Patterico's Pontifications

7/10/2007

L.A. Times Explains Missing Passage from Article on Fred Thompson’s Alleged Lobbying for An Abortion Rights Group

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 4:20 pm

The L.A. Times has appended the following paragraph to its online version of the story about Fred Thompson’s lobbying:

An earlier version of this article included a passage in which Judith DeSarno said Fred Thompson reenacted a cowboy death scene from one of his movies. The version of the article that was printed in Saturday’s newspaper replaced the earlier, online version. That newer version omitted the reference, because confirmation of the name of the movie could not be made before the story got reprinted. Based on DeSarno’s account, the scene that she said Thompson reenacted appears to be from “Keep the Change,” a TNT television western that would have been in production around the time of the lunch and dinner that she described.

Somewhere out in that Army of Davids, there must be a David who has seen this movie and can tell us about it.

Here is the Internet Movie Database entry for the movie.

P.S. Interesting that the paper published something online that wasn’t confirmed. Are there different standards for online stories vs. print?

P.P.S. I just posted this at Hot Air, and I’ll reproduce here my thoughts on what it means:

The blogosphere has forced the paper to explain why it whisked away the sentence in question — and that’s a good thing. But the rumors of the death of the story’s credibility were greatly exaggerated.

By the way, I don’t think the story, if true, means that pro-life conservatives should despair at the idea of a Thompson candidacy. All this story means, if it’s true, is that he didn’t feel strongly enough about abortion in 1991 to turn down work for an abortion rights group. That doesn’t mean he agrees with the agenda of abortion rights groups — or that he would appoint bad judges, which is the only relevance of any of this.

Trust me, his judges would be better than Hillary’s.

16 Responses to “L.A. Times Explains Missing Passage from Article on Fred Thompson’s Alleged Lobbying for An Abortion Rights Group”

  1. Hillary’s judges are exactly how Hillary judges…are they not her base.

    Whether Fred looks in his records and finds this luncheon of “what if” conversation or not, it means absolutely nothing to me.

    Winghunter (093151)

  2. Regardless of his personal beliefs about abortion, Thompson strongly believes in federalism, which means that he thinks the states should decide, not the courts or Congress. In that case his personal beliefs are only worth one vote in a statewide election.

    gahrie (de5a83)

  3. As for the standards, I’m assuming your question, “Are there different standards for online stories vs. print?” was facetious. They are the same either way. I don’t know about the specifics in this case, but in general, sometimes with our ever-growing need to post online first and quickly, some things get passed the gatekeepers that eventually get caught later. Having said that, unconfirmed info should never be in any story, online or print.

    Edward (7bebb8)

  4. Great, so now we can add the LA Times to the hit pieces against Thompson. Take a look at these two headlines about Fred Thompson. Keep in mind that these are not editorials: 1) “Will her Face Determine His Future?” by Susan Saulney of the New York Times; and 2) “Thompson lacks substance, but still wows Young Republicans,” By Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press.

    When is this going to stop? I wrote about this nonsense at Copious Dissent.

    Devil's Advocate (166211)

  5. Edward,

    I think Patterico’s question (about standards for online vs print stories) was sincere, and I’m also interested in the answer. The LA Times apparently published a quote here that was based on unverified facts, and the AP did the same thing in Jamilgate. I’m not a journalist but it seems like the standards for online stories are different, and I’d like to know if and how they differ.

    DRJ (31d948)

  6. DRJ,
    There is no difference. The same standards apply. I think the questions over those APs stories are different than if online and print standards are different. All stories need to be verified, but as I said, the 24 news cycle has newspapers putting things online as soon as they have been (sometimes too quickly) edited. Sometimes as more reporting is done throughout the day, what was obvious early becomes questionable later. (Please remember I’m speaking in general, not on Patterico’s example) Questions of bias are different than saying standards are different.

    Edward (7bebb8)

  7. Hillary’s judges would support the goal of her radical abortion base: not only would abortion-on-demand be available at 8 months and 3 weeks, but a 14-year-old could get one, have the government pay for it, and help her hide the mistake from her parents.

    Would Fred appoint better judges than Hillary? Wouldn’t anyone?

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  8. “Thompson lacks substance, but still wows Young Republicans,” By Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press.

    After Kerry, they can say this?

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  9. Who cares about ol’ Fred, anyways?

    I doubt he’ll get into the race with the Iraq fiasco goin’ down the toilet.

    What else could he run on?

    Why don’t you report on another, really important, unchecked fact the L.A. Times published recently? error:

    http://www.pastdeadline.com/2007/07/la-times-in-err.html

    alphie (015011)

  10. You know, not long before this is supposed to have happened that a devout Jew I knew was on a consulting gig for the Southern Baptist Convention. I don’t think either party was bothered by the issue or that anyone involved changed their minds about anything religious.

