Category Archives: Media

Stupid facts

Posted on August 14th, 2007 by lex


Tawanna Brawley. Duke LAX. Scott Thomas Beauchamp. The narrative.

It is one thing to assemble evidence and from them draw conclusions. It is quite another to start with a conclusion and then assemble supporting evidence. Too many reporters and their editors use the latter technique, because, as John Leo points out in his excellent Townhall column, they find the “story lines congenial” even when the facts – those stupid, stubborn facts – get in the way of “the narrative”:

If anyone ever starts a museum of horrible explanations, the one-liner by Newsweek’s Evan Thomas about his magazine’s dubious reporting on the Duke non-rape case — “The narrative was right but the facts were wrong” — is destined to become a popular exhibit, right up there with “we had to destroy the village to save it.”

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A foolish consistency

By Lex, Posted on March 7, 2007


Everything you need to know about the fall of a once-great newspaper – tangibly reflected in its declining market share and stock cap – can be found in the difference between the way that the editorial pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post dealt with the Scooter Libby trial result.

The Post – still holding firmly to a tether to reality – continues a welcome trend of soberly reflecting upon consequences, lamenting the fall from grace of a once-respected public figure while emphasizing the importance of the rule of law:

Particularly for a senior government official, lying under oath is a serious offense. Mr. Libby’s conviction should send a message to this and future administrations about the dangers of attempting to block official investigations.

But the Post went further, looking at the underlying “crime” that generated this investigation, trial and verdict, and admitting that the whole thing rested on a partisan tissue of lies:

Mr. Wilson was embraced by many because he was early in publicly charging that the Bush administration had “twisted,” if not invented, facts in making the case for war against Iraq. In conversations with journalists or in a July 6, 2003, op-ed, he claimed to have debunked evidence that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger; suggested that he had been dispatched by Mr. Cheney to look into the matter; and alleged that his report had circulated at the highest levels of the administration.

A bipartisan investigation by the Senate intelligence committee subsequently established that all of these claims were false — and that Mr. Wilson was recommended for the Niger trip by Ms. Plame, his wife. When this fact, along with Ms. Plame’s name, was disclosed in a column by Robert D. Novak, Mr. Wilson advanced yet another sensational charge: that his wife was a covert CIA operative and that senior White House officials had orchestrated the leak of her name to destroy her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson.

The Times, on the other hand, continues to breathe the noxious fumes of its own hopes and fears. Having quicky dispensed with what the jury did say, the paper fantasizes about what they wish it might have said:

(Libby) appears to have been trying to cover up a smear campaign that was orchestrated by his boss against the first person to unmask one of the many untruths that President Bush used to justify invading Iraq…

In July 2003, Mr. Wilson wrote in an Op-Ed article in The Times that what he had found did not support (the SOTU “16 words”) claim. The specter of a nuclear-armed Iraq was central to Mr. Bush’s case for rushing to war. So, the trial testimony showed, Mr. Cheney orchestrated an assault on Mr. Wilson’s credibility with the help of Mr. Libby and others. They whispered to journalists that Mr. Wilson’s wife worked at the C.I.A. and that nepotism was the reason he had been chosen for the trip.

What tortured sense of logic allows the editorial page editors to color Wilson’s serial mendacity as the actions of a brave whistleblower, while labeling the adminstration’s effort to rebut his fraud as a “smear” campaign? As the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation proved (pdf), Wilson lied at every step. The administration “assaulted” his credibility because he had none, and it was because his wife worked at CIA that he was chosen for the trip. How can a newspaper – of all institutions – fault the administration for telling the truth? Especially in an Op-Ed that at least ostensibly focuses on the importance of honesty?

All of these are inconvenient facts which makes the Time’s further histrionics  even more absurd – the fact that Guantanamo detainees have not been charged with crimes or afforded counsel  is again brought up, but not the fact that enemy prisoners of war do not have to be charged with crimes to be detained – they never have been. Equally revealing is the paper’s dark rumination that what “we still do not know is whether a government official used Ms. Wilson’s name despite knowing that she worked undercover.”

You’d think perhaps that a lack of charges after a thorough two year investigation by a determined Special Prosecutor might at least clue the paper into the possibility that “we still do not know” because no such crime was committed. But no: It would be better to spend the rest of our twilight years trying to prove a negative than for the paper to admit that they had been the willing and eager dupes of a partisan charlatan. The Times would rather continue to be wrong rather – and continue to propagate falsehoods – than admit to  having been wrong.

This is truly a foolish form of consistency.


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The NYT: Keeping it fair since 2001

By Lex

Posted on June 26, 2006


You know, in a “real” war, like the ones we fought against Germany and Japan during the last century, or even during the Cold War, the conflict was always being fought on at least two levels. At the top, and most visible level was the kinetic campaign – ground troops on the march, in trenches, or locked in mortal embraces and the great clash of fleets, both aerial and naval. But always, always operations were driven by intelligence: Shadow warriors prowling in darkened alleys, diplomatic dinners and locked offices, signals intelligence technicians casting broad electronic nets to capture waveform strands to weave into coherent wholes, long range reconnaissance photographs from patrol airplanes, from U-2 jets, from satellites. Huge teams of dedicated, driven men and women wove together all of these separate strands of reporting to create actionable intelligence on their adversary’s dispositions and intentions, his tactics, techniques and procedures. Because knowledge is power.

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Interacting with the traditional media

by lex,

Posted on January 21, 2006


The Radioblogger has an interview up between Hugh Hewitt and the Washington Post blog editor Jim Brady. Most of the top half of the article deals with the “meltdown” by some readers of the perpetually aggrieved set to the words of WaPoblog ombudsman Deborah Howell.

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Body Armor

By lex

Posted on Januarry 9, 2006


Just between you, me and the lamppost, it’d be hard to find an individual in the military less qualified to speak on the topic of body armor than your correspondent. We didn’t much go in for it, in the TACAIR community, trusting instead to speed of horse and maneuver, high technology and low cunning.

And yet, when I read this article in the NYT last week, claiming that: *

A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.

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Slow day for news?

By lex

Posted on April 4, 2006

Why not make some!

I have been talking with a producer of the NBC Dateline show and he is in the process of filming a piece on anti-Muslim and anti-Arab discrimination in the USA. They are looking for some Muslim male candidates for their show who would be willing to go to non-Muslim gatherings and see if they attract any discriminatory comments or actions while being filmed.

After all: They’ve done it before.

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by lex

on Sun – July 25, 2004 at 03:48 PM


I’m almost (but clearly, not entirely) speechless.

Daniel Okrent, the Public Editor (don’t say ombudsman) of the NYT asks the question, “Is the New York Times a liberal newspaper?”

And then he immediately answers it: “Of course it is .”

Oh. Well then. I guess we can all go and talk about something else now.

But, it does kind of bring new meaning to the motto, “All the news that’s fit to print.”

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