Patterico's Pontifications


Readers’ Representative Issues Defense of Hagee-Murtha Story — No Wonder It Took So Long!!

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:00 am

I’ve heard back from the “Readers’ Representative” regarding the timing of Hagee’s briefing of Murtha.

Let’s review:

In May, the L.A. Times reported that John Murtha had been fully briefed by Marine Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee before Murtha made controversial public statements about the alleged massacre:

Hagee last week briefed key congressional leaders on the upcoming report. One of those, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), a retired Marine colonel, said later that Marines “killed innocent civilians in cold blood.”

We learned recently that Hagee says this isn’t true. As this Reuters story explained:

The head of the U.S. Marine Corps briefed Rep. John Murtha on the Haditha case after the vocal war critic publicly said Marines had killed innocent civilians in that Iraqi city, the Corps said on Thursday.

So the L.A. Times says that Hagee briefed Murtha, and then Murtha made his public statements about Haditha. Now, General Hagee’s spokesman says the order of events was reversed: first Murtha made his public statements, and then Hagee briefed Murtha.

Which happened first is important. It goes to the significant issue of whether Murtha shot off his mouth in public about Haditha before he was properly briefed.

So, four days ago, I wrote an e-mail to the L.A. Times Readers’ Representative to get to the bottom of this perplexing question. I gave her a link to the Reuters story, in which Hagee’s spokeman directly contradicts the version set forth by the L.A. Times in May.

I asked her several questions:

1) Will you be issuing a correction to the May 26 article?

2) Did anyone ever contact Gen. Hagee to ask him whether he had indeed briefed Murtha before Murtha spoke publicly about Haditha?

3) What was your basis for saying that the paper had reported this information accurately, when it now appears that it hadn’t?

I wondered: what would her response be? After all, this is a significant inquiry, backed by solid evidence. What is the L.A. Times‘s explanation?

Are they claiming that the Reuters report is somehow consistent with the statement in their paper? Do they believe that Hagee’s spokesman is lying or mistaken? Do they contend that Reuters misquoted Hagee’s spokesman? Do they allege that the L.A. Times May 26 story is based upon confidential sources that they can’t reveal?

Or is something else going on?

I was confident I’d get some kind of answer. After all, if you are the “Readers’ Representative” of a major newspaper, and someone supplies you direct evidence that one of your news reports was inaccurate, it’s explaining time.

What would the explanation be? I had no idea.

But last night, I got my answer.

But I warn you: the level of detail just may surprise you.

So brew a pot of coffee. Draw up your most comfortable chair. Put on a movie for the kids. And set aside some time to pore through the extensive response I received from the Readers’ Representative.

Yes, some could say that the “Readers’ Representative” went too far in explaining the paper’s position — but at least she’s looking out for the readers. And when readers have valid concerns about the accuracy of Times articles, based on solid evidence — why, she will be there for you.

Due to bandwidth limitations, I have placed her response in the extended entry.

Here it is. Click on “more” when you have the time:

[Extended entry]


That May 26 L.A. Times report is accurate.

Jamie Gold
Readers’ Representative

I swear I am not making that up.

35 Responses to “Readers’ Representative Issues Defense of Hagee-Murtha Story — No Wonder It Took So Long!!”

  1. Is ‘accurate’ here meant to communicate ‘spot on’, or something more like ‘it coulda happened’?
    Is ‘Hi’ in this case meant to communicate ‘hello’ or ‘greetings’, or something more like ‘Oh. You still here?’

    organshoes (b905c2)

  2. I hear the paper is offering a new bumper sticker for subscribers:

    The LA Times said it.
    I believe it.
    That settles it.

    Bradley J. Fikes (f912b4)

  3. Hey – their reply was too long for my server to handle.

    Bird Dog (71415b)

  4. I see that Jamie Gold has won the Poker contest. May be he is bluffing again.

    Raul Alessandri (97b150)

  5. “Readers’ Representative” fails the Turing test.

