Last week, Bush administration officials invited senior congressional reporters to the White House and pressured them to increase their coverage of how Iraq war critics are "divided" over legislative strategy, multiple sources have confirmed with ThinkProgress.
The sources say White House officials pointed to examples of national political reporters who have highlighted such "division" and pressed the congressional reporters to follow suit. Specifically, the White House pointed to a recent AP piece on Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), which reported that Obama believes that "[i]f President Bush vetoes an Iraq war spending bill as promised, Congress quickly will provide the money without the withdrawal timeline the White House objects to." In a speech this week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also drew attention to the AP's characterization:
When the president vetoes, as he should, the bill that refuses to support General Petraeus' new plan, I hope Democrats in Congress will heed the advice of one of their leading candidates for president, Senator Obama, and immediately pass a new bill to provide support to our troops in Iraq without substituting their partisan interests for those of our troops and our country.
The effort to highlight this article is notable because it turned out to be baseless. The AP report never directly quoted Obama saying that Congress would give up its fight for a withdrawal timeline, and Obama has said the AP's characterization is false. Indeed, Obama has been quoted saying the direct opposite - that Congress will continue to force votes on a timeline - both before and after the AP report.
If you see instances of White House reporting that focuses on the whole notion that the Democrats are divided on withdrawal (because, let's be honest, Lieberman wasn't a Democrat on this issue even when there was a "-D" legitimately by his name), please let us know. Let's call out these White House stenographers.