Newspaper Web sites and White House disinformation
COMMENTARY | February 22, 2008
The Wall Street Journal print edition didn’t mention a recent report that cited more than 935 false statements by top Administration officials. The Journal’s Web site, however, not only mentioned the report—it attacked it. (Second of two parts.)
By Morton Mintz
More than 3,000 Web sites and blogs, including those sponsored by AlterNet, CNN, FoxNews. Salon, Wonkette, and Yahoo, carried pieces on the recent report by two related nonprofit journalism groups on the more than 900 false statements made by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top administration officials about the claimed threat from Saddam Hussein that led to the disastrous war in Iraq.
My focus here is on Web sites sponsored by the two leading national newspapers that didn't print a story or even an item on Iraq / The War Card / Orchestrated Deception on the Path to War, the report prepared by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) and the Fund for Independence in Journalism.
At the Washington Post site, Dan Froomkin (who is also deputy editor of this Web site, for which I am a Senior Advisor), began his White House Watch column: "A nonprofit group pursuing old-fashioned accountability journalism is out with a new report and database documenting 935 false statements by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top administration officials hyping the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the two years after Sept. 11, 2001."
At the Wall Street Journal site, James Taranto, editor of the Journal's online editorial page, OpinionJournal.com, began by quoting four summary sentences from the Associated Press story. Then, in a sharp right-turn, he took shots at the messenger; threw mud at the CPI, the Fund, and George Soros, and concluded by expressing doubt that the report was – are you ready? – even newsworthy:
Nowhere in the entire dispatch does the AP tell us anything more about the two groups than that they are 'nonprofit journalism' organizations. In fact, the Center for Public Integrity is a liberal-left group that has taken money from George Soros, who has compared contemporary America to Nazi Germany. The Fund for Independence in Journalism seems to be but a spinoff; its Web site says its "primary purpose is providing legal defense and endowment support" for the center.
Certainly if the AP is going to report on this "study," it ought to disclose the political leanings of the groups that sponsored it. Though come to think of it, given those political leanings, it's hard to see why this is even newsworthy.
Had Soros likened "contemporary America to Nazi Germany," as Taranto would have his readers infer? No, he had not. You can read what Soros actually said, in context, and how Taranto twisted it, here, at Huffingtonpost.
Steve Carpinelli, the CPI's Media Relations Manager, initiated an email exchange with Taranto two weeks after the report was released. Minus greetings and sign-offs, it appears in full below, for this important reason: It enables the reader to make his/her own judgment about whether the report is "even newsworthy" and whether to trust the investigative journalism of the Center or the slash-and-burn punditry of Taranto.
Carpinelli to Taranto, Feb. 8:
First and foremost, the Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to producing original, responsible investigative journalism on significant issues of public concern. The Center is non-partisan and non-advocacy and committed to transparent and comprehensive reporting both in the United States and around the world.
The Center does not and has never endorsed any legislation, political candidate, party or organization. The Center has strict guidelines on revenue sources, for example, we do not accept contributions from governments, corporations, labor unions, anonymous donors and no advertising. The bulk of our financial support comes from independent foundations and individual contributors. The Center has not received funds from Soros' Open Society Institute since 2004, and there [were] absolutely no Soros foundation funds used in the creation of our Iraq War Card project. The Center accepts support from many different sources, but regardless of the source, all of the Center's projects are editorially independent and strictly managed by in-house journalists and staff.
The WSJ [Wall Street Journal] has recently published two front-page articles that featured the Center's work. "Big Pharma Faces Grim Prognosis" by Barbara Martinez and Jacob Goldstein and "Interest Groups Gain in Election Cash Quest" by Brody Mullins. In addition, WSJ Managing Editor Paul Steiger...has visited the Center to consult with our executive director, Bill Buzenberg, and our staff of in-house journalists and researchers, to learn more about nonprofit investigative journalism as he moves forward with ProPublica. We have a good working relationship with the WSJ and I have personally talked to several reporters, assisting them with their stories.
Journalists from across the country and around the world use our databases and investigative stories to assist their own reporting and do so knowing that we are not a "liberal-left group." Also, we fully disclose on our website our foundation and significant individual donors and make it clear that we have no "political leanings."
Regarding the "newsworthy" content of our Iraq War Card project, it has so far been reported on by more than 80 newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, Financial Times and Atlanta Journal Constitution, five major newswire services, international coverage featured in 10 countries, more than two dozen national radio and television interviews, 14 newspaper editorials and more than 3,000 blogs and counting. That's just in the last two weeks.
