I recently caught the L.A. Times erroneously claiming that there was “no recorded basis” for John McCain’s claim that Barack Obama launched his political career in Bill Ayers’s living room. Regardless of whether you think the claim is a) true or b) politically significant, it’s quite clear that there is a “recorded basis” for the claim — namely, a blog post by a liberal who was there in that living room, who said:
When I first met Barack Obama, he was giving a standard, innocuous little talk in the livingroom of those two legends-in-their-own-minds, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. They were launching him–introducing him to the Hyde Park community as the best thing since sliced bread.
Although the blogger has since tried to send this evidence Down the Memory Hole, she failed quite badly on several levels, and the evidence lives on. The L.A. Times, seemingly, was caught. Democrat Mickey Kaus said:
Patterico embarrasses the L.A. Times yet again.
Well, evidently the editors aren’t capable of embarrassment. Because if the following e-mail from the paper’s “Readers’ Representative” is any indication, the editors don’t think they said anything wrong:
Thanks for your note, which we passed along to editors in the editorial department.
You sought correction on this passage:
And then, returning to Ayers, McCain alleged that Obama launched his political career in the former Weatherman’s living room, an assertion for which there is no recorded basis.
I understand that support for your request was a post in which someone described Obama’s appearance in Ayers’ house and said that he was “launching” his career.
Here’s what the editors say: News reports reconstructing Obama’s campaign that year suggest that the poster was incorrect in claiming that the coffee at Ayers’ home ‘launched’ Obama’s career. Accounts differ, but what editors find suggests that Obama held a number of informal coffees that fall, and that he had made clear his intention to run before his appearance at Ayers’ house.
As such, the comments by the poster may reflect that person’s impression – or misimpression – but they are not something on which the Times would base a correction.
Look: this isn’t hard.
The editors said there was “no recorded basis” for McCain’s claim. There was.
Now they say that while “[a]ccounts differ,” they simply disagree with the existent “recorded basis” for the claim. Ergo, it was correct to claim that this “recorded basis” never existed.
In other words: if I disagree with you, its not just that you’re wrong. It’s that what you said never even happened.
Words mean things. You might think that newspaper editors would know that.
You might think that newspaper editors don’t want to mislead readers on the facts.
You would be wrong. They care more about their reputations than the facts. Period.
Another piece of history disappears Down the Memory Hole — aided and abetted by the Los Angeles Times.