Lorie Byrd has a terrific column up over at Townhall – and I’d say that even if she didn’t quote me in it!
In my piece below there is some mention made of the fact that the NY Times, having reported dire and gloomy economic news three days earlier, was now – deeper in the paper, natch – writing a somber and rather quiet, head-ducking report countering the first and admitting that…”ummm…the economic news is…ummm…good. Shhhhh. Okay, never mind what we said before.”
Lorie’s piece focuses on the media’s habit of meekly whispering what it would rather not report, and she recalls the great Gilda Radner’s character from SNL…an offended citizen who never got the story right, (“What’s all this I’m hearing about presidential erections? We have enough presidential monuments!”) and who, when advised that she’d been mistaken, would smile sweetly into the camera and say, “never mind…”
Actually we have not gotten a “never mind” out of the mainstream media yet in the case of Valerie Plame. The mainstream media will probably never tell the true story behind Joe’s grand frog marching fantasy. It is an incredible story really — amazing that so many in the media regurgitated Wilson’s conspiracy theories as if they were fact. It is amazing that the story took off at all in spite of contradictory statements from Bob Novak from the beginning, who claimed that Plame’s identity did not come from a partisan gunslinger and was only offered in response to his question about why Wilson might have been chosen for the Niger trip. [...]
Democrats have a page in their playbook that they use often and it works almost every time. Make an assertion, even when it is contradicted by facts (in this case by Novak’s statement from day one) and then repeat it over and over again until it becomes conventional wisdom. When the facts emerge and it is clear that most, if not the entire thing, was a liberal fantasy, the damage will have been done and since the media was so instrumental in spreading the misinformation, they will call very little attention to the correction.
Lorie is writing like a houseafire here, and you’ll want to read the whole thing.
I will add that a few conservative bloggers had a little bit of a “never mind” moment the other day, concerning the incident in San Francisco wherein Omeed Aziz Popal, apparently driven half-mad by his family – among other things – drove his SUV around, intentionally striking people. First reports were sketchy, but when it was revealed that Popal had struck near a Synagogue, lots of antennae went up – including, I must admit – mine. First sources for various bloggers were inconsistant in advising whether or not the affected neighborhood was predominantly Jewish. Some bloggers – including, I must admit – this one, engaged in the very ill-advised practice of “writing while angry,” and before they had the full story. I regret to say it, but my own table-pounding was not too far removed from Miss Letilla’s, and I am rather embarrassed by it. I did qualify the “Jewish neighborhood” section of my piece, but I still blew it by going off half-cocked. While I might not equate it with reporting that 10,000 people were dead in the aftermath of Katrina, it was not my best hour. Lucky for me I haven’t much influence in the world outside my little house. (And even there, sometimes…well, sigh.)
I’m not the only blogger taking a second look at the initial response to the story. Michelle Malkin has a long, thoughtful and clearly outlined review of the story, how it went down, where she felt things were weak or strong. It’s a good piece and she also offers within it, a link to relevent background on Afghani social customs and constraints. She concludes: I will call Popal, the crazed thug accused of mowing down innocent men, women, and children on the streets of San Francisco, many names. But for the moment, “jihadi” isn’t one of them. You’ll want to read it all – it’s very good.
I’m trying to remember when a “big-time-official journalist” seriously addressed their screw ups (just think, Dan Rather might still be behind his desk at CBS if he’d managed to do it)…and if someone has seen a left-ward leaning blog walking back a piece and admitting to “writing while angry” or simply messing up, I’d love to see it. But I don’t mind admitting when I make a mistake, and I rather like what Bryan Preston says in Michelle’s piece: It’s good to be wrong about these things sometimes. Better that than that we have yet another freelance jihadi that the government isn’t being upfront about. Like…the El Al shooter, for instance, where it took more than a year for the government to finally admit that the guy was motivated by the usual Islamonazi nonsense.
From my own perspective…not one many will share with me, I think, because it’s probably a little oddball…it’s good to be wrong about these things once in a while, too, because it keeps you humble. It’s easy – particularly when you’re writing a blog and answerable only to those whom you choose to answer – to start thinking you’re always correct. But no one is always right, and it’s a valuable thing in the end, I think, to be able to say…”yeah…I could have handled that better.” It helps you to do so, next time around.
UPDATE: Oh, look. The WaPo sort of says “Never mind” about the Wilson/Plame lies. It would be good if they spent a little more ink on it, maybe remind folks that the UK STILL stands by its yellowcake intel. But you know they won’t. They wrote:
…it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame’s CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming — falsely, as it turned out — that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush’s closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It’s unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.
Yeah…it really is. Nothing like distracting a president during an unprecedented sort of war with crap like that…
Meanwhile, The NY Times is pretending the story never happened or something. They’ve been very quiet.
Michelle Malkin has much more