LAYERS AND LAYERS OF FACT-CHECKERS AND EDITORS:
— Salon (@Salon) December 15, 2016
It isn’t like anyone believed Salon was ruthlessly employing layers of editors and fact-checkers, but this headline is an egregious mistake still.
LAYERS OF EDITORS AND FACT-CHECKERS: BBC Swallows “Petition For Second Brexit Referendum” Prank from 4Chan and thinks it’s real.
IS THIS THE HOPE, OR THE CHANGE? NORTH KOREA SAYS IT SUCCESSFULLY CONDUCTS HYDROGEN BOMB TEST:
North Korea says it has successfully carried out a hydrogen bomb test, which if confirmed, will be a first for the reclusive regime and a significant advancement for its military ambitions.
A hydrogen bomb is more powerful than plutonium weapons, which is what North Korea used in its three previous underground nuclear tests.
“If there’s no invasion on our sovereignty we will not use nuclear weapon,” the North Korean state news agency said. “This H-bomb test brings us to a higher level of nuclear power.”
If true, the symmetry of the Norks announcing they’ve armed themselves with the H-bomb on the same day that Obama went full-Boehner while proposing disarming innocent Americans of their firearms is truly staggering. But then, when it comes to generating absurdity, there’s no way any satirist can compete with reality.
Or with the Obama administration, for that matter.
Speaking of which, in response to the State Department urging “North Korea to exercise restraint and refrain from further threatening actions,” James Taranto quips, “#YoureGonnaNeedABiggerHashtag.”
And you’re going to have move that red line yet again. “Today, President Park and I are reaffirming that our nations will never accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state,” President Boehner tweeted with a tear in his eye 80 days ago back in October.
In lighter news from the intersection of DC and the Hermit State, would-be Washington Post “fact checker” Glenn Kessler blindly retweets parody North Korean news agency account weighing on Donald Trump’s “Ted Cruise” birther shtick.
Layers and layers of fact-checkers and editors…
THE NEW YORK TIMES’ NAIL SALONS SERIES WAS FILLED WITH MISQUOTES AND FACTUAL ERRORS. Reason magazine’s Jim Epstein explains why it matters:
A two-part series in The New York Times on nail salons has brought sweeping changes to an industry dominated by Korean and Chinese immigrants. Written by reporter Sarah Maslin Nir, the series, which ran in print on May 10 and 11, focused on the plight of nail salon manicurists in New York City and Long Island. It depicted a community of immigrant workers paid shockingly low wages to beautify the fingers and toes of affluent New Yorkers while inhaling toxic fumes that cause miscarriages and cancer.
Nir, who spent 13 months on the project, said in an interview that she initially pitched the story as an “expose,” adding that the “great lesson” readers should come away with is that there’s “no such thing as a cheap luxury.” The only way “you can have something decadent for a cheap price is by someone being exploited.” (My Reason colleague, Elizabeth Nolan Brown, wrote a critique of Nir’s series shortly after it was published.)
The “great lesson” here is actually something different. I’ve spent the last several weeks re-reporting aspects of Nir’s story and interviewing her sources. Not only did Nir’s coverage broadly mischaracterize the nail salon industry, several of the men and women she spoke with say she misquoted or misrepresented them. In some cases, she interviewed sources without translators despite their poor English skills. When her sources’ testimonies ran counter to her narrative, she omitted them altogether.
Read the whole thing, which is a classic example of the late Michael Crichton’s Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect in action. If the Times has botched this story as badly as Epstein writes, imagine what other stories its hard left biases have muddled.
INVESTIFARTED: Layers and layers of fact-checkers and editors:
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) July 17, 2015
Yes, we’ll all be completely sick of this word in a day or two. But for now, enjoy the fun.
LAYERS AND LAYERS OF FACT-CHECKERS AND EDITORS: Washington Post Writer Who Accused Amy Schumer Of Racism Never Saw Her Standup or TV Show:
The Interrobang; Have you ever watched Amy’s television show… in preparation for the article?
Stacey Patton: Nope. Not at all.
The Interrobang: Her stand up set[s]? have you ever watched any of them?
