More evidence of journalistic dis-integrity from Media
By Brad Friedman on 9/25/2004, 1:49pm PT  

Yesterday, The Washington Times lied in a story about a John Kerry appearance on CNN's Crossfire in 1997 where they claimed, after viewing a copy of the tape, that John Kerry had said: "We know we can't count on the French. We know we can't count on the Russians. ... We know that Iraq is a danger to the United States, and we reserve the right to take pre-emptive action whenever we feel it's in our national interest."

Unfortunately, the piece was a complete lie, as blogged yesterday right here, made even more destructive as it was picked up by Drudge, and thus predictably carried by the rest of the Rightwing Echo Chamber (Rush, Sean, Fox, the wingnut Blogosphere, etc.) Drudge, predictably, has not bothered to carry the "Correction" posted today.

Today, The Times has just made matters worse by running a "Correction" to the story right here.

Here is the letter I just sent off to Mr. McCaslin (following up a note I sent yesterday) along with a CC to his Managing Editor. Feel free to do the same!

From: Brad Friedman [mailto:Brad.Friedman@cville.com]
Sent: Saturday, September 25, 2004 1:34 PM
To: 'jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com'
Cc: 'fcoombs@washingtontimes.com'; 'drudge@drudgereport.com'
Subject: You correct the story with another lie??

Mr. McCaslin,

It's nice that you attempted some correction to your grossly incorrect story on Kerry. It's further evidence of the example that Republicans follow their "President" by blaiming things on anyone but themselves when things go wrong.

Your correction to your erroneous story today begins with: "Due to erroneous information from Rep. Peter T. King..."

And yet, in your original incorrect story, you made it quite clear that "While no 'Crossfire' transcripts from 1997 are available, Mr. King in recent days produced a tape of the show, sharing it with...this Inside the Beltway column for publication."

You were wrong that no "Crossfire" transcripts were available (a point you didn't bother to correct at all in your "Correction") and more to the point, you said you were given access to the tape itself! The tape that supposedly contained the Kerry quote that you completely made up!

And now you are blaming Rep. King for your errors?

Might I remind you, you are the supposed journalist here. It is your responsibility to get the facts straight. And since you had them right in front of you (the actual tape of the show, and the transcript as easily available from Lexus/Nexus) you bear the responsibility for getting the story entirely wrong. Not Rep. King.

The fact that your error went out over Drudge, and subsequently every Rightwing parrot in the Echo Chamber certainly compounds the problem. The fact that your paper and others in the Chamber have the unmitigated gall to call for Rather's resignation when he made an error by being too hasty with releasing a story he thought to be true, versus a story that you clearly made up out of whole cloth is beyond appalling. But unfortunately, it's also symptomatic of both the Rightwing Echo Chamber, and, in your passing the buck to someone else, symptomatic of precisely what's wrong with the "Leadership" in this country.

I look forward to you now correcting the Correction and taking the responsibility you have in the matter. Beyond that, I'd hope that your Managing Editor would show the appropriate journalistic ethics and fire you, since it's clear you either out and out lied when you indicated you had a tape of the program, or you out and out lied when you printed a quotation from the show that simply didn't exist.

If newspapers will allow writers to continue contributing to their paper after indisputable lying in those same pages, then all journalistic credibility for such a paper is wholly and irretrievably lost.
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Brad Friedman
Los Angeles, CA USA
Brad.Friedman@cville.com