The L.A. Times has a front-page story about the Meg Whitman/maid affair that darkly references a “letter” that is supposed to hurt Whitman’s position somehow. Here is the passage about the letter that appears on Page One:
But Whitman’s lengthy defense was undercut by the second in a dramatic duel of widely broadcast news conferences as the housekeeper’s attorney, Gloria Allred, produced a copy of a government letter sent six years before Nicandra Diaz Santillan was fired alerting the couple to potential problems. On the bottom of the letter was a note in what Allred said was Whitman’s husband’s handwriting: “Nicky, please check this. Thanks.”
Here’s how this looks on the front page:
It alerted her to “potential problems,” eh? Well, that certainly sounds damning!
Until you look at the actual letter (.pdf) to see what it actually says — something this “news” publication never bothers to disclose. No image of the letter is provided. No quote from the letter is given.
We can do better and we will.
“This letter makes no statement about your employee’s immigration status.”
The L.A. Times describes the letter only as “the letter from the Social Security Administration which told the couple that Diaz Santillan’s Social Security number and name did not match.” Further, editors suggest the letter should have tipped off the Whitmans regarding her immigration status:
But the letter called into question when the couple knew there might be a problem. In a campaign call, Whitman strategist Rob Stutzman called the letter a “rather perfunctory piece of paperwork,” and other campaign officials noted that it came to no conclusion about Diaz Santillan’s legal status. But questions about erroneous Social Security numbers can be a tip-off to a residency issue.
The letter didn’t just fail to come to a conclusion about her legal status — as if that was never mentioned. Rather, the letter explicitly says that it makes no statement about her immigration status. That is a stronger statement. Again, the quote is: “This letter makes no statement about your employee’s immigration status.” Editors do not make this clear; nor do they tell readers that the Whitmans were told the letter could not be used to fire Santillan.
Moreover, editors do not tell readers that the letter asks only that the Whitmans check the Social Security number in question against the Social Security number she had already given them:
Well, she had provided them a fake Social Security card, copies of which the campaign has released. Allahpundit observes:
When you read it carefully, all it says is that there’s some recordkeeping discrepancy related to Diaz’s W-2, which could mean any number of things; her lawyer points out that Diaz acknowledged on page two of the document that she goes by two different names, which Whitman’s husband might have believed was the true cause of the mix-up. . . . Essentially, they’re forced to compare Diaz’s false documents to Diaz’s recitation of the numbers on those false documents, which is moronic. Is that right, or have I misread something here?
Nope, you’ve pretty much got it. It’s a huge nothing — not that you would know this by simply reading the L.A. Times.