Patterico's Pontifications


Howie Kurtz: The Dan Interviewed Burkett

Filed under: 2004 Election — Patterico @ 9:35 pm

The article is here.

Smoking Gun Emerges on Three Strikes Initiative

Filed under: No on 66 — Patterico @ 9:12 pm

Proponents of Proposition 66, the initiative to gut the Three Strikes Law, are not telling you the truth about what they hope the initiative will do.

Proponents of the initiative have consistently promised that the law will release only third-strikers serving a life term for nonviolent offenses — about 4,000 felons, all told. Initiative opponents counter that the law will also release approximately 22,000 “second-strikers” incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, making a total of approximately 26,000 felons who will be prematurely released under the law.

Supporters of the initiative have bitterly contested the argument that the law provides for the resentencing of 22,000 second-strikers. Indeed, in court disputes over ballot language, initiative proponents have told the courts that it is a lie for the initiative’s opponents to say that second-strikers will be released pursuant to the initiative.

But it was revealed today that, once the law is passed, proponents intend to argue for the release of the 22,000 second-strikers, on the grounds that the voters intended to release second-strikers. The author of the initial draft of the legislation, who is also the head of the group “Yes on 66,” has made it the group’s “major mission” to “influence the debate so that when Proposition 66 is adjudicated—should it pass—a judge might rule that including second-strikers was the voters’ intent.”

In other words, the proponents of Proposition 66 are lying to you.

Here are the details:

Quote of the Day

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 5:22 pm

The honor goes to Hugh Hewitt for this observation:

I have forgotten hamburger patties on a hot barbeque grill for hours that were less done than Dan Rather . . . .

I’m not completely sure, but I think Hugh is trying to say that Dan Rather is done.

Leftists Still in Denial Over CBS Forgeries

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 3:17 pm

Orcinus and TalkLeft are still in denial about the CBS documents. TalkLeft even says:

David Neiwert of Orcinus points out no one has actually determined the CBS documents to be fakes.

I’m sure that’s news to Joseph M. Newcomer and Thomas Phinney.

Not too surprising — don’t forget: TalkLeft still thinks O.J. is innocent. (Or at least, she has “never been convinced that O.J. killed his wife or asked anyone else to kill his wife.” If that’s different.)

UPDATE: What are you going to believe — the leftists, or your lying eyes?

Defender of Big Media Employs Annoying Tactics of Big Media

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 2:50 pm

This morning, the L.A. Times runs an op-ed on bloggers and the CBS document scandal, titled Bloggers’ ‘Moment’ Doesn’t Make for a Revolution.

The author of the piece, Ben Wasserstein, is a perfect representative of Big Media. His piece is a shining example of what endears Big Media to its critics: misrepresentation of others’ views, and an unswerving allegiance to a pack mentality.

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 9:23 am

Today is Talk Like A Pirate Day. I’m not really intending to write all my posts in pirate talk; sorry. I can talk like the pirate on The Simpsons, but that’s about as far as it goes. (“‘Tis no man. ‘Tis a remorseless eatin’ machine.”) Still thought it was worth noting. Er . . . matey.

Journalistic Ethics and Forged Documents

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 8:45 am

I would like to throw open a question to any journalists who may be reading. There has been some discussion, recently raised by Mark Steyn, regarding whether journalists have a duty to protect a source who has given them forged documents. Steyn asserts that

once they [CBS representatives] admit the documents are fake, they can no longer claim ”journalistic ethics” as an excuse to protect their source.

I am not an expert on journalistic ethics, but my guess, which may surprise conservatives, is that Steyn is wrong. I think it would take a lot to justify burning a source — probably more than we have here. [UPDATE 9-21-04: we now have more facts. Burning Burkett is fine with me, because he admittedly misled CBS.]

Even if it is proven that a source has given you forged documents, how do you know that your source forged the documents — or even knew that they were forged? And if you don’t know that, then isn’t it inconsistent with journalistic ethics to reveal the source?

I would think the answer would be different if there were incontrovertible proof that your source knew the documents were forged — especially if he forged them himself. But in that case, we would have independent evidence of the source’s identity. So why would we need the journalist to tell us who it was?

I would like to hear from journalists on this issue to see if I am right.