    When you’re taking on clients, you do have standards on who you won’t work for, but this sort of ideology wouldn’t be one of them, not if you’re a professional.

    Strick (d08086)

  11. Doubtless if Ms. Beckham did, indeed, own a jewel-encrusted vibrator, alphie would vote for it, were it running slightly to the left of Pol Pot. I mean, the difference between stories on vibrators and potential presidential candidates is approching nil!

    I'm Geekier (12dd25)

  12. The key point is that Michael Finnegan’s story is very stark. Only 3 possibilities, each interesting:

    1. Thompson and Sununo are lying in categorically and explicitly denying the lobbying charge.

    2. The “Thompson lobbied Bush 41 for a pro-choice cause” accusers are lying (Judith DiSarno, Michael Barnes, Susan Cohen, Bill Hamilton, Sarah Szanton).

    3. Reporter Finnegan and the LAT are lying by misrepresenting the circumstances (e.g. Thompson consulted with another of the lobbying firm’s employees on how one might lobby about the gag rule, but didn’t himself contact Sununu or other White House staff).

    As Patterico pointed out, the billing records are key. If Thompson and Sununu are lying (#1), they are doing so in a very risky way. If either this very liberal-democrat-friendly lobbying firm or the pro-choice client has decent records from 16 years ago, the accusation, and hence the lies, will be proven.

    On the other hand, if the story has legs without such documentation, scenarios #2 and #3 are relatively risk-free for the liars. They get to float the desired smear of Thompson, even if things end up in he-said-she-said land.

    This contrast inclines me to believe Thompson.

    Not that I care about the substance of the story–good for Thompson if he did lobby against the gag rule. For me, it’s about what is revealed about the ethics and probity of the three groups of players.

    AMac (c822c9)

  13. I am actively involved in the pro-life movement particularly with regard to “futile care” theory. I won’t “despair” if Thompson wins the nomination–I simply won’t vote for him.

    I am involved in pro-life issues because I have a specific worldview which does not accept pragmatism or utiliarianism as a basis for making decisions. To me, those who do have a profoundly disturbing worldview with which I vehemently and ardently disagree. It is the epitome of those worldviews for a lawyer to actively advocate for policy changes which contradict his professed values in my opinion.

    I do not accept the rationale that “lawyers represent all types with whom they disagree”. I may represent a murderer–but it is not because I agree with murder. My agreement is with the transcendent truth that those accused of murder deserve due process. I would certainly not turn around and lobby the State Legislature to legalize murder on behalf of such a client.

    To me it is the height of hypocrisy for Thompson to say he believes in the sanctity of life while aiding those who wish to effect policies antithetical to that. His candidacy is a non-starter to me for that and other reasons.

    Jerri Lynn Ward (9f83e6)

  14. Edward,

    Thanks for your response. It’s always helpful to have your input when the topic turns to journalism.

    Jerri Lynn,

    I applaud your principles and the way you implement them, but I’m confused about your system works in the real world. Extrapolating from your comments, you probably also object to lobbyists and advertising companies who sell their services to objectionable causes. I’m curious about how you decide which causes are objectionable. For instance, would you object if people work for a company that sells medical instruments if those instruments might be used to provide abortions, or is that too tenuous? If so, where and, more important, how do you draw the line?

    DRJ (31d948)

  15. DRJ said

    Extrapolating from your comments, you probably also object to lobbyists and advertising companies who sell their services to objectionable causes.

    If by objectionable, you mean they sell their services to causes that are violative of God’s law–such as supporting policy changes and laws that advocate murder (which I believe abortion to be), yes I would object and refuse to work for them. If it is true that Fred Thompson worked for a pro-abortion group to aid them in affecting policy and or legislation–he was assisting those who do not acknowledge the sanctity of human life in controvention of the values he is trying to convince the public he holds. I draw the line there.

    I wouldn’t object in the same manner to all lobbying and advertising simply because I disagree with the product or cause. I personally object to cigarettes, but would have no problem with people lobbying to protect the property interests of tobacco companies–but, to me, smoking is not a violation of God’s law.

    For instance, would you object if people work for a company that sells medical instruments if those instruments might be used to provide abortions, or is that too tenuous? If so, where and, more important, how do you draw the line?

    No, to me, that’s like blaming gun manufacturers for crimes comitted with guns.

    Jerri Lynn Ward (9f83e6)

  16. Re: Keep the Change.

    I found a tape of this show and skimmed through it yesterday. The show is a modern-day western set in Montana. Fred Thompson plays Otis, a friend of the protagonist, Joe Starling.

    In one of the later scenes, Joe and Otis were riding in a remote area and Otis was thrown after his horse spooked. He landed on a tree stump, suffering a broken back and punctured lungs. Joe went for help but, before he left, Otis and Joe had a last conversation that could reasonably be considered Otis’ death scene because it’s the last time we see him alive.

    DRJ (31d948)


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