Patterico's Pontifications


Media Matters’s Eric Boehlert Gets the Facts Wrong — Again

Filed under: General,Media Bias,Scum,War — Patterico @ 5:44 pm

Media Matters’s Eric Boehlert: ignorant? Sloppy? Or dishonestly posturing?


You make the call!

Just yesterday, I said:

By the way, those oh-so-careful leftists? Some of them are claiming that Jamil Hussein has already been arrested — based on a report that says he faces arrest. . . . [K]eep your eyes open for the lefties who claim Jamil Hussein has already been arrested. You’ll see ‘em. Because they’re the careful ones!

I followed my own advice, and guess which oh-so-careful leftist I caught misrepresenting the facts? None other then our favorite serial misrepresenter, Media Matters’s Eric Boehlert:

But the bottom fell out Thursday afternoon, when the Iraqi government flip-flopped and suddenly confirmed Hussein’s existence. In fact, he was under arrest for doing what warbloggers insisted Hussein could never do in the first place — talk to reporters . . .

The words “under arrest” hyperlink to an Editor & Publisher report that said Hussein merely “faces arrest” for speaking to the media. That report also makes it crystal clear that Hussein will not face prosecution, because any prosecution would require the cooperation of the AP — something that nobody on the planet believes will happen:

Khalaf said Thursday that with the arrest of Hussein for breaking police regulations against talking to reporters, the AP would be called to identify him in a lineup as the source of its story.

Should the AP decline to assist in the identification, Khalaf said, the case against Hussein would be dropped. He also said there were no plans to pursue action against the AP should it decline.

As I said on Thursday:

I have absolutely no doubt that the AP will decline. So, make no mistake: any lefty handwringing over the government’s alleged crushing of dissent is either ignorant or, more likely, pure posturing.

Which camp does Eric Boehlert fall into?

Me, I’m going with “pure posturing.”

A Prediction I Wish I Didn’t Have to Make

Filed under: General,War — Patterico @ 3:18 pm

Do you remember the fall of Saigon? Do you remember our betrayal of people who trusted us to keep them safe?


Unless attitudes change dramatically, we are doomed to repeat this ignoble act in Iraq. Despite the plan to “surge” troops into Iraq, we are going to end up with a terrible situation like the one depicted in that photograph.

Mark my words. When the time comes, I will remind you of this. And I will not take the slightest scrap of pleasure in saying I told you so.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:08 pm

Teflon Don has a post about disabling IEDs in an interestingly named village near Fallujah.

Media Matters Distorts Something (Yawn)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:32 pm

Media Matters’s front page has a graphic that states: “Warbloggers refuse to admit their errors in making fraud allegations against AP.” Here it is:


Interestingly, the post of mine that they highlight is this one, titled “Media Matters Isikoffs See Dubya.” In that post, I make no allegations of fraud against the AP, nor do I refuse to admit an error. Rather, I accurately point out a misquotation in a Media Matters piece by Eric Boehlert — a misquotation, by the way, that Boehlert later admitted.

Why is my post listed in that graphic, Media Matters?

P.S. Check out some of the other posts in the graphic and see how they distort matters there as well. For example, they claim in this post:

Fox News’ Brit Hume said that the Associated Press “has been vindicated” over its report of six Iraqis who were purportedly burned alive . . .

In fact, as the transcript shows, Brit Hume said no such thing. Rather, he said that the AP had been vindicated as to allegations (made by whom, I wonder?) that Hussein didn’t even exist. Hume said:

The AP was widely accused at the time of making up Hussein’s identity in order to disseminate false news about the war. No explanation was offered about why it took so long to confirm his name or why it is being disclosed now, but the AP, it appears, has been vindicated on this.

That is hardly the same thing as saying the AP was vindicated on the issue of the Burning Six, which is what Media Matters implies in its summary.

At least Media Matters included the transcript in its post. But its summary pushes the false narrative that lefties have been pushing for the last 44 hours or so: that the mere existence of Jamil Hussein means that The AP Has Been Vindicated on Everything, Because All Warbloggers Claimed He Was a Made-Up Person.

I know. The idea that Media Matters might distort something is hardly news. Still, you gotta call ’em on it occasionally.

UPDATE: Allah notes that Media Matters lied about him as well:

They’re also lying when they list Hot Air as one of the sites that refuses to admit its errors. I explicitly acknowledged that we were wrong about Hussein and apologized to our readers for having led them on a not-so-wild wild-goose chase. Does Media Matters link to that post? Of course not, because that wouldn’t fit their narrative. Instead they link to a post of mine from December answering Eric Boehlert’s columns about Jamilgate. They’re hoping their readers won’t actually follow the links but will instead simply deduce from the headlines they’ve provided that we responded to the new revelation about Hussein by picking on Eric Boehlert to change the subject. It’s a naked lie.

