Fat Steve's Blatherings

Sunday, February 13, 2005

More absence of fact-checking, and massive bias

      The New York Times reports on the resignation of Eason Jordan.  In the course of the story, they remark "Mr. Jordan was then challenged by Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who was in the audience."

      Wrong.  Rep. Frank was on the panel with Jordan.  Sen. Chris Dodd was in the audience.  See here.

      Does the Times just not care about accuracy anymore?  Are some stories so upsetting that they can't think straight?

      My guess is that the Times was too pre-occupied by the necessity for spin.  They say:
Ann Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said that 54 journalists were killed in 2003 and 2004 . At least nine died as a result of American fire, she said.

Among Mr. Jordan's responsibilities at CNN was be an advocate - often a forceful one - in discussions with the Pentagon on issues concerning the security of journalists in Iraq.

      Nicely done, Times.  You imply the U.S. military is killing journalists, either deliberately or carelessly.  You also quote only one witness to Jordan's remarks, David Gergen, and not the others who like Abovitz, Frank, and Dodd, who heard Jordan's remarks quite differently.

      The Los Angeles Times has a rather good piece, although they mistake Roger L. Simon for Roger Simon of U.S. News and World Reports, and uncritically accept that the panel was off-the-record (see next paragraph).

      The Washington Post runs a story by Howard Kurtz.  The second paragraph claims:
Jordan was being pounded hourly by bloggers, liberals as well as conservatives, who provided the rocket fuel for a story that otherwise might have fizzled.
Kurtz never mentions the demands for the release of the videotape or a verbatim transcript, though, contenting himself with saying in the fourth paragraph:
No definitive account of what Jordan said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 27 has been made public, including the forum's videotape of the off-the-record session.
In fact, there's some doubt the session was off-the-record originally.  And given Jordan's connections with the WEF (Jordan is on the board of the WEF's subsidiary organization, "The Forum of Young Global Leaders,") it certainly seems likely that the WEF would have given Jordan a tape or transcript, of his remarks at least, if he'd asked for them.  No, the missing transcript/tape is almost down the memory hole.

      Except the blogosphere keeps its own copies, making the memory hole ineffective.  Nor is editing as a way of keeping the lid on working anymore, as Kurtz notes:
As of yesterday, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and USA Today had not carried a staff-written story, and the CBS, NBC and ABC nightly news programs had not reported the matter. It was discussed on several talk shows on Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC but not on CNN.

      In a special 'Let's embarrass ourselves a little more' episode, the Post lets Kurtz say that part of the reason CNN let Jordan go was:
Several CNN staffers say Jordan, who was distraught about the controversy, saw the handwriting on the wall in tendering his resignation. But top executives are also said to have lost patience with the continuing gossip about Jordan, including his affair with Marianne Pearl, widow of the murdered reporter Daniel Pearl, and subsequent marital breakup.
      Then, after letting that out on the internet, they edit it to:
Several CNN staffers say Jordan was eased out by top executives who had lost patience with both the controversy and the continuing published gossip about Jordan's personal life after a marital breakup. Jordan's authority already had been greatly reduced after a management shakeup.

  Apparently, they didn't know the Net would lovingly preserve the original, for example here.

      All in all, a truly bad performance by the Main Stream Media.  How many times will we bloggers have to do this to them before they wake up and adjust to the changing enviornment?



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