September 09, 2004

Our Fourth Estate in Action

I'm geeky enough to read the AP on weekends but even I missed this retraction. The blogosphere has been abuzz on this story but I did not realize a formal retraction had run.

This link is to Partisan, but I don't think they made up an AP story. Even 60 minutes might blanch at that.

The Associated Press has retracted its Friday afternoon report that a crowd at a Bush rally in West Allis, Wisc., booed when President Bush offered ex-President Clinton best wishes for a speedy recovery from coronary bypass surgery scheduled for next week.

In a report that moved on the AP wire at 9:27 a.m. Saturday, the AP said:

"This is a correction to an incorrect story posted by AP on Friday stating the crowd booed the President when he sent his good wishes. The crowd, in fact, did NOT boo."

A transcript of Bush's remarks released by the White House noted applause after Bush offered Clinton "best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery."

ABC Radio Network news also confirmed that the Clinton reference was applauded, not jeered.

Boos, applause, near Cambodia, in Cambodia, proportional fonts in 1973 -- that's an awful lot for reporters to keep up with!

Mises would have loved blogs. In a bunch of bloggers, there's someone who'll recognize the forgery that 60 Minutes or the Boston Globe misses, and there's somebody who'll find somebody who was in the crowd. Distributed decision making -- it works!

UPDATE: LGF has recreated the memo in MS-Word, pretty suspicious...

Posted by jk at September 9, 2004 12:08 PM

Must be fair: the forgery charge is not proven, but I think it looks bad for my friends over at 60 minutes. We'll (tick...tick) see (tick...tick) what happens (tick...tick...)

Posted by: jk at September 9, 2004 12:31 PM

It is interesting to me that retractions, which are fairly common cause no undue harm against the media outlet. Being first to report, or "break" a story comes with large kudos and often increases market share. Couple these together and it is not hard to see why fact checks, even those that require only minimal time are not considered so important. Only when we consumers vote for accuracy over speed will this change.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 9, 2004 12:58 PM


The big media are still checking out the allegations in "Unfit for Command," they have had 128 days to break this big scoop.

Stories that harm Republicans are trotted out with little checking; stories that might hurt the Democrats get more scrutiny.

Bloggers routinely do a quick Google search and discover big errors in a big media piece. They have staff. There is less interest in accuracy over idealism.

Posted by: jk at September 9, 2004 01:10 PM

I'll let the vast left wing media conspiracy dog lie, but if the Globe or Unfit for Command authors are found to be in error, what will be the consequence? None I bet. Of course they have caused their damage, so who is to argue that false claims don't pay?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 9, 2004 01:50 PM

The swifties raised and spent $500,000 -- and were supported by blogs and FOX News, so they got their message out. Its probity is currently in the eye of the beholder (another media failing).

A disgruntled commander gets a big 60 Minutes interview, a front page story in the Boston Globe, and, near as I can tell today, all day on the AP headlines on Yahoo. The only money spent was 12 photocopies at Kinko's to provide verisimilitude to his forgery.

Kitty Kelly has THREE interviews in three days on the Today show for a book with a lot less documentation than O'Neill's.

No bias: accuse a Republican and get the front page, accuse a Democrat and you can buy paid advertising. Let that dog lie if you want, it seems to be barking loudly and biting passers-by in the ass.

Posted by: jk at September 9, 2004 02:08 PM

And the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth incorporated in such a way as to be liable for libel. These people used their real names and have really put themselves on the line. Much more chance of consequences than the crowd.

Posted by: jk at September 9, 2004 02:12 PM

" seems to be barking loudly and biting passers-by in the ass." Great, I am still laughing.

The swifties didn't get airtime on all the major networks? Seems like the story was everywhere for about two weeks, and is still puttering along, thanks in part to folks trying to debunk the claims. In effect you get a double whammy these days, make up a memo or a claim, get publicity for it; wait a week for people to debunk it and get a whole other round of stories - more publicity. Since whole portions of the population believes that the other side will do anything to smear theirs opinion doesn't change if the charges are proven (or should I say "proven") false, the "provers" are just partisan hacks. Sadly I think we are in for a lot more of this from both sides.

I just about choked up my beer when Zell Miller made his rant about the Dems determined to pull this president down. Hmm Zell, Whitewater or Lewinski sound familiar to you?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 10, 2004 01:47 PM

We're here to please.

The establishment media did not cover the Swift Boat Vets. Hoping that the story would just go away. The blogosphere and FOX News picked it up and suddenly, it was too well known to ignore. They then tried to discredit the claims, thus providing a little publicity.

Instapundit pointed out that the Charlotte paper (your old stompin' ground?) ran a cartoon about the Cambodia story, assuming its readers understood, before the story had received any coverage in the NYTimes, broadcast news or even the Charlotte paper.

I will stand by my comparison. These guys got prime coverage right out of the box without spending a dime. The Swifties spent a half a mil and waited for their spark to catch fire.

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2004 02:30 PM
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