Patterico's Pontifications

2/9/2010

CJR Whacks Blumenthal, Postures

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:48 pm

The Columbia Journalism Review mildly slams Max Blumenthal’s crap piece on James O’Keefe, in a piece called Unforced Error at Salon:

But as a journalist, it’s incumbent upon Blumenthal—and any outlet that publishes his work—to distinguish between what his sources actually observed and what they believe to be true. A journalist’s claim to an audience’s trust is based on the implicit promise that he will take that step. And that responsibility, obviously, doesn’t go away just because you’ve got a good story or a worthy target.

. . . .

. . . an error of this sort does more than provide O’Keefe with a defense, by allowing him to shift the focus to a point that was not proven. It also, for every minute that it’s out there, provides ready-made ammunition for that broader campaign—and for the idea that the media is motivated by ideological biases and personal vendettas, unconstrained by norms that ensure fairness and accuracy.

Yeah. Because it is.

As is typical of this liberal outlet, it bends over backwards to excuse Salon. That much is evident from the last handwringing paragraph of the above quote.

Author Greg Marx claims that that O’Keefe’s mere presence at this debate was a REAL STORY!!!!1!!!!1!

Also, he absolves Salon of its responsibility for slipshod reporting by noting that Salon issued a correction. Left unsaid: the inadequacy of the correction.

I already pointed out some uncorrected errors here. In addition, Frank Ross notes that Salon is still running the Photoshopped picture of O’Keefe, and continues to inaccurately refer to the debate as “white-nationalist confab.”

So, pretty shitty job by CJR. But, you know: better than usual.

Obama’s Snow Day

Filed under: Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 5:27 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Washington, D.C., and most federal offices have been closed down since Monday because of a blizzard. Is it just a coincidence President Obama chose a snow day for an unannounced press conference, his first in six months?

“It had been more than six months since President Barack Obama held a formal news conference, and, although his surprise appearance in the press briefing room of the West Wing today isn’t what would normally pass for one, the White House today declared, in the aftermath, that this indeed had been a news conference.
***
When it was over, the president declared himself satisfied: “That was pretty good.”

With only about a dozen questions fielded in the 33-minute encounter — held without any prior announcement offering reporters a chance to ink their questions on the palms of their hands — this was the first news conference since one held on July 22.”

The official transcript is here.

— DRJ

EDIT — From the White House link:

QUESTION: Thanks for doing this. It’s been a while. (Laughter.) On health care, the Republicans are asking whether the February 25th session will include economists and public interest groups and people supporting your side, or will it just be the members of Congress? And on Anthem Blue Cross, do you have the authority to go in and tell a private company they can’t charge that — how will you stop them?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don’t have the authority as I understand it — I can’t simply issue an executive order lowering everybody’s rates. If I could I would have done that already and saved myself a lot of grief on Capitol Hill. That’s why reform is so important. That’s why the status quo is unacceptable.

But there is no shortcut in dealing with this issue. I know the American people get frustrated in debating something like health care because you get a whole bunch of different claims being made by different groups and different interests. It is a big, complicated, tough issue. But what is also true is that without some action on the part of Congress, it is very unlikely that we see any improvement over the current trajectory. And the current trajectory is premiums keep on going up 10, 15, 20, 30 percent. The current trajectory is more and more people are losing health care.”

People are losing health care because they can’t afford it in this economy as Anthem Blue Cross explained. Plus, am I reading this right? It sounds like President Obama considered whether he could order insurance rates lowered. Is there no limit to what this Administration is willing to consider?

Eric Boehlert STILL Owes Jim Treacher a Correction — and an Apology Would Be Nice, Too

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:09 pm

Eric Boehlert recently wrote that Jim Treacher had claimed, on the Daily Caller web site, that the Secret Service had hit him while he was jogging:

UPDATED: And how about the Daily Caller itself, which allowed its blogger to publish the allegation on its site that he’d been hit by the Secret Service, which was not true.

Note very carefully Boehlert’s reference to Treacher publishing this on the Daily Caller web site. In case any reader missed it, Boehlert repeated the claim:

The Daily Caller then posted a long, detailed account of the accident, suggesting a government conspiracy to cover up the crime. Yet in that accusatory article, the Daily Caller left out the fact that its employee originally, and eroneously [sic], accused the Secret Service of running him over, and did it on the Daily Caller site. That fact was conveniently flushed down the memory hole.

Note well: Boehlert’s complaint was that Treacher published on the Daily Caller web site the false allegation that the Secret Service had hit him.

In a post published this morning, I noted that Boehlert’s claim was false. Instead, Treacher’s Daily Caller piece merely noted that he had been told the Secret Service had hit him. (As it turns out, Treacher had been misinformed; he was really hit by a security officer for the State Department.)

Boehlert now defends himself in a new, dishonest post at Media Matters titled Surprise! RW blogger Patterico swings and misses.

Pay close attention, because I want you to see precisely how dishonest Boehlert’s debating tactics are.

  • Tactic #1: If you said something indefensible, pretend you never said it.

As noted above, Boehlert repeatedly claimed that Treacher’s claim was published “on the Daily Caller site.” It was not. So Boehlert is pretending he never said it.

Instead, Boehlert cites a couple of “tweets” by Treacher.

“Tweets”?

(For those not familiar with the term, it refers to the short 140-character-or-less messages posted on Twitter.)

Remember the Boehlert quotes above, about “the Daily Caller site” and how the Daily Caller “allowed its blogger” to publish a false allegation “on its site”?

That never happened, friends. This was all about Jim Treacher’s “tweets.”

