Kerry Circa '97: Corrected Edition

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Back on September 24, I blogged a short item from the Washington Times (via Drudge) about a 1997 Crossfire show in which John Kerry reportedly stumped for unilateral, preemptive war by saying:

"We know we can't count on the French. We know we can't count on the Russians," said Mr. Kerry. "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."

Now the Times says that its source for the quote, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who had appeared on the same show with Kerry, gave them bad 411:

In reference to a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding access to Iraqi weapons sites, Mr. Kerry actually said: "I think that's our great concern [-] where's the backbone of Russia, where's the backbone of France, where are they in expressing their condemnation of such clearly illegal activity [-] but in a sense, they're now climbing into a box and they will have enormous difficulty not following up on this if there is not compliance by Iraq."

Later, referring to French and Russian reservations on the use of force, Mr. Kerry said: "There's absolutely no statement that they have made or that they will make that will prevent the United States of America and this president or any president from acting in what they believe are the best interests of our country."

Whole thing here.

One question worth pursuing, re: the journalism angle of it all: Why didn't the Times actually check out the tape of show which it said exists? If you're supposed to check it out when your mother tells she you loves you, a similar level of scrutiny should apply to political sources telling you exactly what you want to hear.

[Props to reader John Evans and others for pointing to the correction.]

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  1. Sounds like a Democratic set up to me. Does Rep. King know any mysterious women?

  2. Um, as journalists, “Washington Times” and “Drudge” should send up bright red flags for you guys.

    Google should be your friend, too…

    http://www.google.com/search?q=kerry+crossfire+france&start=0&start=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

    Hits 1 and 4 are from March of this year.

  3. Why didn’t the Washington Times check the transcript before running the quote? How about, why didn’t YOU check the transcript before running the quote?

    Of course, the first question is a serious one, than needs to be answered. The Moonie Times gets even more egg on its face for this screw up.

    The second one, otoh, is just a snarky quip, and no one is going to hold you to the same standard, because you’re “just a blog.” Good for rasing questions, but not anything to take terribly seriously as a news organization. Soft bigotry of low expectation? Yeah, I guess so.

    Even the sleaziest player in the real media, a pretty good description of the Washington Times, will forever be held to a higher standard then even the best, most reliable blog.

  4. How dare you question this? Everyone knows that Kerry is a flip-flopper, never believes anything for more than 5 minutes, so it follows that any position you claim for him to have had is in fact one he had at one point. Also, as a Democrat he is evil, and Good Americans know that _anything_ is permitted against the Evil—shooting by the police for looking like he’s might be a black man with a gun, beating and rape by other captured Evildoers, lying about their life and positions…this is War, and war lets you do anything your little heart might desire, if you’re Good.

    How can you follow a man like John “I Occasionally Learn Something” Kerry? We need to follow God’s President as he resolutely and unwaveringly leads us, whether it be to a better tomorrow or straight over the cliff.

  5. How dare you question this? Everyone knows that Kerry is a flip-flopper, never believes anything for more than 5 minutes, so it follows that any position you claim for him to have had is in fact one he had at one point. Also, as a Democrat he is evil, and Good Americans know that _anything_ is permitted against the Evil—shooting by the police for looking like he’s might be a black man with a gun, beating and rape by other captured Evildoers, lying about their life and positions…this is War, and war lets you do anything your little heart might desire, if you’re Good.

    How can you follow a man like John “I Occasionally Learn Something” Kerry? We need to follow God’s President as he resolutely and unwaveringly leads us, whether it be to to God’s Judgment or straight over the cliff.

  6. CBS accepted bad information from Burkett, despite the fact that he had passed bad information before, and was a fierce Democratic partisan. They reported the information uncritically, without adequately confirming its authenticity.

    The Moonie Times accepted bad information from Drudge, despite the fact that he had passed bad information before, and was a fierce Republican partisan. The reported the information uncritically, without adequately confirming its authenticity.

    So at what point are Mona and Dan going to declare the Times “finished,” and call for the firing of the editors and reporters that let this go to print?

    The answer is, never, because their heartfelt commitment to journalistic ethics is a mask that will be dropped as suddenly as it was put on, the moment it becomes convenient.

  7. Reason, it seems to me, does not have the same artificial time constraints that the major media has created for themselves.

    Please watch the tape next time. Cause we all want to think Reason is, well, more reasonable.

  8. The Washington Times carried a sharply worded letter from a U.S.
    ambassador, Stephan Minikes, criticizing most State Department bureaucrats
    as “liberal,” favoring “apology and appeasement” and saying he would like to
    fire some of his own staff.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A60835-2003Jul15&notFound=true

  9. What’s amusing to me is that Instapundit, which is frequently accused of shilling for the Republicans, made no mention of the fake flip-flop quote at all until a few days ago. The first mention of the quote was to raise the possibility that it was phony, and the second was an update confirming that it was. It’s worth contrasting with the people who bent over backwards to defend the forged CBS memos.

    It’s also worth noting that the Washington Times did not offer the “fake but accurate” defense. 🙂

  10. To the WT’s credit they published a substantial correction, inside a regular feature. Had this been The New York Times you’d be searching the obituary page with a jeweler’s loupe trying to find an out-of-context correction. OK, maybe Okrent would write about it, but they HATE to admit a mistake.

