Liberal NYT columnist says ‘desperate’ Biden camp pressured her to change transcription of president’s gaffe

Jul 9, 2024 | Latest News | 0 comments

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New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd accused the Biden campaign of pressuring the publication to change the wording in an article transcribing a recent gaffe made by the president.

In her Sunday column, headlined “Joe Biden, in the Goodest Bunker Ever,” Dowd detailed an exchange between herself and the Biden campaign after she quoted the president in her Saturday column telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he would feel content staying in the race, even if Trump won, “As long as I gave it my all and I did the goodest job as I know I can do, that’s what this is about.”

The ABC News transcript of Biden’s Friday interview with Stephanopolous also initially transcribed him as saying “goodest.” However, ABC News then updated the transcript to read, “I did the good as job as I know I can do,” and added an editor’s note that read, “This transcript has been updated for clarity.”

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After using the original Biden quote in her Saturday column, Dowd said she was contacted by T.J. Ducklo, a Biden campaign spokesman, who emailed her to “flag” that ABC had updated its transcript.

He reportedly asked her to “tweak” her column and change the word “goodest” to make her reporting “consistent with the corrected transcript.”

Dowd noted that while “goodest isn’t a word,” she and her researcher had listened to footage of Biden making the comment with “our ears up against the computer, 10 times, and that’s what it sounded like.”

When Dowd said she would discuss the correction request with her editor, Ducklo reportedly responded, “Yeah again, it’s not what I think. It’s what ABC News, who conducted the interview, thinks. I think it would be quite unusual if the Times asserted the president said something that the news organization who conducted the interview says he didn’t say …”

Dowd then asked Ducklo whether ABC had changed the transcript because the Biden team had urged them to do so. The Biden staffer remained defiant.

“ABC News, like any news organization, makes their own independent editorial decisions,” he told Dowd, as described in her column. “Surely you are not suggesting otherwise.” 

In a separate email, he added, “Had another convo on this. ABC News received the tape and confirmed the error to us. Then made the correction.”

His last email left Dowd “more confused than ever,” she wrote.

“What tape? From whom?? Why the runaround??? Given the White House’s egregious coverup about Biden’s sag from aging, the spokesman’s coyness seemed de trop,” she went on.

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“Indeed, the White House had asked ABC News to check whether the president said ‘goodest’ or ‘good as,’ after the White House stenographers, who had recorded the president on ABC News, noticed the discrepancy between their recording and the network’s transcript,” Dowd wrote, summarizing a follow-up story from the Times. 

Her Saturday column was subsequently appended with an editor’s note reading, “Times Opinion revised Mr. Biden’s quote in this column about how he would feel if he loses the election after White House officials and several news organizations contacted ABC on Friday about whether Mr. Biden had said ‘goodest’ or ‘good as.’ ABC’s standards team listened again to the audio and made the change. Mr. Biden’s actual words at that point in the interview were difficult to make out and open to interpretation.”

Dowd continued, “Whatever the president meant, his answer to that question went over like a lead balloon. No one cares if he feels good about himself in a losing cause. It might seem like much ado about goodest. But it’s a harbinger of tense times between a White House in bunker mode and a press corps in ferret mode.”

“Maybe the White House should think about closed captioning,” she wrote.

After Biden’s politically devastating debate performance last month, Dowd said it’s clear a “desperate Biden team” is prepared to “go to war over every syllable.”

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Dowd said two radio show hosts admitting over the weekend to having received questions from the White House prior to their interviews with the president show how the Biden campaign and administration have become even more “smotheringly protective” of the commander in chief.

The strained dynamic could put journalists at odds with the White House, Dowd warned.

“A panicky White House is going to be persnickety, acting as though journalists are unfairly picking on the president about every gaffe, berating them when they don’t properly interpret the president’s elisions and jumbles,” she argued.

“Journalists are going to be appropriately resistant to making corrections based on what the White House asserts Biden said, or its version of what Biden intended to say,” Dowd went on, adding, “It’s not our job to play Mad Libs with the president.”

Ducklo did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

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