Patterico's Pontifications

1/12/2005

L.A. Times Editors: “But for the Grace of God, Our Misrepresentations Might Be Discovered As Well . . .”

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 9:38 pm

The Thornburgh Memogate report proves that, in several instances, CBS misrepresented information it already knew, and knowingly broadcast false and misleading statements to its viewers. To take just a few examples (and there are many more):

The fact is that basic journalistic steps were not carried out in a manner consistent with accurate and fair reporting, leading to countless misstatements and omissions in the reporting by ’60 Minutes Wednesday’ and CBS News. (p. 28)

. . . .

[P]ortions of the Segment were neither fair nor accurate given the facts that were known or should have been known to Mapes, her team, and/or others at 60 Minutes Wednesday at the time the Segment was aired. (p. 127)

. . . .

For 60 Minutes Wednesday to say that Matley believed the “material” was authentic was to suggest that Matley had authenticated all four of the documents used on the Segment. The Panel believes that this was not fair and accurate reporting. (p. 127)

. . . .

The Panel finds that virtually every excerpt used from the Lieutenant Strong interview was either inaccurate or misleading. (p. 127)

. . . .

[Section heading:] The Ben Barnes Interview Excerpts Were Misleading (p. 130)

. . . .

In sum, the Panel finds that the inaccuracies and misleading statements and sound bites contained in the final Segment that aired on September 8 resulted from failures at every level. (p. 132)

. . . .

The Panel finds the use of the word “real” in Rather’s lead in on the September 10 report to have been misleading and inconsistent with CBS News’ basic commitment to fair and accurate reporting. (p. 170)

. . . .

[In representing Lieutenant Strong's view of the documents,] [a]gain, the term “real” was used when referring to the documents, which was inaccurate since Lieutenant Strong never stated that he believed the documents were real. This was all the more misleading in this instance because . . . Lieutenant Strong had no personal knowledge of Lieutenant Colonel Killian’s views about Lieutenant Bush beyond what he had read in the Killian documents. (p. 171)

. . . .

[T]he assertion [in a September 11 follow-up segment] that the documents had been authenticated by outside experts . . . was at best misleading and at worst false. (p. 180)

. . . .

In short, the Panel believes that the September 13 CBS Evening News report was misleading and added virtually nothing to a search for the truth as to the accuracy of the September 8 Segment. (p. 185)

Looking at this train wreck, I would think that any fair journalist would think: that’s what you get when you repeatedly lie, distort, and misrepresent the facts.

So I find it interesting that the L.A. Times says in this morning’s editorial on the scandal:

[A]ny news organization that comments on the CBS News investigation without thinking, “There but for the grace of God . . .” should probably be in another business.

My view?

Journalists who engage in such a systematic misrepresentation of the facts known to them should definitely be in another business.

Memo to L.A. Times editors: if you are thinking “There but for the grace of God . . .” then you either don’t understand CBS’s worst transgression (lying about facts known to its journalists) — or you suspect you may be guilty of the same thing, and are worried about getting caught.

You have good reason to be worried, whether you realize it or not. If it is a serious journalistic sin to deliberately mislead your readers about facts, after you have been put on notice of those facts, then this is a sin you have committed many times over. For proof of this harsh accusation, I refer you to the numerous examples collected in my posts reviewing your paper’s performance in 2003 (here) and 2004 (here and here).

The example of CBS shows that a news organization may be able to get away with repeatedly lying to its viewers or readers — even for a period of years — but there’s always the chance that, sooner or later, it will catch up with you.

And when it does, there may be hell to pay.

Kristof: U.S. Should Be More Like China on Infant Mortality

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 6:37 am

Captain Ed fact-checks Nick Kristof here. He catches Kristof telling some stunningly misleading half-truths about infant mortality rates.

For example, Kristof actually compares the U.S. unfavorably with China on this issue:

As readers know, I complain regularly about the Chinese government’s brutality in imprisoning dissidents, Christians and, lately, Zhao Yan, a New York Times colleague in Beijing. Yet for all their ruthlessness, China’s dictators have managed to drive down the infant mortality rate in Beijing to 4.6 per thousand; in contrast, New York City’s rate is 6.5.

In order to pull off this comparison, Captain Ed notes, Kristof conveniently ignores the astronomical infant mortality rate of China as a whole: 25.28 deaths per thousand. Also, Kristof breathes not a word about the country’s forced abortion policy. As Captain Ed says:

The notion of using China as an example of child care is so noxious that it almost defies description. It equates to using Juan Corona as a poster child for supporting migrant workers, or Richard Speck as a spokesman for a nurse’s union.

I’d be fascinated to know Kristof’s reaction. I’m interested enough that I have sent him a link to Captain Ed’s article, asking for his response.


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