Patterico's Pontifications

5/7/2005

Terry Neal Responds to the Criticism of His Sloppy Column on Judicial Filibusters

Filed under: Judiciary,Media Bias — Patterico @ 11:04 pm

The other day I told you that Washington Post staffer Terry Neal had written:

Eleven years ago, when Republicans were still in the minority, Sen. Orin [sic] Hatch (R-Utah) said the filibuster tool should be used because “the minority has to protect itself and those the minority represents.”

This is not true. Hugh Hewitt caught it, and whacked Neal good.

Today Neal responded to Hugh and to the Power Line folks, who had also written about his deceptive column. Neal’s explanation begins:

In my original text, I simply wrote that Hatch had noted that [the] filibuster could be used by the minority to protect the interests of those the minority represents. In editing, the world “should” was added, and I didn’t do my due diligence to catch it before publication.

You gotta love that. Editors didn’t check the context of the quote, or catch the misspelling of a prominent Senator’s name — but they did change a “could” to a “should,” converting a somewhat misleading statement into a highly misleading one.

Neal goes on to defend his column and position. It’s too annoying to reproduce here; you can go to Power Line if you want to read the whole thing. But there are two points that are worth highlighting.

The first is that Neal stubbornly and wrongly maintains that Hatch was being a hypocrite:

The larger point, and the one I was really trying to make, is that even though Hatch was clearly not supporting the filibuster in this particular instance, he was making the point that [the] filibuster is something that could be used for a legitimate purpose. Today he argues that it is unconstitutional.

This is refuted well by Hugh Hewitt:

Look, this just isn’t correct, so Terry Neal’s “larger point” is wrong, and Mr. Neal should know this. Hatch is arguing that that the filibuster has never been appropriately used against judicial nominees, and Hatch has never argued that the legislative filibuster is unconstitutional. Here is one of many examples of Hatch making his views known. It was obtained by googling “Orrin Hatch and filibuster.” I think Terry Neal should do an interview with Orrin Hatch if he doesn’t want to do the work of discovering what Hatch has actually said on the subject, but it compounds Neal’s original error to assert, in a column or an e-mail that “[t]oday [Hatch] argues that it is unconstitutional.”

Second, Hatch’s original point, in his speech that Neal didn’t bother to read, was that the Democrats had held unnecessary cloture votes to manufacture the phony image that Republicans were filibustering, when they really weren’t. Neal has fallen for that tactic hook, line, and sinker — by saying that “many Republicans, including Bill Frist, voted against cloture in attempted filibusters of Clinton nominees in the ’90s.” That’s just wrong. Not every cloture vote indicates that a real filibuster is taking place. But it’s what the Democrats want Neal to think.

Terry, if you want to understand the difference between cloture votes and filibusters, Sen. Hatch explained it pretty well. You should have read the speech before, when you quoted from it in your column. Why don’t you go ahead and read it now? I’ll make it really easy for you: just click on this link.

The New York Times‘s Adam Cohen Lectures Bloggers — and Makes a Few Seemingly Unsupportable Claims of His Own in the Process

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 10:03 pm

The New York Times will be printing this tomorrow, so it must be true:

[Dan] Rather’s and [Eason] Jordan’s misdeeds would most likely not have landed them in trouble in the world of bloggers, where few rules apply. Many bloggers make little effort to check their information, and think nothing of posting a personal attack without calling the target first – or calling the target at all. They rarely have procedures for running a correction. The wall between their editorial content and advertising is often nonexistent. (Wonkette, a witty and well-read Washington blog, posts a weekly shout-out inside its editorial text to its advertisers, including partisan ones like Democrats.org.) And bloggers rarely disclose whether they are receiving money from the people or causes they write about.

Adam Cohen, the author of the piece, probably has no factual support for these statements. But we would never criticize him without first giving him the chance to respond, right? So I drafted up the following e-mail to send to him:

Dear Mr. Cohen:

What is your factual support for your statement that bloggers “rarely have procedures for running a correction”? What is your factual support for your statement that “bloggers rarely disclose whether they are receiving money from the people or causes they write about”?

There are a lot of blogs out there, and the ones I read generally have procedures for running a correction — and I don’t know of any support for the concept that bloggers fail to disclose financial conflicts of interest at a greater rate than journalists.

But you obviously know better. Since you are a representative of the Biggest of Big Media, I am certain that you verified these “facts” about bloggers before printing them. And I’d like to know what your factual support for these statements is.

You have made generalized claims about all bloggers in this piece, saying they “rarely” do certain things that you claim Big Media does. Accordingly, I certainly hope your support for these assertions is more solid than citing one or two examples of blogs that have these flaws. I am sure I don’t have to tell you that an anecdote or two is not support for what an entire group of people “rarely” does or does not do.