Stacey Patton: Nope. None of them.
Who needs facts and research, when you have feelings that need expressing? Even after Patton smeared Schumer as a racist, her interviewer is still willing to give her a pass. Because, once again, feelings:
I don’t doubt that Dr. Patton means well.
In an era where the left can point their finger at anyone and weaponize him or her as a racist — including their own — I do.
And note this:
@Olivianuzzi Wait til you get to the comments, where the professor replies and goes into character assassin mode.
— Autumn Florek (@AutumnFlorek) July 10, 2015
Which is exactly how Patton lashed out on Twitter earlier this week to anyone who complained, when her article was originally greenlit by her enablers at the Post. As John Schindler asks today on Twitter, “Why is WaPo giving a forum to these sorts of low-information #SJWs?”
LAYERS AND LAYERS OF FACT-CHECKERS AND EDITORS: How a 16-year-old tricked the New York Times into reporting that Dylann Roof blogged about “My Little Pony.”
(Via [email protected].)
When a sensational rape story is found to be fraudulent, there are few ramifications for those who perpetrated the hoax in the first place.
To take the most recent example, no one is getting fired at Rolling Stone for its fraudulent article about a brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia. The fact-checkers who failed to raise sufficient concerns about the lack of corroborating evidence, the editors who removed crucial details that would have made the article’s weaknesses clear, and the author who sought a sensational story to fit an agenda will all keep their jobs. . . .
And beyond those at RS who allowed the hoax to go forward, those who helped spread the story once it was published faced no consequences either. U.Va. president Teresa Sullivan offered no apology for her role in treating Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity accused in the RS article, as guilty from the start. Similarly, there appears to be no investigation to discover the vandals who smashed windows and spray-painted hateful messages at the fraternity house.
Jackie, the source of the false article, still has her privileged status as a victim, despite there being no evidence that she is the victim of anything.
The same was true of the Duke lacrosse hoax nearly a decade ago. Richard Brodhead is still the president of the university. Wendy Murphy, who spread lie after lie about the case on television throughout the ordeal, is still being asked for her opinion (in fact she was quoted in the now-retracted Rolling Stone article — go figure). The activists and professors who smeared the lacrosse players were never held accountable.
At least with Duke, the prosecutor who targeted the lacrosse players to advance his own personal ambitions was disbarred. The police officer who helped railroad the students was merely reassigned. (He retired in 2008 and committed suicide in 2014, although it is unclear whether his role in the hoax had anything to do with his death.) The accuser, Crystal Mangum, faced no repercussions for filing a false report, and in fact went on to write a book. But in an unrelated twist, she is now serving a prison sentence for second-degree murder.
In the case of Tawana Brawley — arguably the most famous rape hoax in modern U.S. history — she eluded paying defamation damages for 25 years. Al Sharpton, who embraced and lied about that case, has his own show on MSNBC today. Although he was ordered to pay damages as well, he refused for years before his friends finally paid his debt for him.
Meanwhile, in each of these cases, those accused in the initial hoax suffered far greater punishments than the liars who created the hoax. Phi Kappa Psi had their house vandalized and reputation greatly tarnished by the media without receiving an apology from anyone. (They’re now suing.) . . .
Even when rape hoaxes are exposed, political correctness and a demand to adhere to the ultimate “rape culture” narrative keeps false accusers insulated while the wrongly accused suffer.
Yeah, that needs to stop now.
LAYERS OF FACT-CHECKERS AND EDITORS: The Curious Case Of The T.V. Attorney And Twitter.
Last Thursday morning, Boston.com staff were called into a meeting to discuss what they thought was the worst mistake they would have to deal with that day. The previous evening, the site had posted a story accusing Harvard Business School Professor Ben Edelman of sending a racist email to a Sichuan Garden employee—only to retract the story a short time later, as it became clear that Edelman didn’t actually send the email, a key fact they hadn’t verified before going live with their version of events.
In the meeting, Corey Gottlieb, executive director of digital strategy and operations at Boston Globe Media Partners, assured the team that, this incident notwithstanding, Boston.com’s values and processes are solid. “There’s a reason this doesn’t happen every other week,” Gottlieb said. “This feels more like an exception.”
