Patterico's Pontifications

9/25/2012

James Rainey: You Should *Thank* The L.A. Times for Withholding the Khalidi Tape

Filed under: 2012 Election,Dog Trainer,General,Obama — Patterico @ 7:35 pm

James Rainey says we should be thanking the L.A. Times for withholding the Khalidi tape — because if they hadn’t promised to do so, we never would have heard about it in the first place:

The latest resurrection of the Khalidi video mythology came this week courtesy of Breitbart.com. The website on Thursday offered a $100,000 reward for a copy of the “Khalidi tape” — which the right-wing site speculates will lay bare the ugly back story of Obama’s disdain of Israel, his “sacrifice” of Free Speech, and his effusive support of Mideast radicals.

. . . .

So why couldn’t the newspaper simply release the video, along with the story? This is where the tempest, which began four years ago, continues to this day.

The misunderstanding stems from one camp’s unwillingness to hear, or acknowledge, some essential truths about the way journalists do their jobs. Wallsten, like every other honest reporter out there battling for information, must build relationships with sources.

Every conversation about a piece of information becomes a transaction. For many sources who share previously confidential information, their threshold for divulging the secret is that their identity be shrouded. That also means keeping confidential any details, regarding the exchange of information, that might tend to divulge the source’s identity.

In the case of the Khalidi video, the unnamed source agreed to share the illuminating bit of video evidence with Wallsten, but only with the understanding that the reporter could not reproduce or rebroadcast the images. The journalist had to make a decision: Do I agree to that condition and get to see evidence that no other reporter has seen of Obama meeting with Palestinian Americans? Or do I insist on a full public release of the video, with the likely outcome that the source would share nothing?

Wallsten pushed for the release of the video but when the source would not agree, Wallsten agreed to accept more limited access to the recording. He agreed not to reveal his source nor share the video with anyone else.

The net result: The world got a story that showed Obama the political operator, sliding between two opposite and highly contentious worlds. The audience did not get to view the video, but it got far more than it had without The Times’ reporting. That’s the nature of some journalistic negotiations; giving up the perfect to obtain the very good.

That’s fine, as far as it goes. But there are some other steps that could be taken, and I pointed them out in November 2008, just before the last presidential election:

I’m at a loss as to why editors can’t take simple steps that (as far as we know) are not precluded by the promise to the source. They could:

  • Prepare and release a transcript.
  • Go back to the source and ask permission to release the tape now.
  • View the tape again to see if Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn were present (as has been rumored) — and if they were, publish a story setting forth the details of their interaction, if any, with Senator Obama.
  • View the tape again to see whether Senator Obama is shown on tape during any of the more controversial statements — and if he was, describe his reaction.

Promises to withhold source material, while they may be necessary for a story, should be disfavored. If they’re given, editors should give them the narrowest possible reasonable interpretation.

Instead, editors seem determined to construe their promises more broadly than even their source contemplated. They haven’t said they promised not to release a transcript, for example. So why haven’t they?

Do me a favor and help me ask James Rainey for a response as to why these things couldn’t be done. He decided to opine, so he can’t really refuse to answer on the grounds that it’s someone else’s story.

These are fair questions. Could you answer them, Mr. Rainey?

Rainey can be contacted at james.rainey@latimes.com and is on twitter at http://twitter.com/latimesrainey. (I am on Twitter at http://twitter.com/patterico. Follow me if you haven’t already!)

Thanks to dana.

P.S. I will happily publish any missive sent to Rainey, along with his response, if any.

27 Responses to “James Rainey: You Should *Thank* The L.A. Times for Withholding the Khalidi Tape”

  1. Thank you, LAT, for saving this video for later viewing!

    That time has now come.

    Icy (145c49)

  2. We should thank them for being so in the tank for the most incompetent President in history?

    Uh, no.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  3. Does anyone trust their description of the event?

    JD (7e251a)

  4. I’m sure they were just as curious about the Mayhill Fowler report about ‘bitter clingers’ or
    the SF Chronicle Ed Board members, comments about ‘electricity prices, necessarily skyrocket, no, shockah

    narciso (ee31f1)

  5. Obama needs Jewish money you can’t just be publishing crap willynilly what would screw with that… Not if you want to be a respectable newspaper in failmerica

    happyfeet (ebb84c)

  6. P.S. I will happily publish any missive sent to Rainey, along with his response, if any.

    Patterico (83033d)

  7. Every conversation about a piece of information becomes a transaction. For many sources who share previously confidential information, their threshold for divulging the secret is that their identity be shrouded. That also means keeping confidential any details, regarding the exchange of information, that might tend to divulge the source’s identity.

    I cannot find the word for that, Patterico. S***?

    nk (875f57)

  8. I talk in meter and rhyme, but so did Shakespeare — in pentameter. It is a very effective rhetorical device. Even when it is done by crazy people. According to some doctors, talking in a way that sounds pretty and will be remembered is a sign of mental disease.

    nk (875f57)

  9. The problem, of course, is that the reporter won’t release the video because it might affect the reporter’s access to future disclosures.

