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Stephanopoulos Concedes Not Pressing Giuliani On 9/11 Attack Was "Mistake" [UPDATED]

First Posted: 03/18/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 04:10 PM ET

G Steph

UPDATE: Stephanopoulos posted this item on his "Bottom Line" blog:

Through his spokesman, Rudy Giuliani has clarified the remarks he made this morning on GMA regarding terrorist attacks on the United States under Presidents Bush and Obama.


The Mayor's spokesman says that the remark "didn't come across as it was intended" and that Giuliani was "clearly talking post-9/11 with regards to Islamic terrorist attacks on our soil."

Whatever the Mayor meant, it's not what he said. All of you who have pointed out that I should have pressed him on that misstatement in the moment are right. My mistake, my responsibility.

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An ABC News interview between Rudy Giuliani and newly-minted Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos yielded a moment of perplexing amnesia when the former New York City mayor asserted, "We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We've had one under Obama." See, I'm pretty certain I remember there being at least one! How did Stephanopoulos jump on that? Well...he didn't!

GIULIANI: What he [Obama] should be doing is following the right things that Bush did -- one of the right things he did was treat this as a war on terror. We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We've had one under Obama. Number two, he should correct the things that Bush didn't do right. Sending people to Yemen was wrong, not getting this whole intelligence thing corrected."


STEPHANOPOULOS: So the bottom line is that the President has stepped up, he's taken responsibility, he's calling it a war, are you satisfied?

Seriously? This is like Indiana Jones telling you, "Ark of the what, now? Sorry, that doesn't ring a bell."

But the narrative, remember, is the media's most precious bodily fluid. And once you've embarked on a critique of Obama's response to the Christmas Crotchfire attack, I guess it just wouldn't be sporting to switch gears and ask the public figure most connected to the September 11th attacks how it came to pass that he forgot who was President at the time.

Now, look: maybe what Giuliani wants to say is that there were no domestic attacks under Bush after September 11th. In that case...oh, wait, he's still wrong. Let's recall that the precursor to the Christmas Crotchfire attack was "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. His attack -- a virtual parallel to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's -- occurred on December 22, 2001. I'm almost positive Bush was President at the time. Viewers got to see Reid's visage flash on their screens, so it's not like ABC News isn't aware of his existence.

Of course, what's scintillatingly dumb about this is that ABC News knows full well that Rudy's weird memory lapse is the big story here. In the emails they've sent out, pimping this story to reporters, the subject line reads, "Rudy Giuliani to ABC News: 'No Domestic Attacks Under Bush. ... One Under Obama.'" The title of Stephanopoulos' after-action blog post is the same. They're fully aware that it's the quote that's going to resonate with people. They want credit for pulling it out of Giuliani. They just want you to ignore the teensy little fact that they totally bollixed that moment of the interview.

As Rachel Weiner pointed out earlier on these pages, Giuliani isn't the first Republican to make this mistake. So, at the very least, Good Morning America can now write a "trend piece" on forgetting the basic facts of September 11th.

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