L.A. Times Writer Botches Palin Prayer, Follows Gibson’s Example and Sends the Embarrassing Passage Down the Memory Hole
Tom Maguire quotes the L.A. Times‘s Mary McNamara as follows:
Gibson’s probing of a videotaped claim that the Iraq war is a task from God led to a rather convoluted explanation – that it was really a paraphrase of an Abraham Lincoln quote that seemed, frankly, utterly dissimilar.
“Frankly,” McNamara ought to read her own paper, which said in a news article covering the interview:
A video shows Palin asking a group to pray that the nation’s leaders were sending troops to Iraq “on a task that is from God.”
Gibson, however, mischaracterized her as simply asserting that the nation’s leaders were sending troops to Iraq on a task from God.
Wow. Pretty embarrassing for McNamara, at first glance. It sure looked like there was no “claim that the Iraq war is a task from God” on Palin’s part, as McNamara had claimed.
But I didn’t fire off an angry e-mail. A conscientious watchdog wants to see the source material before barking. So I toddled on over to the paper’s web site, to read the McNamara column that Maguire linked and see McNamara’s passage in context.
It’s the oddest thing, though. The passage is not there.
I read McNamara’s entire column three times, looking for it. I rubbed my eyes. I went back to Maguire’s post and checked the link to make sure I had it right. I went back to McNamara’s column, hit ctrl-f, and put in words from the passage Maguire had quoted, searching for them in McNamara’s column.
Nothing worked. It’s gone.
Did Maguire make up this passage out of whole cloth? Somehow, I doubt it. But I have an e-mail in to him to ask.
Or did McNamara subsequently learn that she had botched the analysis, and send that passage down the memory hole — whisking it away without even so much as a note to tell us it had been there?
At the risk of seeming hasty, I’m going with option 2. [UPDATE: And I was right. The screencap proving it is here. Thanks to Karl.]
I guess Mary McNamara figured, if sending embarrassing parts of your journalistic handiwork down the memory hole is good enough for Charlie Gibson and ABC, it’s good enough for her.
Picky postscripts tucked in the extended entry.
P.S. When you read a piece three times, you notice things. Like, for instance:
“. . . though in fine political style she managed avoid to more questions than she answered . . .”
“She seemed willing to concede that human activity may be contribuing somewhat to the effects of global warming . . .”
“Since when it is OK that the American people have to wait in breathless anticipation for its nominated candidates to speak to them en masse?” Come on, Mary. Singular or plural? Make up your mind!
“In a world that is measured by milliseconds . . .” Is it really “by” milliseconds and not “in”?
(I could go on, actually, but I’ve already gotten too picky.)
This might seem a bit rich coming from a guy who turns over space to typo-prone guest-blogger WLS, but I commend this whole “reading things three times” practice to L.A. Times editors. Try it. It works.
P.P.S. A complaint about typos in a blog post screams for readers to pick over the post for mistakes. And I read this over only once before publishing. So have at it.