What Gottlieb probably didn’t know at the time was that the next act was unfolding right in front of him. The morning meeting was being secretly recorded, and the leaked audio would later land in the hands of a couple of media outlets around town, prompting rumors of disciplinary action of two staffers. And Hilary Sargent, the top editor in the room, would be handed a weeklong suspension after a “joke” she made online landed with a thud.
Layers of editors and fact-checkers. Plus, stonewalling media inquiries about the debacle: “When it comes to answering journalists’ difficult questions, the Globe’s policy is Do as we say, not as we do.”
LAYERS OF EDITORS AND FACT-CHECKERS (CONT’D): EXCLUSIVE: New York Mag’s Boy Genius Investor Made It All Up.
Who does New York Magazine think they are, Rolling Stone?
LAYERS OF EDITORS AND FACT-CHECKERS: “That parody story about Michele Bachmann proposing to set up labor camps for illegal immigrant children, which took in our dear friends at Think Progress, has taken in the New York Times as well: Brazil bureau chief Simon Romero is tweeting the fake story as though it were real.”
UPDATE: Hey, though, this may actually do more than anything to shrink the flow of immigrants. Idea for anti-illegal-immigration groups: Buy ads in Central America, looking pretty official, denying that the U.S. Government puts illegals into forced-labor camps. Say that what the New York Times and ThinkProgress are reporting is false! Pay no attention to these absurd claims!
Scooter Libby got convicted when prosecutors compared his memory about Plame to the memory of journalists.
And now journalists can’t remember what Libby got convicted for.
And all those layers of editors and fact-checkers didn’t help.
JOURNALISM: Washington Post Falls For Left-Wing Fraud, Embarrasses Itself. Layers of editors, fact-checkers, and press-release-reprinters. . . . .
ED DRISCOLL: Layers and Layers of Editors and Fact-Checkers. “Hey, don’t knock ‘em — those Gibson hollow body Stratocasters are awesome guitars, and they fit very easily into the limited trunk space of a Chevrolet Mustang. And who can forget Eric Hendrix playing the Star-Spangled ‘Tis of Thee on one at Woodmont?”
LAYERS OF FACT-CHECKERS AND EDITORS.
LAYERS OF EDITORS AND FACT-CHECKERS: At KTVU. And, apparently, the NTSB. . . .
WOULD SOMEONE EXPLAIN TO THE ASSOCIATED PRESS THAT Spitfires aren’t “Fighter Jets?”
UPDATE: Reader Michael Blum emails:
Amusingly, WaPo has corrected their headline and the article removing the mentions of “fighter jets”.
Of course, they also don’t bother mentioning any corrections to the article itself anywhere.
Would hate to have people think that journalists and “layers of fact-checkers and editors” don’t know what they’re writing about.
The frenzy began Monday morning when the Washington Post reported that “the federal government wants to create super Wi-Fi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month.” Best of all, network access would be free. “If all goes as planned, free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas,” the Post reported. The clear implication: this was a bold—and entirely brand-new—plan.
Unfortunately, the piece was basically nonsense. What had really happened was in fact unbelievably boring: the Post simply observed an incremental development in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) at the Federal Communications Commission over the issue of incentive auctions that might free up some additional unlicensed spectrum for so-called “White Space Devices” (read our explainer) operating in and around the current over-the-air TV bands. (I told you it was boring; in addition, the basic debate over White Space Devices was actually settled in 2008.)
From this thin material, which basically consisted of Internet service providers and tech companies sniping at each other in long legal documents, with no decisions being made by anyone and no new proposals of anything, the Post then reported—on the front page, above the fold of the country’s eighth-most highly circulated newspaper—that the FCC plan could lead to free Internet for most US residents.
So much for all those layers of editors and fact-checkers.
UPDATE: Reader Drew Kelley writes: “Another demonstration that the media-class is basically composed of moochers, who want everything on somebody else’s dime.”
MISTAKEN NATION: Modern Journalism And the Proliferation of Errors. Well, those layers of editors and fact-checkers were never that great. But now they’ve mostly been laid off.
