Columnist Maureen Dowd defends column on Biden presidential run

joe biden maureen dowd

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd insists she had the facts right in her much-talked-about piece on Joe Biden's presidential aspirations.

The column, which was published on August 1, has come under scrutiny in recent days following remarks made by the vice president.

During an interview Sunday on "60 Minutes," Biden dismissed the notion that his dying son Beau had made a dramatic plea for his father to make a late entry in the 2016 race.

"Beau all along thought that I should run and I could win," Biden said. "But there was not what was sort of made out as kind of this Hollywood-esque thing that at the last minute Beau grabbed my hand and said, 'Dad, you've got to run, like, win one for the Gipper.' It wasn't anything like that."

To many, that sounded like a rebuttal to Dowd's column, which detailed the late Beau Biden's efforts to persuade his father to run. But Dowd isn't backing down.

In an email to Times public editor Margaret Sullivan published on Tuesday, Dowd said the vice president repudiated an anecdote that wasn't even in her column.

"The column is accurate," Dowd said.

"I never reported a last-minute deathbed scene where Beau grabbed his father's hand," she added. "In fact, my column recounted a conversation they had seated at a table after Beau knew his prognosis was bad."

Related: With Biden out, media frenzy fizzles

Moreover, Dowd pointed to a story published in June by the Wall Street Journal that included a similar anecdote.

In her column, Dowd wrote, "Beau was losing his nouns and the right side of his face was partially paralyzed. But he had a mission: He tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values."

The column does not mention Beau Biden grabbing his father's hand, and Dowd wrote that the conversation took place at a table, not Beau's deathbed.

Both Sullivan and Times executive editor Dean Baquet have strongly backed Dowd.

Dowd's column ignited speculation of a Joe Biden presidential run that engulfed the media for months before finally getting extinguished last week. The piece spawned a flurry of followups, and it was in those stories where the conversation between Biden and his terminally ill son became more cinematic in its telling.

For example, the New York Daily News reported that the "dramatic death bed exchange was revealed in a piece published ... by New York Times' columnist Maureen Dowd." Several others reporters and pundits described the anecdote the same way, despite the word "bed" never once appearing in Dowd's column.

Sullivan wrote Tuesday that even the Times' own news story, published shortly after Dowd's column, went "a step too far."

The Times' news story said: "Ms. Dowd reported that as Beau Biden lay dying from brain cancer, he tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values."

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