An AP story on Monday quoted Rudy Giuliani as saying:
“This is the world we live in. It’s not this happy, romantic-like world where we’ll negotiate with this one, or we’ll negotiate with that one and there will be no preconditions, and we’ll invite (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad to the White House, we’ll invite Osama (bin Laden) to the White House,” Giuliani said.
“Hillary and Obama are kind of debating whether to invite them to the inauguration or the inaugural ball,” he added.
The quote caused a stir among anti-Rudy bloggers, with TPM running with it and Andrew Sullivan writing, “This is literally insane. If he is starting with this kind of unhinged claim, where will he end up?” Keith Olbermann fumed, “A year before the election and Rudy Giuliani is already publicly contending the Democrats are willing to invite Osama bin Laden to the White House to negotiate. Sure they are, buster.”
The only problem is, the quote wasn’t accurate.
While watching this video of the Olbermann segment portraying Giuliani as “Bush on steroids,” I noticed that Giuliani (around the 1 minute mark) did not say Osama, but Assad. As in, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, one of the many leaders of hostile regimes that leading Democrats have said they would negotiate with without preconditions. This is consistent with a point Giuliani made at the Republican Jewish Coalition earlier this month:
This is the great fallacy in this now very strong Democratic desire to negotiate, negotiate, negotiate and negotiate. You’ve got to know with whom to negotiate and with whom you should not negotiate. When Barack Obama, a couple of months ago, said that he would invite Ahmadinejad, Assad, Castro and Chavez – did I miss somebody – to Washington in the first year that he’s in office to meet with them, without preconditions, when he was condemned by Hillary Clinton, who now has joined his position…
Now, it’s perfectly accurate for Giuliani to hit Obama for wanting to invite Ahmadinejad and Assad to Washington, as Obama said he was willing to do here. Clinton later joined him, at least on Iran, here. If you want to argue that Giuliani went overboard by joking that the Democrats “are kind of debating whether to invite them to the inauguration or the inaugural ball,” that’s one thing. But clearly what sensationalized this entire story is the idea that Giuliani was saying that Democrats want to invite Osama bin Laden to the White House. That’s a claim that Giuliani clearly did not make, and the AP, as well as bloggers who picked up the story, and Olbermann, should correct the error.
UPDATE: Sullivan and the AP have issued corrections.
UPDATE II: Olbermann corrects. See more here and here.