As I noted last night, the Washington Post yesterday retracted its claim that the feds are charging James O’Keefe with an attempt to bug Mary Landrieu’s phones:
Earlier versions of this story incorrectly reported that James O’Keefe faced charges in an alleged plot to bug the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu. The charges were related to an alleged plot to tamper with a phone system. The headline incorrectly referred to a plot to bug the phone and a caption incorrectly referred to an alleged wiretap scheme.
Some other organizations owe corrections and clarifications.
CBS News (h/t Steve), here:
It’s a blatant misstatement of fact. The Post had the decency to correct their error. CBS News should follow suit.
And the L.A. Times yesterday editorialized:
James O’Keefe’s latest caper
Filmmaker James O’Keefe III is 25, meaning he was born about 13 years after five men were arrested for trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate complex in Washington. The subsequent scandal, which led to the resignation of the burglars’ boss, President Richard M. Nixon, was fodder for history books by the time O’Keefe was old enough to read them. Chances are, he didn’t.
O’Keefe, the Internet “journalist” who became an overnight sensation after his undercover reports revealed unethical behavior by the liberal activist group ACORN, now finds himself in the middle of his own bugging scandal.
Uh, no, he doesn’t. As has now been made clear by someone in law enforcement:
A law enforcement official says the four men arrested for attempting to tamper with the phones in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) were not trying to intercept or wiretap the calls.
That quote, while anonymous, is convincing because it is not self-serving. Plus, the affidavit said nothing about wiretapping or intercepting calls. So there is no reason at all to believe that is what was going on. None.
If you enjoy the sensation of banging your head against the wall, you can write the L.A. Times‘s new Readers’ Representative and point out that the entire premise of this editorial is (to use the Nixonian term) inoperative. That they should have known better than to compare this to Watergate, because the affidavit never mentioned wiretapping. That a man’s reputation has now been sullied by their comparison of this video stunt to the criminal act of Watergate. That they owe readers a clarification, to promote the truth.
But you won’t get a correction. They will tell you that they didn’t misstate any facts.
See, the editorial writer was clever enough not to openly say that the feds had charged O’Keefe with wiretapping. The writer merely insinuated it:
It isn’t clear what the men were after or why they targeted Landrieu, who is one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate. But the fact that they tried to access the office’s telephone closet, where the wiring for the system is located, suggests that they may have wanted to tap Landrieu’s phone network.
Actually, it isn’t a “fact” that they “tried” to access the office’s telephone closet. It’s an allegation in a government affidavit. I believe they pretended to try to access the telephone closet, to tape the reaction of officials: “Why? It’s not like there’s a problem with the phones in Sen. Landrieu’s office!”
Maybe they can be frightened into a clarification if you explain to them that they took a government allegation and called it a “fact.” That’s the kind of thing that gets papers sued.
But don’t appeal to their responsibility to disseminate the truth. They will be more concerned with their own reputation for accuracy (we technically don’t have to correct it because we technically didn’t misstate a fact) than with whether they have unfairly smeared the reputation of a young man.
Because it’s a conservative young man, you see. So his reputation doesn’t matter.
I would love to see how the new Readers’ Rep handles this. Write her and I’ll publish your exchange once you get a response — as long as you are polite to her.
Polite . . . but firm.