UPDATE: Mark Glaser of Online Journalism Review writes with this opinion, which he has authorized me to post with attribution:

Hi Patrick,

I don’t think there’s a cut-and-dried ethics answer to your question. In most cases, reporters will not give up their sources because it will make it nearly impossible for sources to come to them with trust in the future.

However, if the source is someone in an unusual position of power (Kerry’s campaign manager, for example), then that story itself might outweigh the “keep sources secret” decree. It’s a tough call and it is hard to tell someone like Dan Rather that he has to give up his source because the papers *might* be a forgery. If there was definitive proof they were indeed forgeries then he would have to come out and say he was duped — but not necessarily give up his source.

Why such a focus on the source?

I think the answer to that question is inherent in the answer: we are all wondering if the source might be connected to the Kerry campaign.

And Matthew Hoy has his own contrary opinion, expressed in this post.

I am interested and surprised by Mark’s answer, which I reprinted in its entirety. I wouldn’t have thought that the identity of a source could possibly be ethically revealed simply because it’s a big story. If I were a journalist, I would not operate that way; I would go on the principles enunciated in my post — my sources stay secret unless they have unquestionably defrauded me, and I’d better be damn certain of that.

UPDATE x2: Dan Gillmor appears to agree with Matthew Hoy: CBS must reveal its sources. Once again, I am surprised. Again, do we know that any remaining unnamed sources were actually in on the hoax??

UPDATE x3: Kevin Roderick says fraudulent sources don’t deserve anonymity.

For the record, I agree with that. Kevin’s post shows that I haven’t been clear enough about my own position, which is best expressed by Dean Esmay in my comments:

You promise a source anonymity, you keep that promise unless you are certain the source intentionally set you up, willingly perpetrated a fraud on you.

But I continue to disagree with Steyn’s assertion that “once they [CBS representatives] admit the documents are fake, they can no longer claim ”journalistic ethics’ as an excuse to protect their source.”

My point was that the fact that a source gives you forged documents does not, without more, tell you that the source willingly perpetrated a fraud. The source could have been an innocent conduit, in which case the promise of anonymity should be kept. This is a subtlety that I believe many have overlooked in the debate.

I wonder what people think of Xrlq’s suggestion in the comments: once it’s clear it’s a fraud, then your source must name his source, or he becomes part of the fraud, and is subject to his identity being disclosed.

From what we know now, I have no problem if CBS burned Burkett. He has admitted to misleading CBS. So this is a theoretical discussion. (Or is it? It appears there may be another CBS source out there.)

Yeah, It’s Burkett, All Right

Filed under: 2004 Election — Patterico @ 8:29 am

More evidence against Bill Burkett from Newsweek:

Intense scrutiny has centered on the role of William Burkett, a former National Guard official who charged last February that he saw Bush Guard documents in a trash can in 1997—an allegation that Guard officials strongly denied. A source who worked with CBS on the story said Burkett was identified by a producer as a conduit for the documents. Three days before the broadcast, Burkett e-mailed a friend that there was “a real heavy situation regarding Bush’s records” about to break. “He was having a lot of fun with this,” said the friend, Dennis Adams. Burkett told a visitor that after the story ran, Rather phoned him and expressed his and the network’s “full support.”

I think we’re at the point where there’s no longer much doubt about this.

(Via PrestoPundit.)

UPDATE: Captain Ed has further thoughts.

France Behind Forged Niger Documents

Filed under: Terrorism — Patterico @ 1:33 am

On September 5, this blog passed along the news that Italy was blaming France for the forged Niger documents. This story now appears to be confirmed:

The Italian businessman at the centre of a furious row between France and Italy over whose intelligence service was to blame for bogus documents suggesting Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy material for nuclear bombs has admitted that he was in the pay of France.

(Via Captain Ed.)

In unrelated news, CBS News is reporting that new documents from an “unimpeachable source” show that Saddam Hussein sought to buy nuclear material from Niger for the purpose of making nuclear bombs.

Rivenburg Skewers CBS News

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 1:25 am

L.A. Times funnyman Roy Rivenburg reports:

On the heels of Dan Rather’s disputed report about 1970s memos that criticized President Bush’s National Guard service, CBS plans to air several other investigations based on newly discovered documents.

For example:

The JFK assassination: Rather reveals startling evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald met with CIA agents two days before shooting President Kennedy in Dallas. “It’s all here on Oswald’s Palm Pilot,” Rather says.


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