And just so we’re clear, I stand by every word of that December post. My point there was that the left doesn’t care if Hussein exists or not. They simply don’t care, and that’s been borne out by their reaction. Their interest in this story begins and ends with its usefulness as a gotcha against the right. One lefty blogger I read actually admitted that she didn’t know any of the details of the story — but felt moved to comment on it anyway. QED.

To borrow a favorite phrase from my favorite shameless, discredited sock puppeteer, Rick Ellison McEllensburg: this is who they are, and this is what they do. Just like I predicted in that comment of mine that you featured here earlier today.

Media Matters is absolutely shameless.

UPDATE x2: In the interest of thoroughness, I’ll note that the See Dubya post linked in the above graphic merely discusses the misquotation that I had discussed, and also discusses another falsehood that Boehlert had told about See Dubya.

That’s three lies by implication by Media Matters.

And the Rightwing Nuthouse post is from December 21, so it could not possibly be — and is not — a post wherein a warblogger fails to admit error.

So of four “warblogger” posts cited to prove the headline, all four are a lie. Clean sweep.

Like I said, they are shameless liars.

UPDATE x3: Allah has now posted on this.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:56 pm

I’m not even sure I know what a “meme” is, but I think these qualify:

Another Dopey Political Test

Allah (and several others) link to this dopey political test, designed to tell how you liberal or conservative you supposedly are. Like most of them, it’s lame. I refused to answer several questions on the ground that neither answer was accurate, or I had no opinion.

Allah says:

I scored a 25, which puts me ever so slightly to the left of … Andrew Sullivan.

I shall tender my resignation immediately.

I scored a 25 as well. I’ll consult the management here to see if it’s acceptable for me to continue blogging.

Five Things You Don’t Know About Me

The Baseball Crank tags me with the meme of discussing Five Things You Don’t Know About Me.

Because I discuss myself incessantly, I may have mentioned some of these before. So sue me.

1) Ben Hogan once told my dad that he had been watching me play golf, and thought I was a good golfer. This is when I was about 12.

2) I have gotten a hole-in-one twice. (These two items might cause you to conclude that I am still a good golfer. That would be an incorrect assumption.)

3) I won my school spelling bee three years running. I went to the Fort Worth city spelling bee twice, and tied for third place one of those times. In one of the city spelling bees, I lost on the word riverain. I can’t remember which word knocked me out when I tied for third.

4) I have written and recorded several songs, as well as some classical music. My recordings are God-awful, as my recording equipment was bad and my singing voice is worse. But my songs aren’t bad. I may post them here some day.

5) I once turned down the chance to have Daryl Gates on my jury. It was a misdemeanor DUI/resisting arrest case in Alhambra. The defense had exercised all of its peremptories, and I could have forced Gates onto the jury, as I had four peremptories left and there were only three people in the audience, including him. I decided not to do so because I was worried he would be a divisive figure, and that some members of the jury might vote not guilty in large part to oppose him. As it happens, the jury hung anyway, so I should have put him on there, just for the fun of it.

What Lawyers Appreciate

That Lawyer Dude tags me with the task of discussing “things that lawyers appreciate.” He appears to be specifically interested in things that prosecutors appreciate.

There are many things I love about being a prosecutor.

One is the fact that I can always do what I believe is right. Unlike civil lawyers, who are ethically required to do everything they legally can to hide unfavorable information, I am legally required to disclose that information. I do not prosecute people I don’t believe are guilty.

I appreciate my colleagues, who help me think of good angles to pursue and persuasive arguments to make; our staff, which is tremendously helpful — and they’re county employees!; and the smart judges who take the time to understand the law.

But I’d like to focus on my appreciation for honest and courteous defense attorneys. It is a fact of life that the criminal bar is, as a general rule, far more congenial than the civil bar — a stereotype, to be sure, but one that generally holds true. There are many, many defense attorneys I deal with whom I trust to tell me the truth. Sure, with the important issues it’s “trust and verify.” If a defense attorney I trust says his guy doesn’t have a strike prior, I’ll check the documents. But with most attorneys I deal with, when I check the documents, they will have been truthful. And on the little stuff — such as when the defense attorney says he has written proof that his or her client has completed a court-ordered class — it’s not even necessary to check the documents, if you have a defense attorney whose word you completely trust. That’s nice.

As to the last two memes, I’m supposed to “tag” five bloggers each. But I’ll leave it to volunteers in the comments. If we get five volunteers for each of the last two memes, I’ll link the posts once they’re all up.

