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October 05, 2004

No Laughing Matter: Josh Marshall Wants Carl Cameron Reassigned off Covering Kerry For Writing Parody "Kerry Quotes" in Script

The hysterical left-wing blogosphere thinks they've gotten hold of their own little Rathergate. It seems that Fox reporter Carl Cameron, covering the Kerry campaign, inserted joke-quotes -- obviously parodies -- into a preliminary news-script and those quotes were taken as real by someone on the FoxNews website.

These "Kerry quotes" got posted as real:

"Women should like me! I do manicures."

"Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!"

"I'm metrosexual — [Bush's] a cowboy."

Now, these are obviously fake, as Joshua "I'm working on the story of my life" Marshall immediately realized. And FoxNews immediately realized they were fake, too-- the story was pulled almost immediately and FoxNews has issued a retraction and an apology:

Earlier Friday, FOXNews.com posted an item purporting to contain quotations from Kerry. The item was based on a reporter’s partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast. We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice.

They also "reprimanded" Carl Cameron. A fuller FoxNews explanation can be found here.

The new policy states that no such humorous bits are to be included in any preliminary news script.

Now, how did these obviously-ludicrous "quotes" make it on to the website? FoxNews isn't saying, but there seem to be three possibilities:

1) The person who wrote the story is in fact a functional retard.

2) The person who wrote the story is rabidly-anti-Kerry, so much so as to cloud his sense.

3) The person who wrote the story is, like many of the people who work at FoxNews, a liberal who hates FoxNews and wishes he or she had gotten a better job offer at a more liberal news organization, and posted the story deliberately to embarass FoxNews.

But who knows.


Josh Marshall whines:

[A FoxNews spokesman says] “Carl [Cameron] made a stupid mistake which he regrets. And he has been reprimanded for his lapse in judgment. It was a poor attempt at humor.”

So the Fox reporter covering the Kerry campaign puts together this Kerry-bashing parody right out of the RNC playbook with phony quotes intended to peg him as girlish fool and somehow it found its way on the Fox website as a news item.

Imagine that.

More to follow ...

More to follow? Isn't there always, Joshy?

Joshy wants to get to the bottom of this. He asks:

1. [Re: Cameron's reprimand] How? Are there any consequences? What happened to him? How was he reprimanded? Fox spokesman Paul Schur, who first spoke to TPM yesterday afternoon, told The Daily News "We're simply moving on from this, we have no further comment." And that doesn't inspire a lot of confidence that the 'reprimand' is anything more than a 'Carl, Don't post any more fabricated quotes on the website.' Meanwhile, Schur declined to tell the LA Times what if any discipline Cameron faced.

3. Just for the sake of discussion, can there be any question that Carl Cameron has contempt and disdain for John Kerry -- contempt and disdain that he has great difficulty keeping a lid on?

4. Shouldn't Cameron be taken off the Kerry campaign beat? Assume for the moment that Cameron's fabricated story wasn't supposed to run on the site. If Cameron sits around writing up phony news stories only for Fox News colleagues which portray Kerry as a swishy fool, can he really credibly cover the campaign as a straight news reporter? The answer is obvious, I think. Of course, he can't.

The trouble for Joshy is that this isn't the first time a partisan has been caught inserting snide jokes into a partial script-- or pool report. One of Joshy's favorite reporters, I'm sure-- Dan Milbank of the Washington Post -- had lots of snide anti-Bush "jokes" in a pool report he prepared for the media who could not attend a Bush function.

Milbank repeatedly calls Bush "our protagonist" and "our hero" -- which might be seen as cute and playful coming from a Republican or moderate, but which are definitely insulting coming from a rabidly-partisan Bush-hater like Milbank --
and works in a few more "jokes" which might have, in the hands of a senseless website hack, made it into the official WaPo record:

Our protagonist departed the White House near unto 9:20 this morning, bound for the Capitol in a determined effort to find Gary Condit. Actually, he was to meet with the House Republican caucus.

Your pool watched as POTUS descended into the bowels of the Capitol's west side accompanied by Speaker Hastert at 9:30. "We're going to talk about a lot of things," the president informed the pool. "We're going to get a lot of things done for America."

The president and the caucus got so many things done for America so quickly that the hour-long meeting lasted only 45 minutes: a 25 minute speech by the president and 20 minutes of schmoozing. ...

The big news of the day was made when our protagonist spoke about education. He declared that education is "a passion for me." In addition to this startling revelation, he made a case for free trade and his faith-based initiative.

Now, you may say that Milbank's snideness didn't make it into print. But I'm not sure that's relevant, as Carl Cameron didn't print his jokes as real; that was some dope working for the website. And furthermore, it seems that Milbank's deceptive little bon mots do occasionally make it into the Washington Post.

In a "news analysis column," "our hero" Milbank shows himself to be very fair-and-balanced and quite the cut-up by inserting this at the end of his news story:

The Quotable Bush

"I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein." -- President Bush, meeting Iraqi amputees at the White House on May 25.

As Nick Kronos pointed out:

One little detail left out from Milbank's attempt to make the President look like an insensitive idiot:

The President was shaking the man's new hand because all the "amputees" had just received new limbs courtesy of American charity.

And you want to hear something really funny? Here's how the column ending with that straw-man snideness began:

For President Bush, this is the season of the straw man.

It is an ancient debating technique: Caricature your opponent's argument, then knock down the straw man you created.

I guess Milbank studied the technique well enough to develop some level of expertise.

I hope Joshy points me to the posts in which he chastised Milbank for his snide anti-Bush "joking" and suggested that Milbank be reassigned because of his partisan animus.

Because I just know that Josh "Story of My Life" Marshall wouldn't resort to blatant partisan hypocrisy on such an issue. He's a "real reporter," and he'll tell you so if you just lend him your ear.


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posted by Ace at 04:15 AM

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