    The constant carping that the WT’s owners are adherents to a loopy religion gets tired. The Christian Science Monitor is owned by people with ridiculous religious beliefs. Why not make snide remarks about that? They still print excerpts from Mary Baker Eddy’s fantasies in their fishwrap.

    Kevin

  11. I don’t know that it’s strictly a blog/print media thing; rather I think as a rule that if someone is quoted as saying X in major print media, assuming it’s not super implausible on face, other press tend to assume it’s been vetted and checked adequately there, and will run with “The Blankettyburg Times reports…” readily enough. Though it probably is magnified for blogs simply because there’s no way that we could get any of the work on the actual magazine done if we were tracking down sources to call & confirm every time we posted a 1-paragraph blog entry.

  12. I’d just like to observe that it’s a positive sign when the campaign focus has jumped ahead 28 years from 1969 to 1997, and now concerns things that Kerry may or may not have said that have a bearing on the current military issues facing the US. Whatever he did or didn’t say, and whatever one’s position may be on Iraq, at least we’re talking about Iraq instead of Vietnam.

  13. I agree, Julian. It’s not that the Reason staff does a bad job with the blog. It’s just that H&R is a blog.

    Blogs are like pawns, to major media’s pieces.

  14. Mistakes are made every day. In fact, I’ve learned more from my mistakes than from my successes – some would say I’ve learned a lot in the last few years.

    Live hard and make mistakes. But when you do, don’t deny them. Kudos to H&R.

  15. You miss the most important point. The Times accepted the quote as true because it wanted it to be true, and its anti-Kerry bias undermined the paper’s judgment. Was this a conscious thing? Of course not; what paper wants to be exposed (again) as lazy and inaccurate? And this is precisely why Rather and company fell for an inherently shaky anti-Bush story with dubious support. We would all be better served if reporters admitted their biases to us and themselves, and recognized that it is their job as professionals to overcome bias, not deny that it exists.
    By the way, the faux Kerry quote was pretty obviously a phony: much too clear and direct. The real quote is properly muddled.

  16. The Times accepted the quote as true because it wanted it to be true, and its anti-Kerry bias undermined the paper’s judgment. Was this a conscious thing? Of course not; what paper wants to be exposed (again) as lazy and inaccurate? And this is precisely why Rather and company fell for an inherently shaky anti-Bush story with dubious support

    In the original article, the Times noted that the quote was relayed to them by a Republican congressman, and that they didn’t have a transcript of the show to verify the quote against.

    CBS did not reveal that they had received the fradulent documents from a well-known opponent of George Bush, nor did they reveal that the authenticity of the documents had not been confirmed. Instead, they lied, claiming that the documents had been verified and that they had full confidence in the chain of custody.

    So the parallel really doesn’t hold. The Times’ bias may have encouraged it to print hearsay, but it at least had the decency to note that it WAS hearsay. CBS attempted to pass off obvious forgeries, lied to cover up their wrongdoing, and have yet to fully come clean.

  17. The Times article was written by an almost OP-ED writer who writes short things about Washington. We consistently hear false things from the OP-ED pages of the NYT and WP but you NEVER get a correction.

  18. Hey Ken,

    Let me know when the Washington Times prints a lengthy story about how it blew its coverage of the march to war, was too credible towards administration and military sources, and flaggelated itself for getting taken in.

    Like the New York Times did a couple months ago.

    But don’t hold your breath – the Moonie Times still hasn’t backed off its 1992 “Clinton was a Soviet Mole” story.

  19. That, BTW, is why the Moonie Times gets more crap the the CSM. The Washington Times allows its mystical/political biases plop steaming turds on its pages on a daily basis, and the CSM does not.

  20. Why? WHY?

    Because actually doing some digging and research to check what an official source tells you against the evidence, instead of simply reporting what “he said” as straight news, is TAKING SIDES. Any recourse to the realm of objective truth is an affront to objectivity. The only way to be “objective” is to avoid, not only asking too many questions, but drawing any obvious conclusions from what is right under your nose. The first canon of the “professional” journalism they teach in j-school these days is objectivity=stenography.

  21. Let me know when the Washington Times prints a lengthy story about how it blew its coverage of the march to war, was too credible towards administration and military sources, and flaggelated itself for getting taken in

    Translation: “Let me know when the Washington Times starts uncritically reciting Democratic Party talking points, the way the New York Times does”.

    When the major Democratic Party leaders were behind the war, the NYT found justification for the war. When the major Democratic Party leaders turned against the war, the NYT “examined” its past reporting and found that — gosh! — it should have been against the war all along too. The New York Times has always been at war with Eastasia. 🙂

  22. But isn’t the first quote what Kerry said, paraphased?

    What is the substantial difference, stance-wise?

  23. But isn’t the first quote what Kerry said, paraphased? What is the substantial difference, stance-wise?

    In the actual quote he doesn’t actually take a position on whether or not Russia and France could be relied upon, or on whether or not unilateral action would be called for if other nations failed to help us.

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