Allahpundit: Hussein Doubter Karnak

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:11 pm

Allahpundit — whom Editor & Publisher dishonestly portrayed as a “Hussein doubter” — on November 30, 2006, noted the Ministry of the Interior’s confusion on its own spokesman’s name, because of “the conventions of Arab names,” and asked:

[I]f they could screw up their own spokesman’s name, is it possible that they’ve screwed up Jamil Hussein’s?

And guess what? According to the CPATT representative Bill Costlow, Allah’s speculation was right. Curt from Flopping Aces today quotes Costlow as giving the following explanation for the false denial that Jamil Hussein was an Iraqi police officer:

Media reports about Jamil didn’t use his name as he is known at work so we had trouble finding him (Jamil Gulaim as opposed to Jamil Hussein: the initial query we got from MNFI was for “Jamil Hussein”).

Costlow also says that Hussein is the same guy who recently denied to the MOI that he was the one who had been quoted by the AP.

I’m sure Editor & Publisher will rush to publish a piece commending Allahpundit for his predictive powers.

Ha! Just kidding. If they mention him again, they’ll just lie — again.

E&P Nonsense on Jamil Hussein

Filed under: General,Media Bias,War — Patterico @ 10:22 am

E&P has a couple of pieces about Jamil Hussein. One chronicles Kathleen Carroll’s response as the Winning Party in this Vicious and Irresponsible Attack on the AP‘s Credibility:

“I never quite understood why people chose to disbelieve us about this particular man on this particular story,” Carroll told E&P, referring to Jamil Hussein, an Iraq police captain. “AP runs hundreds of stories a day, and has run thousands of stories about things that have happened in Iraq.”

Let me explain it to you Ms. Carroll. It would be because there are many reasons to doubt the story. They are listed here and in the links in that post. The fact that you actually have a source doesn’t mean your story was correct, any more than Dan Rather’s documents were correct because they were provided by a real person and not cooked up by CBS.

Here’s another one I forgot to mention in that post: despite your claim that Jamil Hussein had always been a source of reliable information, he had indeed previously provided you with facts that your own reporters were unable to verify.

At least Carroll doesn’t paint all conservative blogs with the same brush:

When asked what she though [sic — the spellchecker doesn’t catch that! — Ed.] of bloggers who criticize other media in light of this incident, Carroll would not condemn all of them. “I wouldn’t say bloggers are this unanimous group, there are smart and responsible blogs that help you and there are those who are water cooler blogs,” she said. “They are not any more monochromatic than the more conventional news media.”

Not so for E&P, which runs an incredibly dishonest piece painting Allahpundit and me as “Hussein doubters” — and insinuating that I said Allah had no reason to apologize for being a Hussein doubter. That is complete horseshit, as I was praising Allah for being appropriately skeptical of the conservative claims regarding Hussein’s status as a policeman. Allah warned conservatives weeks ago that there could be a mix-up with names, and not to get carried away with claims about Hussein’s existence. I issued several caveats myself, repeatedly warning bloggers not to concentrate on claims of Hussein’s nonexistence. By painting Allah (and me) in a false light, E&P is on the same level as folks like Eric Boehlert, who misquoted See Dubya and falsely claimed that he’d never expressed any sympathy for a killed AP reporter. Apparently these people believe that if they feel that they are on the right side of the issue, they can say any damn thing they please about anyone, and no research is required.

I respond to this E&P piece in UPDATE x6 of this post, which sets forth many of the caveats Allahpundit and I had about assuming Jamil Hussein didn’t exist — caveats that we began to express on November 30, the first day that the Iraqi government gave us specific reason to doubt their claims on this issue.

There’s no question that I initially believed the MOI’s assertions and took them as fact. If you ask an employer whether someone works for them, you normally expect them to know. It’s obvious that believing them — and especially reporting their claims as fact in a post on November 27 — was a mistake on my part, as I have already acknowledged. I reversed my attitude of unquestioning acceptance within three days, but I should not have been so unquestioning to begin with. Mea culpa. It’s a good lesson for the future to be more skeptical of all sources. At this point I don’t think I’d accept the Iraqi government’s word about anything.

But that doesn’t excuse E&P painting cautious bloggers like Allah as being wild-eyed Hussein doubters. Allah is (in the words of my pal See Dubya) the conscience of the conservative blogosphere, and spends a lot of time trying to rein in some of the more rabid bloggers. He won’t say so, but E&P’s characterization of him as a rabid Hussein doubter is patently unfair. Not that they care.

