Roger L. Simon

Mainstream Media Needs a Comments Section

If John Hinderaker of Power Line is correct about the AP publicity flak (hard to call him a reporter) who wrote the fiction about the Wisconsin Republican crowd supposedly booing the announcement of President Clinton’s hospitalization, another hefty nail has just been driven in the mainstream media’s already well-battened-down coffin. Hindrocket names names, as well he should:

Our source says that the AP reporter behind the story was Scott Lindlaw. Lindlaw is one of the AP reporters who cover the Bush campaign. His anti-Bush prejudices are well-known; our source has heard him say that his “mission” is to see that Bush is not re-elected.

On the day of the West Allis rally, Lindlaw was wearing ear plugs in his ears, as he often does to minimize crowd noise. After Bush’s speech, he approached another AP reporter and said that he thought he had heard boos, and asked whether his colleague had heard any. The second AP reporter said that she didn’t hear any booing. Nevertheless, Lindlaw apparently sent in a story, which wound up for some unexplained reason under Tom Hays’ byline, which said:

Bush’s audience of thousands in West Allis, Wis., booed. Bush did nothing to stop them.

It’s not exactly Hemingway, but it’s brief and to the point. More importantly, it’s the Associated Press. By now we’re used to the bias of the major newspapers. We even accept it. (How could we otherwise?) But the AP is supposed to be a wire service – “Just the facts, ma’am.” Only this time Joe Friday seems to have taken a vacation – and I’ll wager it’s not the only one.

I am one of those who think the MSM will never recover from this election. And that’s probably a good thing. Let a thousand sources bloom and hopefully we’ll be smart enough to figure out which ones are telling the truth.

But I have a suggestion for the MSM, if they are serious about accuracy. They should open up a comments section at the end of their articles, just as many blogs do. That might shape them up. I have trouble getting away with errors on here for five minutes. Just this morning someone nailed me for confusing “populace” with “populous.” Man, was that embarrassing. I’m supposed to be a professional writer!

UPDATE: If this is true, “60 Minutes” needs a lot more than a comments section.

MORE: Sounds more like a forgery. Details from Hinderaker and Johnson. I will add that I was one of the first to use a computer for screenwriting on a studio lot (that I know of) and that was not until 1980. From a crime writer POV, this is getting very interesting. It’s fascinating how quickly the blogs and the Internet were able to catch this as compared to intelligence agencies which were so slow off the mark with the Niger documents. Once again: advantage blogosphere!

Shame, shame on CBS!

AND: For those who can’t get on LGF yet (it’s slammed), Charles Johnson super-imposed his own handmade MS Word document on top of the supposed 1972-73 original. They are identical. This is indeed a huge embarrassment. We will see how thoroughly the MSM covers this tomorrow. I can promise you one thing — we will.

MORE HERE: It’s time for CBS to confront those who handed them the document to establish provenance.