Taranto to Carpinelli, later the same day:
I am more than happy to correct or extend the record if I have erred, but I must tell you that nothing you have written here convinces me that I am mistaken to hold the opinion that the Center for Public Integrity is a liberal-left group. Formal nonpartisanship is no guarantee of fairness or detachment, and merely stating that you have no political leanings does not make it so.
Can you give me some examples of work your group has done that runs against type – i.e., that someone who does have a liberal-left agenda might find objectionable?
Carpinelli to Taranto, Feb. 11
Unlike newspapers, including the WSJ, NYT, etc., the Center does not and has never endorsed or supported any political candidate, party or organization - proof of nonpartisanship. Our funders, primarily from foundations and individuals, have absolutely no input in the direction, content or creation of any Center project, so it is incorrect to say that we received money from Soros, when he did not personally give money to the Center and the foundation that did, the Open Society Institute, did so back in 2004, again, with no editorial direction on their behalf at all.
When a foundation or individual contributes to the Center it is because they share an interest in our mission and investigative journalism.
The Center was the first journalism organization to uncover the Clinton White House "selling" of the Lincoln bedroom to big-time contributors in a series of Center stories titled "Fat Cat Hotel," which also included stories on Vice President Gore's office refusal to divulge public information on guests to the official residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. The Center investigated many topics involving the Clinton/Gore administration, all searchable on our website. The analysis of public information has been a hallmark of the Center's fact-based investigative journalism since its founding.
The Center's mission is to produce original investigative journalism about significant public issues to make institutional power more transparent and accountable. That's not a liberal-left agenda, that's a legacy of good investigative reporting that is not swayed by advertisers, corporations, governments, labor unions, contributors or for profit motives that may interfere with independent reporting. The Center is unique in that aspect, sadly as many newspapers across the country have dramatically cut their investigative news divisions.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), who has a lifetime rating of 91.9 from the American Conservative Union, and known for leading the GOP effort to have french fries renamed "freedom fries" in House cafeteria menus as a protest against French opposition to the invasion of Iraq, is a Center supporter. He has personally called me to express his interest in the Center's mission.
You questioned the newsworthiness of our latest project, which I think should be corrected, because clearly it was newsworthy. Your observation that it was not newsworthy was not based on fact or background research. As I pointed out before, so far our Iraq War Card project was reported on by more than 82 newspapers, including the New York Times [.com], Washington Post [.com], Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, Financial Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5 major newswire services, international coverage featured in ten countries, more than two dozen national radio and television interviews, 14 newspaper editorials and more than 3,000 blogs and counting.
As of the posting of this article, Taranto had yet to respond to Carpinellii's Feb. 11 message.
Unlike the CPI and the Fund, many Washington think-tanks-nonprofits-take millions of dollars annually from the oil, tobacco, pharmaceutical and other industries; from right-wing foundations, and from extremely wealthy, right-leaning individuals, Richard Mellon Scaife being an example. These think-tanks also issue streams of purportedly scholarly reports and statements that espouse the views of their funders, and that the mainstream press picks up, usually without reference to the think-tanks' financing or political leanings (see, e.g., this article of mine in Nieman Reports and this, from Sourcewatch).
The key sentence in Taranto's posting at OpinionJournal.com--"In fact, the Center for Public Integrity is a liberal-left group that has taken money from George Soros, who has compared contemporary America to Nazi Germany."--bears repeating. Setting aside the viciously false innuendo about Soros, Taranto was saying, or certainly leading his readers to infer, that the 935 false statements made by President Bush and his top officials about the war in Iraq don't matter because the organization that documented them is, in the pundit's phrase, "left-liberal." This suggested a few questions, which I emailed to Taranto on February 19th:
- Would you please explain why the political leaning you impute to the organization that issued Iraq / the War Card renders inconsequential the documentation of 935 administration war-related falsehoods, none of which you challenged?
- If the identical report had been released by a conservative-right group, would you have rated the documentation of those 935 falsehoods unimportant?
- If the CPI were to issue a report citing 935 scientific studies establishing that night follows day, would you dismiss it because the CPI is "a liberal-left group"?
- Having expressed doubt that the CPI report is "even newsworthy" because the Center is liberal-left, would you please specify any reports you may have dismissed in your column as of doubtful newsworthiness because issued by conservative-right corporate-financed think tanks?
- Would you please also specify any shots you may have fired in your column at the AP or any other other news organization-including the sponsor of your Web site, the Wall Street Journal-because it did not "tell us anything more" about the sources of funding and political leanings of these same think-tanks?
