Saturday, February 10, 2007

 

Media Hijinks

Glenn Reynolds tips us off to PostWatch, who notes that in the history of Washington Post corrections, the one the Post felt compelled to run on their dishonest story on the Pentagon IG Report, , is one-of-a-kind. I reported on this yesterday, it's nice that somebody's made to backtrack today.

As Glenn says, it’s the Mother of All Corrections:
Correction to This Article
A Feb. 9 front-page article about the Pentagon inspector general's report regarding the office of former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith incorrectly attributed quotations to that report. References to Feith's office producing "reporting of dubious quality or reliability" and that the office "was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda" were from a report issued by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in Oct. 2004. Similarly, the quotes stating that Feith's office drew on "both reliable and unreliable reporting" to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq "that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration" were also from Levin's report. The article also stated that the intelligence provided by Feith's office supported the political views of senior administration officials, a conclusion that the inspector general's report did not draw. The two reports employ similar language to characterize the activities of Feith's office: Levin's report refers to an "alternative intelligence assessment process" developed in that office, while the inspector general's report states that the office "developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers." The inspector general's report further states that Feith's briefing to the White House in 2002 "undercuts the Intelligence Community" and "did draw conclusions that were not fully supported by the available intelligence." (Emphasis dadmanly]
The essence of the correction is that Walter Pincus and R. Jeffrey Smith falsely attributed quotes and conclusions to the IG Report, which were actually made by Sen Levin some two and a half years ago. But note in bold italics the extent of “false, but accurate” justification offered by the Post in annotating their correction. (Take out the portions the Post misreported in their original piece and I’m not sure there’s even a story, there.)

An innocent mistake? That strains credibility. How about the alternate and more realistic explanation that Sen. Levin seeded this story to Pincus and Smith, in planned concert with his Senate Hearings?

That’s how the leak and plant game is played, in the Nation’s Capital. Letf wing bias on the part of the media? Hardly. Much more accurate to call it intentional collusion.

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