What Are Reporters Supposed To Do Again?

The LA Times gives quite possibly the lamest excuse for not checking their facts ever given by a reporter:

A news analysis about the new Iraqi government in Sunday’s Section A stated that outgoing administrator L. Paul Bremer III did not give a farewell speech to the country. His spokesman has since said that Bremer taped an address that was given to Iraqi broadcast media. The spokesman said the address was not publicized to the Western news media.

Well, apparently the LA Times‘s Baghdad bureau couldn’t have turned on a bloody television and watched it. The argument that unless Bremer’s staff personally handed them a tape they would never have noticed it is either disingenous or a sign of absolute incompetence.

Last time I checked, reporters were supposed to go out and hunt for facts rather than hoping that they get a press release for someone. Then again, I didn’t go to journalism school like the big boys, so what do I know?

18 thoughts on “What Are Reporters Supposed To Do Again?

  1. Of course the media can’t be bothered to look for the facts, if those facts don’t fit their goal of making Bush look bad…

  2. Considering that just Tuesday, your Republican buddies at the New York Post just printed a front-page article about Kerry picking Gephardt as his running mate, maybe this isn’t the best time for conservative stooges to lecture the “liberal media” about fact checking. 😉

  3. So the NYPost screwed up–so what? It’s not like anyone believed them for long.

    On the other hand, the LAT has barely issued a retraction, and the actual story of the handover is not well known. Still.

  4. Mark:
    The New York Post apologized profusely for their gaffe – they didn’t try to come up with any sort of excuse, and took full responsibility for it. The LA Times’s mea non culpa above is essentially blaming Bremer’s staff for not depositing information on their doorstep – as though noone in the LA Times Baghdad bureau should have been expected to engage in active news gathering and keep on eye on the local media. Given their attitude in this matter, maybe we shouldn’t expect them to actively gather news.

  5. Mark: Your argument fails logic 101 class.

    First, regardless of what the Post did, that does not in any way excuse the LA Times.

    Second, the Post is hardly the standard bearer for the conservative movement, and to tie the two together makes no sense.

    Third, as others have noted above, the NY Post published a very obvious front page apology for their mistake, while the LATimes buried their correction and even at that skirted taking responsibility.

    Fourth, the NY Post error was a genuine error and in no way tarnished Kerry; the LA Times error is so careless that it seems deliberate and when taken in context with the other errors of the LA Times, seems to be a pattern of advancing their liberal agenda and trying to discredit Bush.

    Fifth, when taken in the even larger context of the mainstream media as a whole, this is one more example of liberal media bias. It’s amazing how all of the errors made are always against Bush, and equally amazing how the corrections get far less print than the original error.

  6. Another Thought, I didn’t realize I was making an “argument”, just stating an observation. If you’d like an argument though, here’s one. For conservatives to bang their spoons on their high chairs about media incompetence two days after their ideological brethren at the New York Post splashed erroneous information all over their cover is kind of like an elephant trying to hide behind a flagpole. Say what you want about the poor judgment exercised by the LA Times, in no way can it compare to the embarrassment of a full front-page gaffe like the Post’s.

  7. Mark:

    To quote this comment of yours above:

    Considering that just Tuesday, your Republican buddies at the New York Post just printed a front-page article about Kerry picking Gephardt as his running mate, maybe this isn’t the best time for conservative stooges to lecture the “liberal media” about fact checking.

    Your comment begins with an observation, and ends with an hypothesis, which the observation is used to support. You were making an argument. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you were making an argument all the same.

    That out of the way, in the real world media outlets with political allegiances throughout the political spectrum will make errors. They can be evaluated roughly on these criteria:
    (1) Frequency of errors made.
    (2) Gravity of errors made.
    (3) Response when their errors are brought to their attention.

    To compare the LA Times and Post errors in this one instance, we’ll take criterion (1) out of the discussion. This leaves criteria (2) and (3).

    As for criterion (2), the LA Times might as well be trying to excuse not reporting on a full solar eclipse visible on the US west coast because their staff spent all day inside. I’d rate the NY Post and the LA Times errors as similarly egregious, but we can agree to disagree on that point.

    As for criterion (3), I think the LA Times’ approach of implicitly blaming the source of their non-story for not giving them news is at best unprofessional; after all, aren’t media outlets supposed to be gathering, collating, and editing news and giving it to us? In contrast, the NY Post isn’t blaming anyone but themselves.

    The NY Post admitted it was their error up front. The professional thing to do when you make a big time mistake on the job is to own up it, not blame it on someone else. I think the NY Post comes off much better than the LA Times with respect to criterion (3), and therefore comes off much better overall in this comparison.

  8. Mark: one more difference between the two errors:
    The Post error was harmless to Kerry…it did him no political harm at all.

    In contrast, the LA Times error, especially the way it was worded, was designed to make Bush look bad…and given how many more people read the front page than the correction page, it is likely the LAT error has done Bush some measure of political harm…

  9. Spoons: The problem is that journalism school is an indoctrination process in left wing philosophy.

  10. Hey Mark, you drooling liberal lackwit, are you too stupid to see the difference between a blunder by reporters trying to jump the gun on the VP pick [Gephardt? Vilsack? Edwards? Hillary?], and the tendentious framing of the LAT story. Bremer’s farewell speech was on both Iraqi TV and CNN. The LAT, like NYT, has the journalistic integrity of Pravda or Izvestia in the bad old days–lies from top to bottom.

  11. John, journalistic integrity means gets the right story even if it takes an extra research or extra waiting, not simply crossing your fingers and hoping you got it right when you go to press. Fox News calling Florida prematurely for Bush….the New York Post falsely calling Gephardt was Kerry’s running mate choice. I’m starting to notice a pattern of erroneous predicting coming from the media’s right flank. How about you?

  12. The problem is that journalism school is an indoctrination process in left wing philosophy.

    And it’s what, your time in journalism school that gives you this impression? Your intimate familiarity with the nation’s top journalism programs?

  13. You really have to hand it to folks like Mark: “Fox News calling Florida prematurely for Bush…

    At 7:49 PM EST on Tuesday night NBC called Florida for Gore while the polls were still open in the Florida panhandle. By 8 PM, CBS, CNN, Fox and ABC had followed suit.

    Around 10 PM the networks began retracting their calls.

    So when did Fox “prematurely” call Flordia for Bush? At 2:16 AM EST Wednesday morning. The other networks quickly followed suit.

    And as for Bremer’s farewell address to the Iraqi’s, CNN aired much of it the day of the transfer — June 28, 2004. The LAT Baghdad bureau didn’t have to do anything — the LA office could have watched it and/or read the transcript numerous times instead of misreporting it as late as July 4th. (The same goes for the Washington Post.)

  14. “The problem is that journalism school is an indoctrination process in left wing philosophy.”

    Leave out the word “journalism” and that statement still holds true for the most part. While corporations tend to donate to both parties to court favor on both sides of the legislature, take a look at how much the NEA and other unions spend to endorse democrats and persuade their members to vote for them.

  15. Trice, both parties are friendly to corporations (although the Republicans are CONSIDERABLY friendlier) and the MNCs recognize that the Dems will butter their bread if the price is right and peddle influence through donating to both parties. The NEA, on the other hand, has absolutely no interest in donating a penny to a political party whose stated goal is to tear down public education limb by limb. If the Republicans had their way, every teacher in America would be wearing a habit and a crucifix, with church bells acting as school bells for every classroom. Not exactly something the NEA would want to pay for.

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