Trip Gabriel of the New York Times recalls a threefer from a single campaign trail dispatch last year. His story misspelled Tammy Faye Bakker’s last name (“Baker”), misspelled Hillary Clinton’s first name (“Hilary”) and reported the wrong call letters for a TV station. “I should have done better,” says Gabriel, “especially since I later wrote a piece about [Rep. Michele] Bachmann’s penchant for playing fast and loose with facts.”
Ya think? But, you know, the real reason for declining trust in journalism isn’t honest error — it’s dishonest reporting.
JOURNALISM: AP story about Petraeus scandal mistakenly refers to “Florida socialist” Jill Kelley. Well, to be fair, she did visit the White House three times this year, so that may have confused all those layers of editors and fact-checkers. . . .
LAYERS OF EDITORS AND FACT-CHECKERS: NBC Reports On Death of Astronaut Neil Young.
UPDATE: A pic.
LAYERS OF EDITORS AND FACT-CHECKERS: How This Guy Lied His Way Into MSNBC, ABC News, The New York Times and More.
So the blatant, racially charged distortion of George Zimmerman’s 911 call started on NBC 6 Miami on March 19, appearing in two articles by three different writers. It was repeated on March 20 in an article attributed to one of the three writers. The articles have been updated, but the quotes remain. The mis-quote aired on the Today Show on March 22 during a live segment with reporter Lilia Luciano, and again on March 27 with reporter Ron Allen.
For NBC and MSNBC to characterize the error as a single episode caused by a producer’s time constraints in getting a video clip ready for live morning television, which just unfortunately happened to be missed by layers of editorial control, is not very convincing.
Nope. So much for all those layers of editors and fact-checkers. Kinda looks. . . reckless.
LAYERS OF editors and fact-checkers.
LAYERS OF EDITORS AND FACT-CHECKERS: Greg Packer Snookers the L.A. Times in a Big Way.
NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: California High School Student Devises Possible Cancer Cure. Hurray for smart teens. On the other hand, CBS’s layers of editors and fact-checkers need some copyediting help:
Angela’s idea was to mix cancer medicine in a polymer that would attach to nanoparticles — nanoparticles that would then attach to cancer cells and show up on an MRI. so doctors could see exactly where the tumors are. Then she thought [t]hat if you aimed an infrared light at the tumors to melt the polymer and release the medicine, thus killing the cancer cells while leaving healthy cells completely unharmed.
Well, the point’s fairly clear, but the writing is atrocious.
“FORMER PRESIDENT AL GORE:” Layers of fact-checkers and editors at Reuters.
SARAH PALIN RELEASES A statement on the Tucson Shootings.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Lame complaints about the term “blood libel.”
Typically, but not exclusively, blood libels have been accusations against Jews. But blood libels have also been made historically against Christians — including Catholics and the Knights Templar — witches and pagans, and, more modernly, Satanists.
Liberals need something to mumble about, so goshdarnitow sometime between yesterday and today the term came to apply only to the Jews. They’d like you to believe this is “another” example of Palin’s ignorance, even though, as I said, by their own definition her use of the term is appropriate. As with their response to the Arizona shooting, facts-be-damned they’ve got a story and they’re sticking to it. . . .
This is willful ignorance so liberal commentators can feel good about themselves. Their slander over the weekend didn’t stick, so now it’s on to a new one. Notice, they can’t claim not to have made the false accusation that the Tea Party caused the Arizona shooting. So instead of defending it, which they can’t, they’ll just quibble about the words Palin used.
That seems to be how it works. And here are a bunch of examples of “blood libel” used in various contexts, by people as diverse as Andrew Sullivan and Ann Coulter, as well as Alex Beam, Michael Barone, Andrew Cohen of CBS, and Les Payne. Nobody cared, because Sarah Palin wasn’t involved. Heck, I used the term myself in my WSJ column. I got a grouchy email or two, but nobody else — even among the lefties who criticized it — seemed to care about the use of the term. This is the silliest hissyfit yet, and is itself evidence that there’s no substantive response.