Were it otherwise, I would be equally justified in citing the examples of one or two Big Media folks (including a former employee of your very paper) as support for this statement:

Journalists rarely visit the places they claim to have visited. Many take money from people they write about and fail to disclose it. And, more often then not, they manufacture their facts out of whole cloth.

Based on your piece, I am tempted to make that last claim about you, since I doubt you have any support for these claims whatsoever. But I could be wrong — so I am giving you the opportunity to respond first before I make that accusation. I will be happy to print any response in the post that I plan to run.

I assume you admit that it would be ironic indeed if you made factually unsupported statements in a screed about bloggers’ failure to do the same.

By the way, I plan to publish my post tomorrow evening, so do please try to respond by then.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to send this e-mail to Mr. Cohen directly. You see, he has not seen fit to include his e-mail address among those made public by the New York Times. So I had to settle for sending the e-mail to Dan Okrent. I asked Mr. Okrent to forward the e-mail to Cohen, or alternatively, to respond to my concerns himself.

As always, I will report any response in full. Incidentally, that kind of full and fair opportunity to have your entire response printed “rarely” happens in Big Media. But we bloggers do it all the time. What about that, Mr. Cohen?

Backwards Music

Filed under: Humor,Music — Patterico @ 3:33 pm

Mrs. P. found this site this morning, and it’s pretty cool. It’s a collection of portions of songs that supposedly have messages when you play them backwards, together with “lyrics” of what is supposedly being said.

The only one that clearly contains a correctly transcribed hidden backwards message is “Empty Spaces” by Pink Floyd. The second most convincing one is the Beatles song, which (played forwards) clearly sounds like a backwards message — but I’m not sure it says what the site claims it says when you play it backwards. Some of them (like the Queen song) don’t sound anything like the alleged lyrics.

Still, a fun time-waster.

Most interesting omission: the Mr. Ed theme song. Howard Stern once played that backwards and proved that it says “someone sang this song for Satan” and “the source is the Devil.” Probably just coincidence, but it really does sound like it.

P.S. This all reminds me of when I concocted a plan to torture a highly religious friend by learning to say certain phrases backwards.

Some background: my friend is highly Catholic and believes in demonic possession and exorcism. Really believes in it. For example: I was in his apartment once and was debating the issue with him, and I tried to prove how ridiculous that belief was, by inviting the Devil to possess me at that moment. “If you’re there, Satan, possess me now! I am inviting you to do it right now!” My friend freaked out and ordered me out of his apartment.

That’s the background. So, I learned to say “I worship Satan” and “I worship the Devil” backwards, using the Windows sound recorder, so that I could freak him out again (just like I had by inviting the Devil to possess my body).

My plan was to just all of a sudden blurt out these phrases, watch my friend’s eyes bug out, and then explain that I didn’t know what made me say that. I planned to say: wow, it’s like I was possessed. It sure does sound like a backwards message, huh? Well, then, why don’t we play it into the Windows sound recorder and play it backwards and see if it means anything? Then, when we did it, he would hear the devil-worshipping phrases and have a heart attack.

Yeah, I’m a jerk sometimes.

But it didn’t work. I couldn’t keep a straight face.

Denver Papers Hide Alleged Existence of Satellite Recording

Filed under: Dog Trainer,International,Media Bias — Patterico @ 12:35 pm

Apparently the L.A. Times is not the only paper to hide the alleged existence of a satellite recording of the Sgrena/Calipari shooting. Dave Kopel writes:

Both the Rocky Mountain News and the Post have run many stories on Giuliana Sgrena, the Italian Communist journalist whose automobile was fired on by American soldiers on March 3, killing her driver, as the car was speeding past an American checkpoint.

Sgrena had just been released from captivity by Iraqi terrorists at the time of the incident.

As reported by CBS News on April 28 and by Agence France-Presse the next day, U.S. satellite photos show the Sgrena’s vehicle was traveling at 60 mph – although she has asserted that car was going only 30 mph. Unfortunately, neither Denver paper has reported this important fact in their recent Sgrena stories, even though her false statement casts serious doubt on the vehemently anti-American Sgrena’s claims about the rest of the incident.

I’m sure that there are other papers that failed to report this fact as well . . .

Meanwhile, still no word from the “Readers’ Representative” in response to my query about the matter, though it has been almost a week.

Day By Day Nails It Again

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 12:12 pm

Excellent “Day By Day” cartoon:

Probably the second best ever, after this one.

P.S. The reference in the latest cartoon is to this post.


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