Dafydd ab Hugh [UPDATE: Actually Sachi — see UPDATE below] has a monster post on this which is worth a read. I don’t necessarily agree with everything in it — you have to say that nowadays, or people will point to your link as a “favorable link” and attribute every last link in the other person’s post to you. Just another item from their bag of tricks they use to distort people’s words and slander them.

Finally, Allah has said, extensively, that questioning war reporting is not the same as saying everything is hunky-dory about the war. It quite obviously is not. Allah’s comment on this is worth reposting:

The only thing that really annoys me about the left blindly defending the AP here is the argument, made most emphatically by Eric Boehlert, that we’re using this incident somehow as a fig leaf for how bad things are in Iraq. If the AP turns out to be lying, the theory goes, we’ll declare all reportage from Iraq suspect by extension and conclude that things aren’t nearly as dire as they seem to be. Which, of course, is patent nonsense. There are Shiite death squads operating in hospitals in Iraq; if you knew nothing else about the country, you could glean from that fact alone how unspeakably horrible conditions are throughout the country.

We’re not using this story as a fig leaf for the war. On the contrary, it’s Boehlert — the same guy who wrote a book claiming that the media is, giggle, right-wing — who’s using the war as a fig leaf for the AP’s anti-American bias. According to him and his pals, to challenge the veracity of this story is to be guilty, essentially, of historical revisionism, of denying the brutality Iraqis are facing. Oh sure, they say en passant, if the AP got it wrong they should be called on the carpet for it — while in the same breath they dismiss the charges as a “smear campaign” or “baseless” or whatever conclusory pronouncement you prefer. They don’t care if the AP blew it or not. They say they do because they know they have to. It’s purely pro forma.

The truth is, and you can see this in Boehlert’s piece or Tom Zeller’s piece in the Times a few weeks ago, they think the AP story is true in the Larger Sense, as a microcosm of the brutality in Iraq, even if it’s not, you know, technically true. Which, my friend, is just another way of saying “fake but accurate.” That’s precisely the line they’re taking on this story, which is why it’s so outrageously disingenuous of them to pretend to give the slightest shit about whether Jamil Hussein is real or not. As far as they’re concerned, if he’s real, the story’s true; if he isn’t real, the story’s True. Heads they win, tails we lose. And the AP, if it’s guilty of bad facts to whatever greater or lesser degree, gets an almost completely free pass. It’s more important that Michelle Malkin be wrong, you see, than finding out if the world’s biggest news agency is passing off crap stories about the most important issue of our time. Repulsive.

Mark my words: unless Danziger comes back with a categorical denial that Jamil Hussein exists, they’ll trumpet whatever facts about him redound to the AP’s advantage even if on balance the AP looks bad. For instance, if it turns out he exists but he’s not a real cop, the news on the lefty blogs will be “HE EXISTS.” And then they’ll set about showing why it’s not a big deal that he’s not a real cop, even though the AP has been claiming he’s a real cop for months now. Anything they can do to shore up the AP’s credibility, any argument they can make, they’ll do it, because like I said above, that’s what this is really about — protecting the left-wing media from a credible charge of malfeasance, even though it wouldn’t mean much in the grander scheme of how awful things are in Iraq.

By the way, my comment in response to that read:

Did anyone ever claim that the AP had just made up this guy out of whole cloth?

I completely agree with Allah’s take on this. Things in Iraq are bad. In fact, in some ways, things may be worse than many realize, largely due to our decision to repeat the failures of the end of the Vietnam war. Nobody responsible is saying everything is great there, and the lefties who claim that we are, are liars. Pure and simple.

UPDATE: The Dafydd ab Hugh post is actually by Sachi — which means, Dafydd tells me, that Sachi wrote the first draft, and Dafydd did the editing and added about 1/3 of the content, spread throughout the piece. Dafydd tells me that every “Sachi” post is a collaboration along those lines.

UPDATE x2: OK, I’d better clarify that as well. Dafydd writes to say that my UPDATE might falsely suggest that Sachi doesn’t write her own stuff:

I assure you that normally, I merely *edit* what she wrote; I don’t rewrite it! All the core ideas, the
structure, the specific examples, the basic phrasing, and the research was Sachi’s.

When I edit Sachi (or anyone else), I rephrase somewhat here and there; I find a great argument that she buried and unbury it; I tell her she
needs to find some links to justify such and such (but I don’t find them for her: she’s perfectly capable of finding them, and I’m perfectly
capable of being the laziest slob on the face of the planet!); I tell her places she needs to sharpen her focus, because I don’t quite
understand what she’s driving at; I often make her rewrite… just like a newspaper editor.

Sorry for the confusion.

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