By: Mark Fitzgerald
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Religion Editor Frank Lockwood — who set off a firestorm of criticism that reached into the White House with his story quoting Jimmy Carter calling George W. Bush the worst president in history — said Monday that he quoted the former president accurately, fairly and in context.
The proof, he says, is in audio posted on the Democrat-Gazette Web site.
“I think the president’s words speak for themselves,” Lockwood told E&P. “He’s accurately quoted, he’s quoted in context, and it’s fair.”
Lockwood’s story in Saturday’s Democrat-Gazette quoted Carter as saying: “I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.”
After a national uproar over the weekend that included a scolding by a White House press spokesman, Carter said on the Today Show that his comments were “careless or misinterpreted.”
Carter added that he had been asked a question comparing the foreign policies of the administrations of George W. Bush and Richard M. Nixon, suggesting that the “worst” title was limited to foregn affairs.
But in the audio of the interview, which the Democrat-Gazette posted on its Web site Saturday, Lockwood can be heard asking: “Which president was worse, George W. Bush or Richard Nixon?”
And in a telephone interview, Lockwood noted that Carter went on to condemn the Bush administration for a wide variety of faults in domestic as well as international arenas.
“He criticized the current president’s policy on war, the environment, the separation of church and state, arms control, diplomacy — it was broad, sweeping criticism basically,” Lockwood said.
Lockwood interviewed Carter Friday morning for a story, scheduled to run in next Saturday’s religion pages, about the former president’s new audio book, a collection of Sunday school lessons called “Sunday Mornings In Plains.”
“I felt like the comments the former president had made were too newsworthy, and too important to sit on them for a week,” Lockwood said.
Readers of Lockwood’s blog apparently agree with Carter’s assessment of his successor, Lockwood noted. An online survey that had attracted 241 votes by early Monday afternoon showed 73.8% of respondents agreed Bush was “‘the worst in history'” as far as having ‘an adverse impact on the nation around the world.'”