    It’s a perfect excuse.

    Except, it makes no sense.

    The L.A. Times has a video that could affect the outcome of the current election. It is the guarder of the truth, yet, it is stymied by revealing the truth because of some other blockbuster that the source may provide. Have I got that right?

    That is the pristine “choice” that current media take.

    Look, I lived in this world for awhile. Either the video really reveals something about President Eye-Candy or reveals something far worse for the reporter or the L.A. Times.

    The L.A. Times would, as most media outlets, forget its commitment to sources for a good scoop unless it violated the skew of the information.

    Does anyone remember John Edwards or Dan Rather?

    Ag80 (b2c81f)

  10. I could have been more concise if I had said:

    The Los Angeles Times is the Billy Armstrong of the media. Incoherent and in need of serious help.

    Ag80 (b2c81f)

  11. They know that if they release the tape — or anything else — that the long knives will come out. They think that we will be very very angry with them if they don’t, but they are used to that, and they trust us, as strange as it seems. They are afraid of the long knives and do not trust those who would wield them.

    htom (412a17)

  12. Is the agreement with the source enforceable against creditors? Seems like a bankrupt organization that is offered $100K needs to at least present the offer to the receiver.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  13. With all due respect the tape has to be worth millions of dollars if it is an election game changer.

    Gazzer (2abc7c)

  14. If there is even a chance that it will be released, you know something will “happen” to it.

    Contrast this with the Jack & Jeri Ryan sealed divorce documents that Obama somehow got a CA judge to unseal when Ryan was the Republican candidate for the Senate seat he won.

    It would be a fine turn to use that as precedent.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  15. So I looked at Rainey’s twitter feed and found these panic-inducing morale destroying tweets:

    “People really worked up about this report on undecided voters angry about @MittRomney ‘s 47%”

    “#47% comment really hurt @MittRomney w undecided voters, interviews show. He just doesn’t get avg Americans”
    Both tweets link to Raineys recent column Mitt Romney’s ’47%’ comment alienated undecided voters: poll

    What is the evidence of this conclusion?

    That’s the single strongest sentiment registered this week by previously undecided voters interviewed by the Los Angeles Times.

    None of nine uncommitted voters from one month ago said in follow-up interviews

    liontooth (c33c1e)

  16. I think that you were right on with this article. Patterico, What motivated you to call this blog “James Rainey: You Should *Thank* The L.A. Times for Withholding the Khalidi Tape”, not that the title does not go with the content, I am just wondering. Great job Patterico.

    Change Software (926d0d)

  17. IF ya’ll just dress up like Muslims and got riot in front of the LA Times, I am sure he will give it up. Do same in front of his House. Go to his children’s school too.

    Then issue a press release saying “We learned these tactics from the Wisconsin Unions, Alluh Ahkbar.”

    Rodney King's Spirit (aeda60)

  18. I’m guessing that the tape is either in Obama’s hands now or was ground to a pulp and then rendered into ash sometime shortly after January 20, 2009

    Libertarian Advocate (c660ae)

  19. For Rainey to call Breitbart a “right wing site” seems to argue the premise that the LAT is not a left wing site. Good luck with that.

    Bill M (dc386c)

  20. R.I.P. Andy Williams

    Icy (ae47d2)

  21. Surely the LA Times cannot be trusted to provide even a transcript as they are too susceptible to untruths/exaggerations in their news releases. I picture Rainey someday saying “fooled ya” as the tape never existed.

    PatAZ (1f9b76)

  22. The AP reports that CNN broke its promise to Ambassador Stevens ‘ family that it wouldn’t report on his diary, so clearly the journalistic principle involved is more flexible than the LA Times wants us to believe. Plus, does anyone really believe CNN will lose all its sources because it reported that story anyway?

    But at least now we know why Obama bows to the Saudis.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  23. Rainey is so selectively manipulative in his word selection that any possible points he might have become null and void in his underhanded machinations. It becomes painfully obvious.

    The latest resurrection of the Khalidi video mythology came this week courtesy of Breitbart.com. The website on Thursday offered a $100,000 reward for a copy of the “Khalidi tape” — which the right-wing site speculates will lay bare the ugly back story of Obama’s disdain of Israel, his “sacrifice” of Free Speech, and his effusive support of Mideast radicals.

    Such fantastical thinking is rife not just on Breitbart.com but across the conservative Interwebs.

    My response to Rainey’s above claims is stop with the rhetoric and just prove Breitbart.com wrong.

    Dana (292dcf)

  24. The misunderstanding stems from one camp’s unwillingness to hear, or acknowledge, some essential truths about the way journalists do their jobs. Wallsten, like every other honest reporter out there battling for information, must build relationships with sources.

    … so how is this any different than …

    Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN’s Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.

    Neo (d1c681)

  25. James has told us that we need to be thankful that the LAT at least told us of the existence of the tape.
    We should leave it at that, since James is sooooo much better than the rest of us, and knows stuff.