MORE: No, the headline on my piece — “The Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel” — didn’t come from me. It was provided, as headlines usually are, by the WSJ. But I did use the term in the piece. My headline was “Have You No Decency?” Because what’s going on here — however much they’re trying to change the subject — is precisely the kind of McCarthyism the media left purports to disdain.
STILL MORE: Reader David Ringelman emails that Sarah Palin must have been reading Frank Rich, who wrote in 2006:
The moment Mr. Foley’s e-mails became known, we saw that brand of fearmongering and bigotry at full tilt: Bush administration allies exploited the former Congressman’s predatory history to spread the grotesque canard that homosexuality is a direct path to pedophilia. It’s the kind of blood libel that in another era was spread about Jews.
And yet, somehow, it slipped right by all those layers of culturally sensitive editors and fact-checkers at the New York Times. That’s because, once again, a made-up double-standard has been invented for a particular purpose. Really, is this all they’ve got? Yes.
FINALLY: Alan Dershowitz says “blood libel” is a perfectly acceptable metaphor, and many others weigh in.
LAYERS OF EDITORS AND FACT-CHECKERS: New York Times gets Jules Verne wrong:
Perhaps the most famous work in the genre is Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon,” which was published in Paris in 1865, and which accurately predicted not only that people from the United States would be the first to set foot on the Moon but also, among other details, that the craft carrying them would be launched from Florida, splash down in the Pacific and be rescued by the United States Navy. NASA’s Apollo program “helped make Verne popular again,” Mr. Brunner writes.
Actually, Verne’s explorers merely flew around the moon; they didn’t land.
IT’S THOSE “LAYERS OF FACT-CHECKERS AND EDITORS:” Washington Post confuses Barack Obama with Malcolm X.
LAYERS OF EDITORS AND FACT-CHECKERS FAIL AGAIN: Fake story meant to ensnare bloggers catches NYT instead.
The basic idea was this: A bunch of law bloggers would try to punk the political bloggers, whose reputation is to grab any old rumor and run with it. Fact checking hasn’t always been the strong suit of this community.
But the political bloggers, to their collective credit, didn’t bite, despite wide dissemination of the story. Not on the right or the left. Instead it was the vaunted New York Times that ran with the story without bothering to check its facts. The Times, of course, had no sense of humor about it when the angry phone call came to me a couple of hours later.
Heh. Well, anybody can be fooled, but the Big Media folks sure pull a lot of attitude.
GLENN GREENWALD: Krugman, Gruber, and non-disclosure issues. “The issue is the non-disclosure, and — most serious of all — the misleading attempts by the White House and others to depict him as being ‘objective’ and independent rather than disclosing that he was being paid a significant amount of money by the very party whose interests his advocacy was advancing (which happens to be one of the misleading schemes Sunstein explicitly advocated in his 2008 paper). . . . That’s the only issue here: for many people, there’s a big difference between hearing from a truly independent authority about Obama’s plan and hearing from someone being paid many hundreds of thousands of dollars by the administration.” Those “others” would include the media organizations whose high ethical standards and layers of editors and fact-checkers are supposed to protect readers . . . .
PRESS STUPIDITY ABOUT GUNS CONTINUES: Or maybe it’s just dishonesty:
The media is wasting very little time informing us that the weapon used by Major Nidal Malik Hasan in his rampage at Fort Hood was a “cop killer.”
Ft. Hood terrorist used a cop killer FN-Five Seven tactical pistol—20 round clip — Examiner
‘Cop Killer” Gun though to Be Used in Ft. Hood Shooting, Offiicals Said — ABC News
Fort Hood shootings: gunman used ‘cop killer’ weapon in massacre at US Army base — UK Telegraph
Ironically, there is no known record of that weapon even being used to kill a police officer in the United States, and there is a distinct possibility that Sgt. Kimberly Munley, wounded while engaging Hasan, may have been the first American law enforcement officer ever shot with a Five-seveN.
How did the Five-seveN get it’s “cop killer” reputation, then?
It was created in a Brady Campaign press release in February of 2005.
Funny how often things work that way. Where are the “layers of editors and fact-checkers” when you need them?
UPDATE: Several readers write, and Wikipedia reports, that the FN is used by Secret Service protective details. Can we say “weapon of choice for President Obama’s bodyguards” then?