An hour and a quarter later, I got this response: “Dear Mr. Mintz—My writings on this subject speak for themselves. Judging by your questions, you obviously have your own opinions on the matter. Feel free to express them. Cheers, James"
01/22/2009, 02:02 PM
Les series GTI (Graphic Target Imaging) des detecteurs de metaux Garrett font partie des meilleurs detecteurs du marche. A la difference des autres detecteurs, le GTI 2500 (et le GTI 1500) vous offre ce que Garrett appelle les options de Visualisation reelle, qui vous donnent une meilleure representation de la cible ainsi que sa taille reelle et sa profondeur. Ces parametres suplementaires sont diriges par la tres performante technologie DSP (Digital Signal Processing), developpee par Garrett. Pour les debutants, il est difficile de bien choisir son detecteur de metaux. Pour tout renseignement, vous pouvez donc nous joindre au 0041 55 420 10 77
[url=http://www.garrett.ch/fra/products_det.php3?id=37&product_id=110] detecteur metaux, detecteur de metaux, detecteurs metaux, detecteur métaux, detecteur meteaux, de detecteur de metaux, un detecteur de metaux, detecteur a metaux, detecteur de metaux scope, detecteur de metaux minelab, detecteur de metaux xp, détecteur metaux ,detecteur meteaux, detecteurs metaux, detecteur métaux, détecteur metaux, un detecteur metaux, un detecteur de metaux en, un detecteur de metaux a, un detecteur a metaux, son detecteur de metaux, detecteur metaux sur,detecteur metaux sous,detecteur metaux pour, detecteur metaux pas, detecteur metaux en,detecteur metaux cs, detecteur metaux c,detecteur de metaux sims, detecteur de metaux ou, detecteur de metaux le plus, detecteur de metaux grande, detecteur de metaux en,detecteur de metaux d, detecteur de metaux c, de detecteur de metaux en, de detecteur de metaux a,d un detecteur de metaux,avec detecteur metaux, avec detecteur de metaux, au detecteur de metaux, de detecteur de metaux, un detecteur de metaux, detecteur de metaux a, detecteur de metaux cs, essai detecteur metaux, prospection au detecteur de metaux, ou acheter detecteur de metaux, boutique detecteur metaux, detecteur metaux pro, detecteur metaux marseille, blog detecteur de metaux, prix detecteur metaux, fonctionnement detecteur de metaux, detecteur metaux profondeur, detecteur metaux seben, prix d un detecteur de metaux, detecteur de metaux snooper, detecteur de metaux cs120, detecteur de metaux france, detecteur de metaux cscope, detecteur metaux c scope, detecteur de metaux garette, association detecteur de metaux, detecteur de metaux prizm, portique detecteur metaux, detecteur de metaux deepers, detecteur de metaux sims 2, club detecteur de metaux, detecteur metaux belgique, detecteur metaux bosch, mode d emploi detecteur de metaux, detecteur metaux white's, prospection detecteur metaux, detecteur metaux lyon, detecteur metaux garett, achat de detecteur de metaux, detecteur metaux precieux, detecteur metaux sous marin, detecteur de metaux a pulse induction, detecteur de metaux tresor, fabriquer detecteur metaux, detecteur à metaux, detecteur metaux toulouse, detecteur de metaux m02, detecteur metaux or, detecteur metaux minelab, meilleur detecteur metaux, schema detecteur metaux, comparatif detecteur metaux, detecteur metaux plage, detecteur metaux paris, detecteur de metaux bounty hunter, detecteur de metaux velleman, detecteur metaux fisher, acheter detecteur metaux, ou acheter un detecteur de metaux, test detecteur metaux, detecteur de metaux cs200, recherche detecteur de metaux, les detecteur de metaux, detecteur de metaux portatif, detecteur de metaux scope, video detecteur de metaux, achat detecteur metaux, magasin detecteur metaux, detecteur de metaux cs150, detecteur de metaux garett, forum detecteur metaux, detecteur metaux tesoro, prospection detecteur de metaux, test detecteur de metaux, detecteur de metaux or, detecteur de metaux pro, www detecteur de metaux, prix detecteur de metaux, detecteur de metaux adonis, portique detecteur de metaux, detecteur metaux garrett, detecteur metaux xp, vente detecteur metaux, detecteur de metaux white's, detecteur de metaux c scope, detecteur metaux occasion, acheter un detecteur de metaux, detecteur de metaux minelab, acheter detecteur de metaux, vente de detecteur de metaux, achat detecteur de metaux, forum detecteur de metaux, detecteur de metaux fisher, location detecteur metaux, vente detecteur de metaux, detecteur de metaux xp, detecteur a metaux, detecteur des metaux, detecteur metaux, detecteur de metaux [/url]
The NiemanWatchdog.org website is no longer being updated. Watchdog stories have a new home in Nieman Reports.