It remains clear: Eric Boehlert still owes Jim Treacher a correction. Boehlert claimed that Treacher published false allegations on the Daily Caller web site. Treacher did not. Boehlert called the injured bloggers’s statements “lies.” They were not.

What’s more, Boehlert owes Treacher an apology for being such a cretin. The man got hit by a car and had his knee broken, for God’s sake, and all Boehlert can do is insert falsehoods into Treacher’s mouth and do a little happy dance.

Creep.

Oh — and in discussing the “Tweets,” Boehlert engages in his second dishonest, Media Matters-approved tactic:

  • Tactic #2: Rip statements out of their context.

Treacher’s original Twitter messages came one after the other, over the course of about 10 minutes. In those messages, Treacher said the following:

Guess what? I just got hit by a car while crossing the street. At a crosswalk. With the right of way. By the Secret Service. Not joking. My knee’s broken. I’m staying at my boss Neil’s house. I want to know why the Secret Service hit me, crossing w/ the Walk sign, & drove off. You guys think I’m joking. I’m not joking. So everybody who doesn’t like me, give yourself a pat on the back. Don’t be afraid to cheer. I know the Secret Service hit me because the cops said so. Oh, and so did the Secret Service. No apology, though. Yet.

Because of the nature of Twitter, messages are broken up into 140-character segments — meaning that the above set of messages was necessarily broken into separate messages, as follows (start at the bottom):

Treacher Tweets

Remember: Boehlert’s claim is that Treacher claimed, without qualification, that he had been hit by the Secret Service. Treacher’s claim is that he said only that he had been told he had been hit by the Secret Service.

Boehlert’s claim depends on the reader ignoring the context of the 10-minute stream of messages, taken as a whole. If you read the statements in context, Treacher clearly qualifies his claim as based on what he was told.

Yes, he said he had been hit by the Secret Service. Yes, he made it clear that he “knew” this only because of what he had been told. Yes, when he learned he had been told the wrong thing, he immediately corrected himself.

So what exactly is Boehlert making such a big deal about?

I listed at least three previous instances (all unaddressed by Boehlert) where Boehlert made incorrect and/or unsupportable statements without correcting them. He’s now up to at least four.

It’s a shameful record. He engages in shameful and dishonest tactics.

Par for the course at Media Matters.

Oh — and by the way, it wasn’t a hit and run. It was a hit and walk.

Eric Boehlert Owes Jim Treacher a Correction

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:18 am

Eric Boehlert owes Jim Treacher a correction.

In a screed — ironically enough, about NRO’s need to correct errors in their pieces — Boehlert wrote:

It’s true that a conservative blogger, who writes under name Jim Treacher, immediately claimed he’d been hit by a Secret Service SUV.

No, Eric Boehlert, that’s actually not true. It’s actually quite false.

Treacher today explains:

A quick clarification for Eric Boehlert and anybody else who’s confused: I did not claim Secret Service hit me. I said I was told Secret Service hit me by people who would know. Namely, the paramedics who took me from 22nd and M to Georgetown University Hospital. They said they didn’t know if I realized it, but I’d been hit by CIA or Secret Service. Probably the latter. So I passed along what I was told, and said I wanted answers if it was true.

A quick review of Treacher’s original piece reveals that he is correct. That piece stated: “One last thing: I’m told by multiple people that the SUV that hit me was Secret Service. If this is true, I want to know why that happened.”

So Boehlert took a true statement and changed it into one that was false — and then denounced the statement as false. Indeed, in an update, Boehlert doubled down — nay, tripled down. First Boehlert even more explicitly repeated his false allegation concerning Treacher’s original report:

UPDATED: And how about the Daily Caller itself, which allowed its blogger to publish the allegation on its site that he’d been hit by the Secret Service, which was not true. The Daily Caller then posted a long, detailed account of the accident, suggesting a government conspiracy to cover up the crime. Yet in that accusatory article, the Daily Caller left out the fact that its employee originally, and eroneously, accused the Secret Service of running him over, and did it on the Daily Caller site. That fact was conveniently flushed down the memory hole.

(The bold emphasis is mine; the italics and misspelling are all Boehlert’s. Two r’s in “erroneously,” Boehlert. You’re welcome. It’s a word you need to learn, as it has special application to your “work.”)

Wrong again, Boehlert. There is no issue of a memory hole here. If you read Treacher’s post, you will continue to see his original, non-“eroneous” quote about being told he had been hit by the Secret Service — along with an update clarifying as follows: “The Daily Caller has been told by federal law enforcement sources that the Secret Service was not involved, and is working to confirm that driver of the vehicle which struck Jim Treacher was a State Department security employee.”

Boehlert then goes on to describe Treacher’s original, accurate claim as one of two “lies” being told about the incident.

Boehlert is one to complain about accuracy. He is the guy who:

  • Distorted a quote from blogger See Dubya, taking See Dubya’s quote about one of two possible scenarios and turning it into a positive claim by See Dubya.
  • Falsely claimed that Jamil Hussein was “under arrest” — and then refused to correct the error . . . in a column about warbloggers’ failures to correct errors. (See? Today’s irony is not without precedent.)

To my knowledge, Boehlert has corrected none of these past errors. (Oh, hell, let’s call them “lies”; why should Boehlert receive the benefit of the doubt, when he is not willing to extend that courtesy to others?)

But correct me if I’m wrong. Unlike Boehlert, I care about the truth, and will cheerfully issue a correction when shown I’m wrong.

UPDATE: Boehlert claims to prove that I am wrong by referring to Treacher’s Twitter messages (which Boehlert takes out of context). Only problem is, Boehlert claimed Treacher published his allegedly false claims at the Daily Caller — something Boehlert “forgets” he said. Details in my follow-up here.


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