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader who says he’s a special agent with the Secret Service says that they don’t use the five-seven. What? Could Wikipedia be wrong?
IT’S THOSE LAYERS OF EDITORS AND FACT-CHECKERS AGAIN: CNBC, Reuters fall for climate hoax.
USA TODAY’S fact-checking of Obama’s town-hall assertions is discussed by Ed Morrissey. And here’s more fact-checking from Heritage. I love this bit from Ed on the generally-credulous media treatments: “The media had a field day with this yesterday, using Isakson as a bat with which beat conservative critics, but it never occurred to the layers of fact-checkers and editors that a Senator would have had nothing to do with a clause in a House bill. In fact, Isakson does support making end-of-life planning available, but doesn’t support the mandate for it that exists in Section 1233 of the House bill.” Senate, House, whatever. If the distinction were important, it would have been in the talking points.
KATIE COURIC VS. Alessandra Stanley. Let down again by those layers of editors and fact-checkers. . . .
LAYERS OF EDITORS AND FACT-CHECKERS SLIP UP: Pa. newspaper ad calls for Obama assassination. “Elchert tells The Associated Press that the newspaper’s advertising staff didn’t make the historical connection.”
It could have been worse. It could have said “Snipers Wanted.”
UPDATE: Reader Robert Crawford writes:
What does it say about the effectiveness of our educational institutions that no one connected that list of presidents to assassination? I can forgive not recognizing McKinley and Garfield as being murdered, but Lincoln and Kennedy?! Wouldn’t those two names make you wonder?
Nothing good. Sigh, indeed.
AT THE L.A. TIMES, those layers of fact-checkers and editors.
THE NEW YORK TIMES falls for a parody site. It’s all those layers of editors and fact-checkers . . . .
THOSE MANY LAYERS OF EDITORS AND FACT-CHECKERS think that Meryl Yourish and Neo-neocon are the same blogger. Hope Meryl’s correction comes faster than mine!
Plus, unable to distinguish “principle” from “principal.” Yeah, Carlos, they need your money — but is this a good investment?
UNEMPLOYMENT: Hitting men harder than women. More from Daniel Drezner, who notes a major error by Linda Hirshman that slipped past those layers of editors and fact-checkers. (Thanks to reader John Chilton, who adds: “What was that about standalone bloggers?” Maybe we’re not obsolete yet!)
UPDATE: Hirshman responds in the comments, and Drezner responds to her response. And there’s more discussion over at Megan McArdle’s.
DON SURBER fact-checks the L.A. Times. Apparently those vaunted layers of editors and fact-checkers didn’t do much editing or fact-checking. Again. I think it’s mostly the editors, though, because the article doesn’t clearly distinguish between McCain supporters in 2000 and today. Plenty of people who supported him then don’t support him now, and vice versa.
LAYERS OF FACT-CHECKERS AND EDITORS at work in Wisconsin.
THE A.P. AND CHELSEA CLINTON, engaging in the same old Kyoto revisionism:
Clinton told about 250 people at N.C. State that her mother, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, would work to repair the nation’s reputation abroad.
“I think the world will breathe a sigh of relief when this president is gone,” Clinton said, criticizing Bush for pulling out of various accordings, including the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.
In fact, this isn’t true:
On July 25, 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized (although it had been fully negotiated, and a penultimate draft was finished), the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95â€“0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98), which stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations or “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States”. On November 12, 1998, Vice President Al Gore symbolically signed the protocol. Both Gore and Senator Joseph Lieberman indicated that the protocol would not be acted upon in the Senate until there was participation by the developing nations. The Clinton Administration never submitted the protocol to the Senate for ratification.
THOSE LAYERS OF FACT-CHECKERS AND EDITORS AT WORK: “Maxim magazine has apologized for publishing a negative review of the Black Crowes’ new album by a writer who hadn’t listened to the whole CD. . . . A spokeswoman for the magazine contacted by The Associated Press declined to say whether the writer would face disciplinary action.” (Via Daring Fireball).
