Monday, November 5, 2007

Why Lie When There's Truth to Expose?

When a lack of talent is substituted for good sense.

Last Wednesday, Philip Klein writes in The American Spectator, while researching a column about the growing hatred of Rudy Giuliani among liberals, I reviewed a portion of Olbermann's show from the prior evening in which he and Arianna Huffington discussed why Giuliani was a liar:
The jumping off point for their conversation was a comment Giuliani reportedly made in which he said that leading Democrats want to invite Osama bin Laden to the White House. The sensationalistic remarks had been first reported by the Associated Press on Monday, and caused a stir among anti-Giuliani bloggers. But when reviewing Olbermann's show, which broadcast a video clip of Giuliani's comments, I noticed that Giuliani didn't say Osama, but actually said Assad. As in, Syrian President Bashar Assad. This stripped the statement of any of its shock value, because Assad was one of the leaders who Barack Obama has, in fact, said he would be willing to meet with in Washington, with no preconditions, within the first year of his presidency. After discovering the error, I did a blog post reporting my findings, and assumed that all of the news outlets that erroneously reported what Giuliani said would have to issue corrections.

The reason I made that assumption is that I had spent more than three years as a reporter with Reuters, and though it may be hard for some to believe, I was required to issue an immediate correction whenever I made an obvious factual error, no matter how minor. It was always a considerable embarrassment to have my name appear under a headline that began with the all-in-caps word "CORRECTED," but I understood that part of being a journalist was owning up to errors as soon as they were brought to my attention. (Some examples from the archives here and here.)

The first few hours following my initial post on the error reaffirmed my understanding of standard journalistic practice. Andrew Sullivan, who had lambasted Giuliani based on the inaccurate remarks, issued a correction. The AP also corrected its story. It seemed natural to me that Olbermann would quickly have to follow suit. But the only mention of Giuliani on Wednesday night's show was yet another segment attacking him.
Read it.

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