The estimable Peter Baker of the Washington Post is a very solid reporter, but a story today on Andy Card stepping down, to which he contributed, had the effect of misrepresenting what I said. The problem is in the first line of the paragraph: Some conservatives are glad to see Card go. Quin Hillyer, executive editor of the American Spectator magazine, offered a “friendly good riddance” to the chief of staff. “This White House is justly criticized for its insularity, and this little bit of shake-up may help break up that insularity just a little,” he said. “Without saying anything bad about Andy Card, it’s a good opportunity for the White House to get a new start.”
I never said I was particularly glad to see Card himself go – so the juxtaposition of that line with my quote puts a completely different color to what I said. I said I was glad to see a mini-shake-up in general, and that completely apart from Card’s own performance it makes sense to have a new chief of staff because that’s the person who deals most directly day-to-day with the president, so any change there, even of personality, has the best chance to provide for new ideas/perspectives to reach the president. The “without saying anything bad about Andy Card” part of the quote, as well as the “friendly” part of the “good riddance,” is something I elaborated on at great length, in fact calling Card “by all accounts, a prince of a guy.”
To be quite clear, the words within quotes are absolutely accurate.
I think what probably happened is that the main reporter on this particular piece was Michael Fletcher, while Baker (who did another whole piece on the staff change) was one of two reporters merely listed as having “contributed” to the Fletcher piece. In such circumstances, it is very easy for the main writer or the editor putting the material together to get something slightly out of context because they weren’t the ones who actually did the interview. So this isn’t really a complaint about ANYthing Baker did, but only a clarification for the record, especially for Post readers who might be wondering what I have against Andy Card in particular — the answer to which is, of course, nothing at all.
Meanwhile, I also was quoted, absolutely correctly, in this article in the Houston Chronicle:
Quin Hillyer, executive editor of the American Spectator, a conservative-leaning national magazine, said Bolten’s new role is an opportunity for the administration to address the insularity some conservatives think is hurting Bush’s ability to be an effective leader.
“I want a little more openness to outside thoughts and a little less arrogance – not necessarily meaning Card, but from the White House in general,” Hillyer said. “And I would like somebody to push the president into vetoing bills, especially some spending bills.”
More on all this in a later post here on AmSpecBlog….
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