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Still lapdogs: Media figures host Bush's rehabilitation tour

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Headlined to H4 11/15/10

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Numerous media figures have interviewed former President George W. Bush following the November 9 release of his book, Decision Points. Bush and his interviewers used these interviews as an opportunity to rewrite his presidency by promoting false claims and misinformation about Bush's tenure.

CLAIM: Bush falsely claims "everybody," "all of us" thought Saddam had WMDs during interviews with Hannity and Van Susteren.

CLAIM: Bush claims, "We just didn't have any solid record of intelligence that gave us a warning" on the 9-11 attacks.

CLAIM: Bush advances disputed claim that waterboarding "saved lives."

CLAIM: Limbaugh misleadingly suggests Bush "inherited a terrorism crisis" and an "economic crisis" from President Clinton.

CLAIM: Limbaugh and Bush blame "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the whole subprime mortgage mess" on Democrats.

CLAIM: Bush repeats falsehood that tax cuts on the rich help small businesses.

CLAIM: Hannity and Limbaugh allow Bush to claim that he wanted to "change the tone" in Washington by not engaging in "name-calling."

Interviewers encourage falsehoods, fail to challenge Bush's distortions

NBC host Matt Lauer, radio host Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Greta Van Susteren all interviewed Bush in the days following his book release. Each either allowed Bush to rewrite history by making false claims, or made false claims themselves, or both. For instance:

CLAIM: Bush falsely claims "everybody," "all of us" thought Saddam had WMDs during interviews with Hannity and Van Susteren. During the interview that aired November 9, Hannity asked Bush about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq. Bush then claimed that "everybody ... every intelligence service, everybody in the administration" believed Saddam Hussein had WMDs. From the Nexis transcript of the interview:

HANNITY: You talked a little about WMD. When Saddam didn't use WMD on our troops, I was relieved. You talk about the absence of WMD stockpiles. Frustrating for you?

BUSH: Unbelievably frustrating. Of course, it was frustrating. Everybody thought he had WMD, everybody being every intelligence service, everybody in the administration.

HANNITY: A lot of Democrats said it.

BUSH: Yes, a lot of members of Congress.

During the interview with Van Susteren that aired November 12, Bush again said that "all [of] us who studied the intelligence felt [Saddam] had weapons of mass destruction." From the transcript of the interview:

VAN SUSTEREN: After Afghanistan, of course, there was Iraq. And I don't want to beat a dead horse, because you talk about weapons of mass destruction, and throughout your book you say you wish you would have pushed harder.

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Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.
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