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July 26, 2010

Bob Shieffer Calls Upon "New Media" To Do Fact-Checking Before Making Allegation, While Doing No Fact-Checking Before Making Allegation

Great post at Just One Minute: Do as I say, not as I do.

Bob Schieffer of CBS News 'Face The Nation' is irrationally exuberant over the Shirley Sherrod debacle; he calls on the New Media to adopt the rigorous fact checking of our diligent Old Media but delivers this baffler:
Here's one way: Old Media makes its share of mistakes, but not if we can help it. We still call people involved in a story to get their side; editors fact check; and we never publish or broadcast anything unless we think it's true.

Last week, we saw what can happen when it's done the other way.

A partisan blogger with an agenda - not a journalist - put the heavily edited, totally out of context, now infamous sound bite of Shirley Sherrod on the Internet. Some of the cable folk picked up the story, and demanded the woman's ouster.

Which cable folk demanded the woman's ouster? He means Fox, of course.

But maybe he should check his facts. Since he doesn't trust the "New Media," he should pick up the phone and call Old Media guy Howie Kurtz:

But for all the chatter -- some of it from Sherrod herself -- that she was done in by Fox News, the network didn't touch the story until her forced resignation was made public Monday evening, with the exception of brief comments by O'Reilly. [Note: While those comments were taped at around 5:50, they didnt't air until 8:50, after the White House had fired her, and well after the NAACP had condemned her. -- ace] After a news meeting Monday afternoon, an e-mail directive was sent to the news staff in which Fox Senior Vice President Michael Clemente said: "Let's take our time and get the facts straight on this story. Can we get confirmation and comments from Sherrod before going on-air. Let's make sure we do this right."

Sherrod may be the only official ever dismissed because of the fear that Fox host Glenn Beck might go after her. As Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tried to pressure her into resigning, Sherrod says Deputy Undersecretary Cheryl Cook called her Monday to say "do it, because you're going to be on 'Glenn Beck' tonight." And for all the focus on Fox, much of the mainstream media ran with a fragmentary story that painted an obscure 62-year-old Georgian as an unrepentant racist.

...

Ironically, Beck defended Sherrod on Tuesday, saying that "context matters" and he would have objected if someone had shown a video of him at an AA meeting saying he used to pass out from drinking but omitting the part where he says he found Jesus and gave up alcohol.

Note well: I saw this story on TV first on CNN -- CNN was running it that day, and the reporters interviewing Sherrod were pretty skeptical of their claims. But they certainly did not demand the woman's ouster, either.

CNN ran the story, and the video, before FoxNews. (Correction: No they didn't; see correction below, and more ruminations about this two posts up.)

Howard Kurtz, CNN employee, doesn't mention that.

Bob Shieffer of CBS News fails to realize that CBSTV ran the story on their website before FoxNews.

Bob Shieffer, however, wants you to know "We still call people involved in a story to get their side; editors fact check; and we never publish or broadcast anything unless we think it's true. "

It's that last part that's the laugher -- yes, I'm sure that's true, that you never publish anything "unless you think it's true."

The trouble is, Bobby, you seem to come to the table "thinking" a lot of things are true before bothering to make those phone-calls or do that fact-checking.


Repeat after me: Bob Shieffer, master phone-call-maker, fact-checker extraordinaire, will never retract this baseless smear nor even acknowledge that there is so much as a debate over what he "thinks is true."


Correction! I stated that CNN aired this clip before FoxNews did.

Now I realize I've done what all these phone-call makin', fact-checking paragons of journalism did-- I conflated the coverage Tuesday morning/afternoon with the coverage on Monday.

The CNN piece I saw was from Tuesday, after she'd been fired already.

It is not true, I don't think, that CNN covered this first. Certainly the one piece of evidence I was relying on was false evidence -- my memory tricked me.

Now, I just corrected the record -- something you will not see from the Washington Post's Richard Cohen, the New York Times' Charles Kaiser, CBS News' Bob Shieffer, or McClatchy newspapers.


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posted by Ace at 12:41 PM

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