    John Taznar (b1c2a4)

  6. She must have meant to say “the May 26 L.A. Times weather report is accurate.”

    Perhaps you should repeat your question to her because, after all, the paper makes a written commitment to readers on accuracy and the role of the readers representative. A commerical entity like the Times so clearly violating explicit guarantees like this would ordinarily find themselves worrying about consumer fraud violations. I’d suggest you send a cease and desist letter to the general counsel, and turn it into a legal complaint if she persists in being so obtuse. This might sound petty, but you might win big wampum from the case!

    MTf (bbe3a8)

  7. Patterico, you have out Barnumed P.T. Barnum with your big buildup of suspense–and the subsequent letdown of Mr. Gold’s “response”.

    I’m reminded of Barnum posting a sign “This Way to The Egress” which really drew the rubes in (and out the exit door) of his traveling exhibit.

    Mike Myers (55ef4a)

  8. Hey, everyone knows the

    Fake but accurate

    line so well that one can just leave the words “fake but” off as that is a given.

    Therefore, Jamies reply is “accurate”.

    Oh, I forgot those two words again. Let me correct that — Jamie’s reply is “fake but accurate”.

    Nothing here, move along …

    Charlie (72b728)

  9. Which way to the Egress?

    Dan Collins (208fbe)

  10. WTF?

    Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor and replace my teeth…

    Another brilliant explantion from the Ministry of Truth. More ironclad proof of the MSM taking its responsibility ot misinform inform the public seriously.

    No wonder these assclowns are going the way of the dodo. Before long being a Reuters, LA Times or NPR correspondent will be reduced to a prison work-release position.

    Sirius Familiaris (93f35d)

  11. It depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.

    Now that the article has been archived, maybe they made a correction. That would make her right when she says it ‘is’ accurate.

    Maybe they just want you to purchase the archived article to check what it currently says.

    Bob_K (573e6b)

  12. Who can help when you have a problem with an ombudsman?

    It’s one of those age-old conundrums … like “What if the internal affairs department is corrupt?” Or “Who audits the IRS?”

    aunursa (1b5bad)

  13. Have you contacted the General’s office and requested clarification or confirmation?

    Seems more likely to yield results.

    Sam (c71bb1)

  14. maybe the times is telling the truth, and reuters is lying. does reuters have an ombudsman you can write? put the heat on **them** and see what happens. maybe you can engineer a confrontation. too bad you can’t get them under oath.

    assistant devil's advocate (c52d98)

  15. Dear Marine Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee:

    The Los Angeles Times, that bastion of truth and accuracy, has claimed, through their reader representative, the story that you briefed Congressman John Murtha, before he made his derogatory remarks calling the Haditha marines cold-blooded murderers, is accurate. This means they are accusing you of not only lying, but lying to Congress. This is a serious accusation. Would you care to respond to this accusation or wait for your own court martial to defend yourself? signed The Blogosphere.

    I think this needs to be distributed to every single blog and deserves a blogswarm. Jack “cowardly cut and run” Murtha is a senile old man who needs to be defeated. I don’t know what happened to this old Marine, but something snapped with him, perhaps overriding fear in combat, but whatever it was, he should just go away. Elect Diana Irey.

    Sara (Squiggler) (47b627)

  16. Is ‘Hi’ in this case meant to communicate ‘hello’ or ‘greetings’, or something more like ‘Oh. You still here?’

    I think Hi in this case is should be high as in “I’m high as shit right now…so it looks cool to me…print it.”

    larry (c7359c)

  17. Translation:

    “I reject your reality and substitue my own.”
    – MythBustersMakers

    Sherlock (a58e20)

  18. Bwahahaahaha.

    See Dubya (1b33c3)

  19. I made a pot of coffee. THe kids are watching the classic Porky’s Revenge (third of that series.) OK, ready for the detailed answer….

    Brian (780e69)

  20. Heck, they’d have been better off letting the crickets continue to chirp. Why lie when you can ignore?

    I think they figure they can blow you off Pat. After all, it’s not like you’re a subscriber that they’d have to respe…well, forgot that. By not admitting their error, they are in fact blowing off their entire subscriber base also. “We can publish any lie we want, ’cause we have the ink.”

    I think your category of Dog Trainer may have just become a little toooo respectful of the LA Times. Didn’t think they could sink any lower. Apparently there is still room at the bottom.

