Ron Rosenbaum

L.A. Times Weasel-Worded Defense Continues Appearance of Cover-up

So here’s the L.A. Times’ weasel-worded defense of withholding the video.

They promised the source they wouldn’t “release” the video. Okay, why not release a transcript? Or do they no longer have the video, and failed to make a transcript at the time? Would that be a kind of malfeasance, or another result of stupid budget-cutting on the news side of newspapers that undermines the value of the product? Or was the reporter too lazy to make a detailed record of his own? Or was he only given a brief look at the video with no opportunity to make detailed notes?

Did anyone say “transparency”. Why can’t they answer these questions? They can’t allow us into the deep mysteries of how news is made. Did their source say they’re not just not allowed to “release” it (the red herring weasel word here) or demand they couldn’t talk about it any further than what was published.

What kind of agreement is that and if it were made shouldn’t it be disclosed and if it wasn’t why the silence which now sounds as likely to be about the cover up of their own incometence as about what Obama said or didn’t say? Did the dog eat their homework?

It would at least explain things better than this alleged exlanation from today’s statement:

“In reporting on Obama’s presence at the dinner for Khalidi, the article noted that some speakers exressed anger at Israel and at U.S. foreign policy, but Obama in his comments called for finding common ground.”

Did the reporter not take more detailed notes than that? It’s quite possible that an objective viewer might agree with this summary: there was “anger at Israel and at U.S. foreign policy” and Obama spoke out for moderation, “common ground”.

But why can’t the reader be allowed to decide if this extremely mild characterization of the “anger” is accurate and whether Obama’s reaction and remarks were limited to a plea for common ground.

Now that this version of the story has been challenged, why not allow the reporter to defend himself, answer questions about what he heard, if he can’t produce it, or didn’t bother to take detailed notes. Tell us whether you do or don’t have the video, who else saw it. Did the dingbat new management fire so many editors that no one else did? Again, if so, penny-wise, pound- foolish.

This LATimes response, worthy of a Rumsfeld press conference, is exactly the thing that causes people to distrust traditional journalism: even when it may well be accurate, it’s too arrogant to allow itself to be held accountable.