Who made this quote about knowledge and power?
November 8, 2011 6:55 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me find a specific NYT Magazine article with an interview with a Bush administration official, or help me figure out where this article appeared that was not the NYTimes?

Working on a reference question for a friend of mine. Not time sensitive. He asks "finding an article, written some time ago in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. A reporter was interviewing a senior official during the Bush Years and the man ridiculed him for trying to find the "facts". He said something like, 'We make history. And by the time you’ve figured out what actually happened, we’ve moved on and created another reality.' It was a very powerful and frightening admission of the contempt in which Power holds knowledge..."

He's pretty sure this happened towards the end of the Bush administration and "certain" it was NYTimes magazine. Thinks "reporter may have been named Sidney or Stanley" and says "It sounds like classic Rumsfeld, but the figure was not identified." This was the closest I found but that isn't it.

This sort of thing is usually solidly in my wheelhouse. I have gone to the NYTimes and used their advanced search to dig in the archives using many combinations of these terms (facts, bush administration, senior official, "we make history", reality, interview, Iraq) and date ranges from 2004-2009, and expanded back to 2001. I've limited the search to the magazine only, and I've broadened it out again. I've done some broad-based Google searching to see it it was possibly published someplace else.

I am just not finding this and I thought it might be the sort of thing that someone had read and could immediately be like "Oh here it is!" or give me some pointers as far as who the interviewer/writer might be and where else I could look. Thanks in advance for the extra eyes.
posted by jessamyn to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Stanley Fish is a NYT columnist. Don't know if that helps.
posted by dfriedman at 6:57 PM on November 8, 2011

Ron Suskind: "The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''"
posted by one_bean at 6:57 PM on November 8, 2011 [13 favorites]

Could it have been something by Seymour Hersch (aka Sy Hersch) in the New Yorker?
posted by yarly at 6:57 PM on November 8, 2011

One_bean has it. Here is a wikipedia article on the quote: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality-based_community
posted by Xalf at 6:59 PM on November 8, 2011

Oh man, I actually had that article on a list of "read all the words" because it seemed right but I wasn't finding the right paragraph. That seems like it might be the right paragraph. Woo!
posted by jessamyn at 7:01 PM on November 8, 2011

The whole "reality-based community" angle from the Suskind piece became a meme/touchstone among liberal bloggers for a few years.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 7:18 PM on November 8, 2011

Note that while Suskind protected his source, others have identified the speaker as Karl Rove.

I think it's safe to say that this quote will go down in history as the distillation of the Bush regime. Some fairly recent discussion of it:
Le Monde Diplomatique; Greenwald; appearances in some 90 books thus far.

Rove just recently said of Suskind, oddly in critiquing the latter's new book on the Obama administration, almost certainly pointing to this quote,
My personal experience with him is that he tends to exaggerate. I had an interview once in the West Wing with him where literally he was transcribing my comments and sort of repeating them back and he couldn’t get what I had just said accurate.
posted by dhartung at 12:43 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another affirmation of the power of AskMe.
posted by caddis at 4:39 AM on November 9, 2011

The quote is mentioned as part of a hostile analysis of the veracity of Suskind's reporting by Slate's Jacob Weisberg, here.
posted by oliverburkeman at 4:50 AM on November 9, 2011

Yeah, I work with the media all the time, every day, and like Weisberg, that quote pegged my bullshit detector at 11. It is just so egregiously over-the-top, so perfectly encapsulates the confirmation biases of Bush administration critics (among which I count myself), and I get the sense it was meticulously fashioned precisely to spur discussion and sell books.
posted by Alaska Jack at 8:56 AM on November 9, 2011

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