HOWARD KURTZ ON CNN AND THE PLANTS: Nice that he’s covering it. But Kurtz reports it in a way that gives a false impression about yours truly:
Conservative bloggers, some of whom deride CNN as the “Clinton News Network,” ripped the network yesterday. At Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds wrote: “Once again, CNN demonstrates an inexplicable failure to background-check pro-Hillary questioners.” Scott Johnson of PowerLine wrote that “CNN has shown itself unable or unwilling to act as an honest broker.” James Joyner, at Outside the Beltway, said: “If lone bloggers can vet these people in less than half an hour, surely CNN’s crack journalistic team should have been able to do so between the time they selected the pool of questions and the airing of the debate?”
I’ve never called CNN the “Clinton News Network.” (I’m not even a “conservative blogger” except in the sense that I’ve supported the war, but nowadays that’s all “conservative” means to most people). And there’s a bigger problem.
CNN’s problem isn’t just bias — it’s a failure of professionalism. Frankly, if bloggers ran some sort of event and were infiltrated in this fashion, the usual media-ethics suspects would be tugging their beards about blogger irresponsibility and praising the superior layers of editors and fact-checkers at Big Media outfits like . . . CNN.
But we learn that CNN did use Google:
He said CNN never spoke to Kerr and had Google, which owns YouTube, bring the retired general and about a dozen other questioners to the debate because their videos were likely to be used, although no final decision had been made.
Using Google for plane tickets is okay. But next time, try using them for . . . Googling. As a commenter at Kurtz’s observes: “What should be noted about this issue is that CNN probably has a whole army of interns and low-level producers who could vet the possible questioners. They ‘could spend hours Googling everybody’, while the top level hacks concentrated on choosing the ‘best’ questions.”
Meanwhile, I’ll just repeat what I said earlier: If Fox hosted a Democratic debate and many of the most pointed questions turned out to come from Republican activists, but Fox didn’t disclose that, do you think it would pass unremarked?
UPDATE: Roger Simon comments: The Presidential Debates are a National Joke.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Good grief.
MORE: Another line from Kurtz’s comments:
So let me get this straight… in the Democrat YouTube debates, the “undecided questioners” are Democratic activists and in the Republican YouTube debates, the “undecided questioners” are Democratic activists.
Well, at least they’re consistent.
Heh. Indeed. And a couple of readers note that the media is sometimes more fastidious about who’s asking the questions.
STILL MORE: “Because of the irony.”
THOSE LAYERS OF EDITORS AND FACT-CHECKERS fail again: “A former consultant to ABC’s investigative unit admitted yesterday that he put his name on a purported interview with Barack Obama that he never conducted.”
And there’s more here: “The French Defense Ministry on Friday debunked the credentials of a former ABC News consultant who claimed to have worked as an adviser to the ministry, saying the man was just an intern for five months.”
MICKEY KAUS MATH-CHECKS THE NEW YORK TIMES: Shockingly, when 2700 dealers sell a car at about half the rate of 440 dealers, the 2700 dealers still sell more cars! Go figure!
No, really — go do the figures next time. Because apparently those layers of editors and fact-checkers don’t do math either.
POTATOE: Heh. It’s all those layers of editors and fact-checkers who make it really special.
WE’RE STARTING TO SEE SOME MEDIA PUSHBACK on the Jamil Hussein story and on criticisms of media reporting from Iraq in general — Howard Kurtz has a roundup. But I think the media’s self-justification misses the point. Just because things are bad in Iraq doesn’t justify false reports using phony sources, something that the AP’s defenders seem to be suggesting. “Fake but accurate” isn’t a standard to be raising, is it? The fact is that we’ve seen a massive institutional failure on the part of the media.
Here’s what I said nearly three years ago that still seems about right:
HERE’S A LETTER TO THE EDITOR from a recently returned Iraq vet. Like many other such letters, it says that thngs are much better there than media reports suggest.
I tend to believe that — things are better almost everywhere (except Cuba) than media reports suggest., But as I’ve said before, the biggest problem with the Iraq reporting isn’t that it’s too negative, though it is, it’s that it doesn’t tell us what we need to know. The CERP issue, for example, was probably the most important single thing going on last summer/fall but it got very little attention from the media. Likewise, the big media were slow to follow up on Zeyad’s war-crime scoop. And I ran an email regarding problems at the CPA that haven’t been addressed by big media much, but that are quite important if they’re as bad as my reader suggests.
