CONTEXT MATTERS…. What President Obama said:

“Al Qaeda is still bent on carrying out terrorist activity. It is — don’t fool yourselves — because some people say, ‘Well, you know, if we changed our policies with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or if we were more respectful towards the Muslim world, suddenly these organizations would stop threatening us.’ That’s just not the case.

“It is true that we have to change our behavior in showing the Muslim world greater respect, and changing our language and changing our tone. It is true that we have to work very hard for Israeli-Palestinian peace. But what is also true is that these organizations are willing to kill innocent people because of a twisted, distorted ideology. And we, as democracies and as people who value human life, can’t allow those organizations to operate.”

What CNN reported President Obama as saying:

“It is true that we have to change our behavior in showing the Muslim world greater respect.”

As Greg Sargent explained, “So Obama actually said that showing ‘respect’ to the Muslim world won’t stop terrorists from killing us and that we have to put terror groups out of business. His call for ‘respect’ towards the Muslim world was a kind of afterthought in a long discussion of the need to get tougher on terrorism.”

Right, but that only matters if your goal is to present the public with accurate information.

Yesterday, a CNN White House correspondent pressed press secretary Robert Gibbs on whether the president bowed to Saudi King Abdullah, a topic of great importance to right-wing bloggers and radio hosts. Gibbs ended up mocking the reporter for asking about such nonsense.

And the result was a segment all about the alleged bowing, including the out-of-context quote.

Remember, this wasn’t Fox News; it was CNN.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.