Obama Administration

New York Times Alters Hagel Story to Eliminate Obama's Dismissive Analysis of ISIS


How long before the administration tries to pretend it never chose him in the first place?

Yesterday, The New York Times broke the story that Chuck Hagel was resigning under pressure (fired) as secretary of defense. The story noted the struggle Hagel had trying to gain any traction within President Barack Obama's insider-run administration, his lack of much influence with the establishment, and it pointed out when Hagel's comments deviated from the administration's.

One notable example was how the two men discussed the Islamic State (ISIS). Early in the year, President Barack Obama compared the terrorist group to a junior varsity basketball squad putting on the Lakers' uniform. This seemed a bit dismissive of what ISIS might be able to accomplish, especially in retrospect (a United Nations expert estimates ISIS has made up to $45 million in ransoms in the past year). By contrast, Hagel described ISIS as an "imminent threat to all we have," an exaggeration in the other direction. The New York Times included a paragraph in his story with both examples to show the difference between the two men's positions.

Now that paragraph is gone. It was there when I wrote about Hagel stepping down yesterday. Now it has disappeared. Erick Erickson at Red State notes the change here, as well the removal of a sentence where sources said that Hagel had been the kind of defense secretary the president had wanted.

What's left behind is a story that has purged any reference that the president ever downplayed ISIS while Hagel played it up and makes it appear that Gen. Martin Dempsey was the main guy pushing for action against ISIS.

The story has had content added as well, as The New York Times folded in more responses to Hagel's resignation as it unfolded yesterday morning. But there is no explanation as to why that paragraph was deleted or any acknowledgment that it even happened.