    Maroon!

    AD-Restore the Republic/Obama Sucks! (b8ab92)

  26. Many in our nation do not appreciate the “Manchurian Candidate” now in office.

    Listen up! Your choomer in chief (pothead) wants you to stay SO DISTRACTED BY FANTASY FOOTBALL; BEER; CHOOM; BABES; ETC. THAT THEY IGNORE THE ENEMIES AT OUR GATES:

    ” THE JOYS OF THE COMING SHARI’A”
    [BIG CHANGES COMING TO AMERICA!]

    Part 1: The Old Guys Try to Give Advice:

    As a kind of a “public announcement”
    Just a “heads up” for inquiring minds,
    Perhaps we could “talk” for a minute,
    ‘Though we know you have so little time.
    There are game shows to watch;
    And those sports—What demands!
    You could spend your whole life on TV
    And hey, girl, who’s the hottest?
    What’s the latest? Is it true what they said?
    “Staying hip is much harder than it seems!

    Part 2: The “Kids Say They Are Alright”
    Well, we were all set for some silly election,
    That we knew that Obama would win,
    When those guys from the East got all crazy,
    ‘Cause they claimed that our movies were “sin”
    Would they “cool it”, take a “chill pill”,
    Or just “go with flow”? No, they went nuts!
    Killed our guys, burned our flags, yelled all day!
    All that sneering and strutting didn’t matter so much,
    We all figured they’d just go away.
    Then…their preachers said: “There’s hell to pay!

    Now, you KNOW we are hip with religion–
    “Live and let live” is our thing,
    But the stuff they were screaming on Prime Time TV,
    Was a “little bit much”, doncha think?
    Still, we’re sure we can renounce the faith of our past,
    After all, we’d “THE WON” as our God.
    He was sexy and smart (with that teleprompter thing)
    Every time that he spoke, we were AWED!
    So if the MEDIA, and the STARS, and “Our Man”
    Say “It’s cool”—we can quickly embrace a new law!

    Part 3: Those Old Geezers Respond

    Well, to get your new groove, we’re preparing
    You now, to get this “great future” on track.
    For the girls, it’s remarkably simply,
    You can have any Burka that’s black!
    True, you’ll not have the time to “keep current”
    ‘Cause your man keeps you flat on your back!
    Now you guys may get fit with a collar,
    Although “gelding’s” been known to occur.
    Still, we hope that you won’t swear or holler,
    Cause those penalties get more severe.
    [And be very, very sure you’re not queer!]

    Well, “To hell” as they say, “With our worries!”
    After all, you just haven’t a clue,
    That YOUR vote could change your “government” life,
    For to be pampered and worshipped’s your due!
    Drink that Kool-Aid; live with Mom;
    Watch that “aid” roll on in
    “Julia’s life” is the best to be found!
    Then prepare, really fast, to switch sides on the fly,
    Cause’ Shari’a will take us all down,

    And there’s no place that they’ll let us hide.
    NO RIGHTS RESERVED – Hey, we “tried” didn’t we?
    O.K. So, even assuming ANY of the above matters, surely there is NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ROMNEY & OBAMA ABOUT SHARI’A LAW; DEFENDING AMERICA’S RIGHTS; FREEDOM OF RELIGION, ETC. RIGHT…RIGHT?
    See: http://www.americanthinker.com10. Islam commands that drinkers and gamblers should be whipped. [So much for "fantasy football"--ouch]
    9. Islam allows husbands to hit their wives even if the husbands merely fear highhandedness in their wives. ["War on Women"--you've no idea]
    8. Islam allows an injured plaintiff to exact legal revenge—physical eye for physical eye. [Boy, THAT solves our "tort lawyer" problem QUICK!]
    7. Islam commands that a male and female thief must have a hand cut off. [New growth industry: PROSTHETICS--JOBS OF THE FUTURE TODAY]
    6. Islam commands that highway robbers should be crucified or mutilated. [California's highways WOULD REALLY BE DEPRESSING THEN]
    5. Islam commands that homosexuals must be executed. [Shush--No gays here, nope, not a one, no, no no]
    4. Islam orders unmarried fornicators to be whipped and adulterers to be stoned to death. [That "hook up" thing you got now? GONE OVERNIGHT .]
    3. Islam orders death for Muslim and possible death for non—Muslim critics of Muhammad and the Quran and even sharia itself. [Hey, we LOVE the new scheme, LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!]
    2. Islam orders apostates to be killed.
    1. Islam commands offensive and aggressive and unjust jihad. [Overpopulation--Solve it instantly! "Redistribution" is just getting us ready for the "main event"]

    Baby Glock (a613f3)

  27. Rainey writes that John McCain and Sarah Palin insisted the LA Times had a secret video that would prove Barack Obama consorted with leftists.

    I doubt that the McCain campaign ever mentioned the video. 99.99%

    cm smith (3d4e3b)


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