Patterico's Pontifications

5/1/2005

My Letter to the Readers’ Representative About the L.A. Times‘s Editing of Those Reuters Stories

Filed under: Dog Trainer,International — Patterico @ 10:47 am

Yesterday, I told you how the L.A. Times edited a Reuters story to remove information about a satellite recording, which allegedly proves that the car bearing Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena was speeding towards a U.S. checkpoint.

I told you that I would give The Times until today to report that information — and that, if they failed to do so, I would write the Readers’ Representative to inquire.

Not only has The Times failed to report that information today, it has once again excised a passage relating to the alleged satellite recording.

So, as promised, I have sent the letter. Here it is:

Dear Ms. Gold,

Your paper recently ran two Reuters stories concerning the shooting of the car with Giuliana Sgrena. Each of the Reuters stories contained the following quote:

CBS news has reported that a U.S. satellite had filmed the shooting and that it had been established the car carrying Calipari was traveling at more than 60 mph per hour [sic] as it approached the U.S. checkpoint in Baghdad.

http://reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=8350013

http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=8351887

The L.A. Times reprints of these stories, published April 30, 2005 (“U.S., Italy Fail to Agree on Slaying “), and May 1, 2005 (“Italy to Step Up Inquiry Into Agent’s Death in Iraq”), both omitted the above quote. The L.A. Times versions presented the issue of the car’s speed as a swearing contest between American soldiers, on one hand, and Sgrena and her driver, on the other. No mention of the satellite evidence appeared in the L.A. Times edits:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-nicola30apr30,1,6728628.story

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-italy1may01,1,946622.story

I am curious to know why this was done. The only arguably legitimate reason I can imagine is that L.A. Times editors have reason to doubt the reports about the satellite recording. But, if that’s the case, I would expect them to report the facts supporting their doubts. After all, the story is in wide circulation, with CBS News, Reuters, and AFP all reporting it (albeit all based on the CBS News report). If there is reason to doubt the story, the public should know that.

If the passage was cut for other reasons, the public should know that too. I can’t imagine that it was done for space reasons. Since this incident happened, the L.A. Times has run numerous articles reporting Sgrena’s allegations that the car had been going only 25-30 mph. This is a critical issue in the controversy between Italy and the U.S. over the shooting. Under these circumstances, space can’t be a legitimate reason for omitting the alleged existence of definitive proof that the car was speeding.

I would appreciate it if you would pass along the editors’ reasons for cutting this passage out of the Reuters stories. I will be happy to print any response on my blog. Thanks.

Patrick Frey
Patterico’s Pontifications

http://patterico.com

As always, I will let you know what I hear in response.

UPDATE: I sent a follow-up e-mail:

Re my previous e-mail:

I am also interested to know why, in the first story, editors changed the word “killing” in the first sentence of the Reuters story to the more sinister-sounding word “slaying.”

Patterico
Patterico’s Pontifications

http://patterico.com

Any response(s) will be printed when I receive them.

Sgrena Report Available for Download — Including Classified Information

Filed under: Dog Trainer,International — Patterico @ 8:24 am

What purports to be the report regarding the shooting of the car with Giuliana Sgrena can be downloaded — apparently including confidential information and all! — from a link available at this Slashdot post.

I have been able to skim the unclassified portions, but haven’t figured out the trick the Slashdot people recommend for reading the classified information.

After a quick scan, I don’t see anything about a satellite recording.

Let’s assume that there is nothing in the report about a satellite recording. Could the editors at the L.A. Times have known this? If so, does this mean The Times was right to cut that information out of two separate Reuters reports?

Absolutely not.

First, from the reporting about the satellite recording, it’s not clear to me that its existence (if it does exist) was included in the report. If it wasn’t included, though, that seems quite strange — which leads to my second point: the information about the satellite recording was reported by CBS News, Reuters, and AFP, among others. It is in the public domain. If The Times has information debunking the claim about the satellite recording, it should report it.

Readers, let me know if you’re able to look at the (no longer very) classified portions.

UPDATE: Apparently I’d been reading the “classified” stuff all along. It’s just that portions of it had been redacted.

Via the Angry Clam in the comments, here is a link to an unredacted version that you don’t need to download.

UPDATE x2: I have an analogy for the L.A. Times‘s treatment of this story — giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming that they have doubts about the satellite story. Would it have been right for a right-wing publication to simply ignore the CBS story about President Bush’s National Guard Service? Of course not. If they had doubts about the documents, the right thing to do would be to run the story and express the doubts. But don’t pretend the story isn’t out there. That’s disingenuous.

Frankly, I would be suspicious of any claim that The Times editors did this for sound reasons anyway, because they have ignored so much past evidence of Sgrena’s dishonesty in the past (as documented at Captain’s Quarters).

UPDATE x3: Michelle Malkin explains the significance of the inadvertently released classified information. Heads should roll over this.

It’s No Accident: L.A. Times Editors Have Done It Again

Filed under: Dog Trainer,International — Patterico @ 2:24 am

L.A. Times editors have doubled down. They have yet again suppressed evidence that U.S. soldiers were justified in shooting at the car carrying Giuliana Sgrena to a Baghdad airport.

A Reuters story filed Saturday morning states on page two:

CBS news has reported that a U.S. satellite had filmed the shooting and that it had been established the car carrying Calipari was traveling at more than 60 miles per hour as it approached the U.S. checkpoint in Baghdad.

Today’s L.A. Times reprint of the article edits out that passage, which suggests that there is definitive proof that the car was speeding — a critical issue in the controversy.

Anyone else feeling that sense of déjà vu?

As I told you yesterday, the same exact passage was contained in a Friday Reuters dispatch, and was edited from the L.A. Times reprint of that article in yesterday’s paper.

Today’s edit proves that yesterday’s suppression of this information was no accident. It was part of an ongoing effort to hide this evidence from the paper’s readers. After all, The Times still has not told its readers about this evidence, even though CBS News aired it Thursday night, and it’s now Sunday morning.

As I noted yesterday, the speed of the car is a critical issue, and the paper has run numerous articles trumpeting Sgrena’s allegations that the car was moving slowly. If they’re going to cut anything, this is the last thing they should cut — if they’re interested in the truth.

But it’s the first thing you’d cut if your objective is to make the United States look bad . . .

UPDATE: Welcome to Lucianne readers, and thanks to Lucianne for linking this piece. Make sure to click on yesterday’s post for further background. If you like what you see here, I hope you’ll take a moment to bookmark and blogroll the main page.

UPDATE x2: The report, apparently including classified portions, is now available for download.

UPDATE x3: Thanks to LGF for the link.

UPDATE x4: Thanks to Mickey Kaus for the link.


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