Did a NY Times 'Reporter' Fabricate Bush Quote?

Kerry/Edwards/NYTimes campaign has launched another sleazy attack in an apparent effort to define just how low low really is.

First, the NY Times ran a Bush quote from an event the reporter did not attend, then within hours of the piece running, the Kerry campaign managed to put an ad together and have the press releases done and all the media reporting on it.

New Kerry Ad Exposes Bush’s January Surprise – Social Security Privatization
Just over two weeks before the election, the Kerry-Edwards campaign Sunday released a new ad revealing George Bush’s real agenda – his intention to “come out strong” to privatize Social Security should he be sworn in for a second term.

JOHN KERRY: “I’m John Kerry and I approve this message.”

NARRATOR: “The truth is coming out… George Bush has finally admitted that he intends to privatize Social Security in a second term. ‘I’m going to come out strong after my swearing in,’ Bush said, ‘with…privatizing of Social Security.'”

— Bush at Private Luncheon: “I’m Going to Come Out Strong After My Swearing In With … Privatizing of Social Security.” “‘I’m going to be real positive, while I keep my foot on John Kerry’s throat,’ George W. Bush said last month at a confidential luncheon a block away from the White House with a hundred or so of his most ardent, longtime supporters, the so-called R.N.C. Regents. … ‘I’m going to come out strong after my swearing in,’ Bush said, ‘with fundamental tax reform, tort reform, privatizing of Social Security.'” (Ron Suskind, “Without a Doubt,” New York Times Magazine, 10/17/04)

There’s only one problem. The reporter in question, Ron Suskind, did not attend the event he got the quote from. Further, it was not televised, it was a private event and there were no transcripts available. Yet he reports the quote as fact.

Suskind does not explain how he got the controversial quote so accurate but does say about an earlier quote “According to notes provided to me, and according to several guests at the lunch who agreed to speak…”

So Suskind got “notes provided to him” and that was good enough to run such an important quote. I hope Bill Burkett was not the source. Is this what passes for reporting at the Times today?

The Kerry/Edwards/NYTimes campaign has decided they can’t convince voters with ringing endorsements so they’ll scare old people to death.

For their part, the Bush campaign is denying the quote and some even claimed Suskind made the quote up from whole cloth. In the end, it is of little use, the media is running wild with the story, facts be damned.

–Oh, and who is Ron Suskind that the New York Times is having write a 10 (web) page story on Bush just days before the election? He is the author of “The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House and the Education of Paul O’Neill.””

What do you think the odds are that the NY Times would let John O’Neil write a piece on John Kerry next Sunday?

Update: Jim Kouri is working this story for Wizbang and he has been in contact with Fox News who has questioned the Kerry camp. So far, Kerry is saying “Hey, it was in the NY Times”. (paraphrased of course)

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