Monday, January 19, 2004

Is this News or Opinion?

Joanna Weiss wrote an article in today's Boston Globe: Clark garners support from McGovern, Moore.

The title of the article makes it seem like it's going to report some good news for Clark.

Maybe it should have been titled: Clark garners support from McGovern, Moore, but not from this writer.

I'm wondering how she can use some of the language in the article, state some things as fact, and still have her story in the news section instead of the opinion page

What was her assignment?

Did her editors ask her to write an article about these Clark endorsements, but make sure you say something negative before every positive thing?

Did her editors ask her to make sure she restates untrue attacks on Clark too?

Let's take a closer look at what she wrote:
Just as opponents have started renewing questions about his opposition to the Iraq war and his Democratic credentials, retired Army General Wesley K. Clark has been collecting endorsements from some of the most partisan, antiwar Democrats in the book.
[ Those questions about Clark's opposition to the war have been shown to be inaccurate and based on an incomplete transcript of Clark's testimony to Congress. Drudge selectively quoted Clark's testimony and misrepresented what he said. Others picked up on these inaccurate Drudge items. ]
On Saturday, filmmaker Michael Moore, who offered an antiwar rant at the 2003 Oscars, riled up a crowd of 2,000 for Clark at a raucous rally in Pembroke.
[ Rant is too strong a word for Michael Moore's acceptance speech for his doccumentary Oscar. ]
Last week brought attacks by both the Republican National Committee and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, who rehashed some of Clark's congressional testimony from 2002, calling Saddam Hussein a "threat," and claimed it showed a flip-flop in his position on the war.

Clark said the quotes were taken out of context and that his full statements support his continued view that the war was unnecessary and Hussein did not present an imminent threat.
[ If you check the facts on these attacks, you'll find that they are taken out of context and inaccurate. These two paragraphs could have been written differently. Maybe something like: "Once again Clark's position on the war was misrepresented by the RNC and Senator Joe Lieberman" ]
In prepared remarks yesterday, McGovern, a World War II veteran, didn't discuss Clark's testimony or the Republican charges.
[ What are you implying? ]
Moore, meanwhile, has raised eyebrows with his fiercely partisan books. In "Dude, Where's My Country?", Moore alleges that the Bush administration smuggled Osama bin Laden's family out of the United States shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, while a ban on international fights was in effect. News reports from the time said the bin Ladens left Sept. 18, after the ban had been lifted.
[ You neglect to mention that while all air travel in the US was forbidden after the attack, members of the bin Laden family were flown around the skies of America to Texas, then Washington, and then Boston. Then on Sept 18th they were flown to Paris. ( page 20 Dude, Where's My Country )]

I sent her an email this morning, Joanna responds and I reply:
Steve -
Thanks for your note and for reading the Globe.

Thanks for the prompt reply.

I would be happy to forward you a copy of Clark's September 26, 2002 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, though I must warn you it's quite long. You can read the whole thing through and determine for yourself whether Clark said that Saddam Hussein was a threat.

I already read that, thanks.

He did say Saddam was a threat but not an imminent threat.

You can read more about the problem of taking excerpts from that testimony here:

I just didn't like reading about those attacks again. Having them brought up in your article gives them new life, when they should be dead already.

I'm not sure what your point is about Michael Moore's charge about the Bin Laden's, but I can refer you to a Boston Globe article from September 20, 2001, headlined "Bin Laden Kin Flown Back to Saudi Arabia," that describes the Bin Laden family's exit. I'd be happy to forward that to you, as well.

My point was that you say Moore says the bin Ladens flew out of the US shortly after Sept 11, and that that conflicts with what the news reports say.

In fact, Moore and the news reports agree that the bin Ladens flew out Sept 18th.

They just flew around the US between the 12th and the 18th.

As for my assignment, as always in a presidential campaign, it is to watch what happens in a presidential campaign and put it in its full context.


Just try to take it easy on Wes next time.

Maybe put the positive things about him first and then the negative things second?

Update: Snopes has the true story on the bin Laden's flights.

AP writer Tom Raum covers the same story - Nice job.

Reuter's David Morgan's version - note his first paragraph, sound familiar?

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