    Bill M (d9e4b2)

  21. This definitely means the commandant of the Marine Corps is a liar. The L.A. Times said so.

    Will you tell him or should I?

    Personally, I wouldn’t tell him unless I was hiding behind a mother f’n sock puppet and 1,000 miles of clear space.

    Chris from Victoria, BC (9824e6)

  22. You’re missing the significance of that answer. The Reader Rep could have said “That May 26 LA Times article was true.” They didn’t. Don’t you remember the line from Absence of Malice ? He asks her if that was true and she says, “No, but it’s accurate.” Note the tagline in the imdb page. You’ve been had.

    Mike K (32afd1)

  23. She is letting you know how the Times defines accurate.

    Yes, Murtha made public statements about the incident.

    And yes, Rep. Murtha was briefed by Gen. Hagee.

    How much more “accuracy” can one story contain?

    Mike S (2639a4)

  24. Perhaps it means “we accurately reported Murtha’s lie.”

    That they feel no need to follow up such a lie, however is telling. Can you imagine the hullabaloo, stories, and editorials if some leading conservative politician had been caught telling such a whopper?

    Dave C. (e49953)

  25. I think they mean “we faked Murtha’s qualifications to call our soldiers murderous poopyheads, but the story was accurate because our soldiers really are murderous poopyheads.”

    Xrlq (a0a088)

  26. Would that be 50% accurate, 25%, 2%??

    These people are simply not sane or serious.


    The Ace (8d7f7b)

  27. Why don’t you just report the exchange between you and Dean Baquet already? I can’t imagine he’d think you’re obligated to keep it off the record. As I told you before, I certainly don’t think you’re under any such obligation, and I don’t know any journalist who would.

    [Cathy, I’m just trying to bend over backwards to treat Mr. Baquet the way I’d want to be treated in his shoes. Granted, by ignoring my e-mails, he hasn’t really met me halfway. But I’ve made a sort of commitment, and I can’t back out now. — P]

    Cathy Seipp (ff1439)

  28. I’m with Cathy. Patterico, your desire to maintain the Marquis de Queensbury rules is admirable, but excessively gentlemanly for dealing with these louts.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  29. But just to be clear: I don’t think Dean Baquet is a “lout.” I think he’s a reasonable journalist who knows the rules, and therefore doubt it even entered his head that his response to an email requesting an interview should be off the record.

    Cathy Seipp (4a4382)

  30. It does not matter whether Murtha was briefed before or after his statements. Either way he made public statements about an ongoing investigation, and assumed guilt of our marines before proven.

    opinionsarefree (85254d)

  31. Have you contacted the General’s office and requested clarification or confirmation?

    Seems more likely to yield results.


    I just did. Thanks.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  32. […] Remember that contradiction between an L.A. Times report and statements by the Marine Corps regarding when Gen. Hagee briefed Jack Murtha on Haditha? I have put the question to General Hagee, through a major in his office who handles media requests. I’ll let you know what I hear back. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Going to the Source (421107)

  33. […] The background is here. Briefly, Murtha made public statements on May 17 in which he accused Marines of killing civilians at Haditha “in cold blood.” On May 26, the L.A. Times reported that Gen. Hagee had briefed Murtha before his May 17 statements: Hagee last week briefed key congressional leaders on the upcoming report. One of those, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), a retired Marine colonel, said later that Marines “killed innocent civilians in cold blood.” […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Hagee’s Office Responds: Contradicts L.A. Times (421107)

  34. […] He’s got them by the pants cuff again, although there’s not much there we didn’t already know. His real scoop came a few days earlier, when the Times’s reader rep responded to one of his e-mails by foolishly standing by their earlier story that it was General Hagee who had briefed Murtha before he made his first comments about Haditha on May 17th — even though the Corps has since said it isn’t true. […]

    Hot Air » Blog Archive » Dog bites man: Patterico nails the LA Times on Murtha (d4224a)

  35. […] L.A. Times correction: stonewall for three months, telling readers and callers your staff is looking into the allegations, and finally come back with a terse statement to the effect that the original article was accurate. […]

    A Second Hand Conjecture » Corrections (f55714)

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