Despite last week’s hysteria, which made factional fighting — ugly but limited — out to be a massive popular uprising, it’s clear that the real issues in Iraq are political, not military. Is our government doing a good job? It’s hard to tell. And the tendency, knowing that the media are overplaying some negatives, is to apply Kentucky windage and assume that things in general are better than they say. This may be true, but it may also be true (as the above examples suggest, and as I’ve noted before on multiple occasions) that there’s not just good news, but bad news, going unreported.
That’s especially unfortunate, because good reporting doesn’t just inform ordinary folks like us. It’s also a check on reports that flow up within the chain of command, making sure that real problems get noticed and not papered over. I’m afraid that the White House, understandably tired of the unrelenting negativity that has given us the Brutal Afghan Winter of 2002, the Invasion-Killing Sandstorm of 2003, and the Mass Popular Uprising of 2004, may have started tuning out negative reports.
I think that’s bad, but given that there are good reasons (like, you know, open admissions) to suspect an agenda in media reporting on Iraq, it was an understandable factor. Journalists like to assume a quasi-official status with all their “fourth estate” talk, but they haven’t done a very good job of living up to the responsibilities that implies. “Fake but accurate” claims won’t help them.
UPDATE: Reader C.J. Burch emails: “I think at this point the question is, is the media, consciously or no, designing its coverage to make a bad situation appear worse? I also think that’s a question the media, all of it, is desperately trying to avoid. Because they know the answer.”
And Ron Wright emails: “OK life is difficult for everyone in Iraq. However the bottom line is folks need to get the facts straight. Either we have charred bodies and six burned mosques or we don’t. ”
Jamil Hussein says we do. But the AP can’t seem to produce him. So I’m guessing the answer is “we don’t.” Does that mean things are going well for the war? Nope. It just means that they’re going badly at the AP. As Burch suggests, that’s a distinction the AP and its defenders want us to ignore.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More on Jamil Hussein here.
MORE: It’s bad to push back at bloggers by misquoting them.
STILL MORE: Heh: It’s those layers of editors and fact-checkers again! “Our co-blogger Major Leggett sends this story about his unit, from the LA Times. He’s quoted in the article, which you wouldn’t know from the article itself — since he is identified as ‘Maj. Joel Garrett.'”
CHINESE ASTRONAUTS WITH A JAPANESE FLAG: CBS News’ layers of professional editors and fact-checkers seem to have dropped the ball.
UPDATE: John Kreiser of CBS emails: “Thanks for pointing out that we had the wrong flag on the story about China planning its moon mission. We goofed; we’ve fixed it.”
That’s the way to do things.
JUST BACK FROM IRAQ, Bill Roggio responds to a Washington Post article by Jonathan Finer and Doug Struck. Excerpt:
There are three problems with this article which require a response: the use of incorrect facts which could have been easily checked; the portrayal of my embed as an information operation; and equating U.S. military information operations with al-Qaeda propaganda efforts.
Read the whole thing. I hope the Post will run a response and correct the errors.
Bill Quick, meanwhile, says the Post reporters are afraid of competition.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The Post is accused of engaging in a FUD campaign. “This is fascinating stuff because the production of FUD is a sign of an organization whose product is facing a competitive threat that it can’t beat head to head.”
Meanwhile, another freelancer who covered Iraq on his own initiative, J.D. Johannes, weighs in, too.
And Mark Tapscott writes that this will be a test for the Post in terms of handling major errors regarding the blogosphere. He also wonders how the mistakes that Roggio outlines made it past all those layers of editors and fact-checkers we hear about.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The Belmont Club has more thoughts.
And Ed Morrissey writes: “I have to express some disappointment with the Post in this instance.”
MORE: Dymphna has further thoughts, though I don’t endorse her John-Lennon-inspired vision.
As Ed Morrissey notes, in general the WP has been much fairer than most American outlets. I’m a bit surprised by this, and I hope they’ll make it right.