’ll notice is that, contrary to what Wasserman Schultz claimed on CNN, I never used the word “policies” either in its plural or singular form in the entire post.
Oren himself introduced the word “policies” when he responded to my report with the statement: “I categorically deny that I ever characterized Republican policies as harmful to Israel. Bipartisan support is a paramount national interest for Israel, and we have great friends on both sides of the aisle.”
So, if Wasserman Schultz has a beef with anybody on that point, it’s with Oren himself. But of course, it’s easier to attack a conservative journalist than the Israeli ambassador.
As to her assertion that the Examiner “took only the first line of what I said and then they cut it off,” here’s how I actually reported her comment:
As she was wrapping up her remarks, she claimed that, “We know, and I’ve heard no less than Ambassador Michael Oren say this, that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel.”
The Washington Examiner could find no such public reference by Oren accusing Republicans of being “dangerous” to Israel. The Israeli embassy would not respond to a request for comment. (Update: The Israeli embassy has responded.)
Wasserman Schultz went on to elaborate that Republicans were “undermining Israel’s security by suggesting that the United States and Israel don’t have anything other than a unique and close and special relationship. It undermines Israel’s security to its neighbors in the Arab world and to its enemies. And we need to make sure that the fact that there has never been and will never be daylight between the two parties or the support for Israel that we have in the United States, that that is conveyed to Jewish Americans across this country. That’s our responsibility. It’s the responsibility we’re asking all of you to take on.”
So, I did actually provide the full context of her quote. The paragraph beginning “Wasserman Schultz went on to elaborate that…” and ending with a long quote from her is explicitly intended to provide full context. All I did beyond that was interject, after her reference to Oren, that I couldn’t find a record of him making the comment she attributed to him and that I had reached out to the Israeli embassy for comment.
Asked by CNN anchor Don Lemon if she had any regrets about this episode, Wasserman Schultz said she did not. “I regret that the Examiner has repeatedly taken what I said out of context,” she added. “If they had printed the entire quote, and if they had actually told ambassador Oren what I actually said, I think his response would have been different.”
But when I posted audio of her comments, I actually included the 28 seconds leading up to her Oren quote and the 38 seconds after it. I did so to purposely bend over backwards to provide even more context to her quote than was even needed to show I transcribed her accurately in my initial report.
For what it’s worth, it isn’t just the conservative media that is saying I quoted her accurately. The Washington Post looked at her initial accusation of a misquote and concluded: “Klein’s quote was exactly accurate, meaning Wasserman Schultz falsely accused the Examiner of misquoting her. The DNC chair earns Four Pinocchios.” The fact checkers at PolitiFact gave her their “pants on fire” rating.
What’s odd about this whole episode is that Wasserman Schultz could have put this issue largely to rest initially by simply clarifying her point and saying that her statement was misunderstood. Instead, she keeps digging in – claiming that I reported things that I didn’t and accusing me of misquoting her when I went out of my way to provide full context of her remarks.