Thursday, September 28, 2006

More Scuzzy Reporting From The New York Times

Imagine your reaction to this news item:

President Bush Dines On Fetuses

(Washington)--President George Bush is a killer of the unborn. The president routinely eats fetuses for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, said a source close to the White House.

The president, a staunch anti-abortionist, jokes, laughs and consumes the fetuses with zest while urging his dining companions to do the same, the source said.

The source,
who is familiar with White House documents on the matter, revealed to The New York Times that fetuses have been eaten at the White House every day during President Bush's six years in office.

"The carnage is massive and shocking. It's pure barbarism," the source, who attests to having seen Mr. Bush mutilate and consume hundreds of fetuses, said.

Leading Democrats in Washington were outraged by the president's barbarism, and called on him to resign immediately to spare the nation humiliation on the world stage.

"All Americans are sickened, shocked and horrified by these reports, and I demand that President Bush resign and limit the massive damage he has already done to America's image abroad," said one leading Democrat who asked not to be identified.

When confronted by The Times about his barbarism, Mr. Bush said he enjoyed his meals of fetuses. ....

Your initial impulse would probably be to throw up over such a story. Then you'd hyperventilate and stomp your feet and shout and scream and sputter and stammer demands that the president be impeached and jailed. In short, you'd be like everyone else who is routinely duped by sloppy, poorly researched, incomplete, amateurish, and biased reporting practiced by The Times and most other media outlets in this country.

You'd be duped, exactly as we all were with The Times' sloppy and amateurish reporting on the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the war in Iraq and its effect on global terrorism. It is reporting that scandalously relies on unidentified sources to smear people, destroy their reputations and advance the personal agendas of the cowards who selectively leak information that is incomplete, designed to distort the truth, and who refuse to put their names to such information.

The NIE that President Bush declassified this week was not as one-sided as the initial report in The Times indicated. That's the way it always is with leaked information. Leakers, especially anonymous sources, always have an agenda and they never give reporters the full story. They tell reporters what they want reporters to hear and report on. They're usually out to get co-workers, bosses, rival politicians or rival political parties. Good reporters and good newspapers no longer use anonymous sources in their stories.

The Albuquerque Tribune, for instance, stopped quoting anonymous sources in stories way back in 1987. The decision to do so was easy. It is legally dangerous, and, more importantly, immoral to let someone anonymously attack another person in a newspaper story. It is immoral to not let the attackee know and confront the person who is attacking them.

The Trib's editors and reporters understood that anonymous sources distort the truth and that using them could have led to grossly inaccurate stories getting into the paper. A paper's first obligation is to be accurate, and that means getting the entire story, not just the part the source wants out.

Here's what is shocking about The Time's NIE story: The reporter never saw the document that was reported on. The source told the reporter what was in it. And, we now know, that the source conveniently left some things out. A good reporter should never go to print on such an important story without demanding to see the actual document. And if they don't have the document, they shouldn't go with someone's interpretation of it. That's wrong, reckless and dangerous.

To get an idea of how dangerous and reckless it is to use anonymous sources and how those sources distort facts, just look at our fictional news story.

George Bush eats fetuses. What the source failed to tell the reporter was that Bush dined on eggs, tomatoes, beans and other veggies filled with seeds. Eggs, if fertiized and left underneath chickens, will hatch into little chickens. We just happen to eat them before they grow feathers. Seeds contain plant embryos. If watered and put in the ground, they'll grow into plants.

The documents referred to by the source are just the White House menus. The mutilation that is mentioned is just the fact that Bush cuts up his eggs, tomatoes and vegies before eating them.

That's how easy it can be for a source who has a willing accomplice in a lousy reporter to smear someone. Papers shouldn't let it happen, and they should all ban the use of anonymous sources.

Most good papers--and that's small and mid-sized papers all over the country--long ago stopped publishing stories based on anonymous sources. It's the big ones like the Times that continue to smear people based on the comments of cowards who don't have the guts to identify themselves.

You can get back at The Times by smearing them with with cheap, sleazy, sloppily researched reports based on the comments of anonymous sources.

Here's a start:

The New York Times is a disreputable publication that goes out of its way to smear people based on incomplete, inaccurate and reckless reporting, anonymous sources said....

Actually, we can't base that comment on anonymous sources because, well, it's true.


Anonymous bigfoot said...

Scuzzy? Scuzzy? The pot calls the kettle black, and you, Dennis, are the pot. Bad bad bad.

As you probably remember, there are certain rights that journalists and others have under the Bill of Rights. You, of all people, should be interested in protecting those rights. I DO agree that sources should not be used irresponsibly. And some journalists -- and other human beings -- have done that.

So hey, feel free to quote me on that - as an unidentified source....

3:37 PM  

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