In the spirit of patriotism and self-indulgence, I’m sharing with you an exchange I had with the Times’ public editor about Adam Nagourney’s claim that Bush never actually said “mission accomplished”.
Date: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 23:36:11 -0400
To: [email protected]
Subject: recent Nagourney article
Dear Mr. Okrent,
In his article “Strong Charges Set New Tone Before Debate”, Adam
Nagourney says “Mr. Bush never actually said “mission accomplished,”
but stood in front of a banner that contained those words.” In fact,
Mr. Bush said “America sent you on a mission to remove a grave threat
and to liberate an oppressed people, and that mission has been
accomplished.” You can check this at
if you like.
From: Public <[email protected]>
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2004 14:28:59 -0400
Subject: 9/27 Reader Concern
We raised your concern with a senior editor who noted that these are
completely different appearances by President Bush. The speech that
you cited from the Web was a month later than Bush’s “Mission
Accomplished” appearance on the ship. And it is clear in the Nagourney
piece when Mr. Nagourney uses the word “never” he means President Bush
didn’t speak those words in that appearance on that day. Mr. Nagourney
doesn’t mean to be saying that Bush never — anywhere — spoke the
words “mission accomplished.”
I hope this is helpful. Thank you for your message and your vigilance.
Office of the Public Editor
Date: Mon, Sep 27, 2004 at 2:39 PM
Subject: Re: 9/27 Reader Concern
To: Public <[email protected]>
Dear Mr. Bovino,
Thank you for your prompt reply. My dictionary defines “never” as
“not ever; on no occasion; at no time.” Does the New York Times have
a dictionary that defines “never” as “not on that day but perhaps on
another occasion a month later”?