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How Come O'Donnell's Flub Gets So Much Furious Attention In The Media and Phil Hare's Doesn't? | Main | Post Retracted For Now
October 20, 2010

And On O'Donnell's Flub: After 24 Hours, It Appears It Was No Flub At All. Washington Post Reporter Ben Evans Simply Lied.

I keep getting into this fight with readers.

Readers tell me, "The media lies; don't trust them." My response is usually "Well, they spin, they suppress, they distort, but they usually don't lie per se. A reporter who directly lies would be disciplined. Their own reputations mean too much to them to just flat-out lie."

I, the hyperpartisan crazy conservative blogger, keep taking the media's side on this point, of outright lying.

I keep being proved wrong by the Suckers of Cock I am defending.

In the Coons-O'Donnell debate, of course, there was some sparring over the exact wording of the First Amendment. The crowd of law students at Widener Law School giggled and hooted at Christine O'Donnell's answer, her questioning of whether "separation of church and state" appears in the Constitution.

Oh by the way: Don't laugh too hard, Widener Law School students. For one thing, check your enrollment: You're at Widener Fucking Law School. You aren't really law students and you won't really be lawyers.

Sorry. But if we're going to play the credentials game, I have to inform you, you're not credentialed, at least in the eyes of anyone who actually is credentialed from a real law school.

But anyway, back to the debate. I criticized O'Donnell for giving a vague statement -- a question, really -- which left her open to the claim that she didn't know what the First Amendment said.

Here's how the Washington Post "reported" the exchange. Keep your eye on the bolded text.

Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell of Delaware on Tuesday questioned whether the U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state, appearing to disagree or not know that the First Amendment bars the government from establishing religion.

The exchange came in a debate before an audience of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, as O'Donnell criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons' position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.

Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that "religious doctrine doesn't belong in our public schools."

"Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked him.

When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O'Donnell asked: "You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?"

Her comments, in a debate aired on radio station WDEL, generated a buzz in the audience.

"You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp," Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O'Donnell's grasp of the Constitution.

As reported, O'Donnell's question makes it seem like she's questioning Coons' assertion that the Establishment Clause appears in the First Amendment, or at least leaves her open to that claim. (I always thought that would be a false claim; my criticism was that she hadn't been clear enough about what she was questioning, letting the Suckers of Cock in the media misrepresent her.)

So, she was quoted as asking:

"You're saying that's in the First Amendment?" Coons' more-or-less accurate recitation of the Establishment Clause.

It's the "That's" I had trouble with, because it's a vague word which could be referring to two different things. And my problem with O'Donnell was with not anticipating which way the media would interpret it. That is, one needs to speak defensively as a conservative, anticipating all the ways the media will twist your words, and making sure one speaks so clearly as to leave them all but untwistable.

But did she say that?

No, she did not.

What she actually asked was:

"The First Amendment does [establish what you claim]? ... So you're telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase 'separation of church and state,' is in the First Amendment?"

In other words, she makes it perfectly clear what she's questioning. Not that the Establishment Clause says what it says, but whether the phrase "separation of church and state" appears in the clause.

And of course, on that point, she's 100% right.

Don't believe me? Well believe the Washington Post, which now reports the exchange as concluding thus:

She interrupted to say, "The First Amendment does? ... So you're telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase 'separation of church and state,' is in the First Amendment?"

Guess which article that appears in?

It appears in the original article, the one making the erroneous, damning misreportage of her question, or at least it does now. The article has been scrubbed and edited to now accurately report what she said and what she questioned.

The same URL I linked to yesterday now links to an edited, accurate version of the article.

There is no notification the article has been corrected, or that it got anything wrong in the first place, despite the fact that the reporter Ben Evans did in fact blow the quote 100% to suggest an entirely different meaning than the accurate meaning.

I suppose it's possible that Ben Evans simply heard what he wanted to hear. A liberal, no doubt, he wanted evidence that Christine O'Donnell didn't even know the First Amendment, and so he heard that. In that case, it wouldn't be a lie per se, but a case of unconscious bias.

But in that case -- if it was accidental -- Ms. O'Donnell is now owed an apology and a correction, isn't she? Isn't she owed an owning-up to the fact that this entire controversy arose not from what she actually said, but from what a mistaken, sloppy reporter misreported her to say?

Or is the Washington Post going to claim there is no significant difference between the quotes?

Does Ben Evans claim that?

If there's no difference -- why was the article rewritten to put the accurate quotes in place?

Oh: As always, I find the term "cocksuckers" too insensitive a term.

That is why I prefer the more humane "Suckers of Cock," which makes it clear that I am not being dismissive or insulting, but am viewing these people as actual human beings, actual human beings who are Suckers of Cock.

My Own Correction: I have a bad connection right now and can't view videos, so I'm taking the WaPo's new reportage as authoritative.

However, my actual memory of the video - -I saw it last night on Maddow -- was that she says "That phrase is in the Constitution?" Again, not "that's in the Constitution?" -- making it clear she is arguing about the specific phrase itself.

That is my actual memory, but I can't check tape now. But, assuming that memory is accurate-- that she says "that phrase" -- that is a key part of the quote that makes it absolutely 100% clear is is not disputing the recitation of the Establishment Clause, but continuing to press on whether or not the exact phrase "separation of church and state" appears in the Constitution.

It doesn't. And the snide reportage, distorting her words to make her sound foolish, is in error, and most likely not even in error, but a deliberate distortion.

She is owed a formal correction and apology.

Corrected: I stand by what I wrote. There are two exchanges. A fair quoting of both exchanges makes it clear she is questioning, and continues to question, one thing and one thing only: Whether or not this particular phrase is in the First Amendment.

To truncate the quote, as Ben Evans did, or as local radio WDEL did, or as all the liberals on MSNBC did, is to deliberately make it appear that she is arguing about something she's not arguing about.

That is the what they intended, of course. And they got that. And now, 24 hours later, when that initial false impression has been put into the minds of voters, they stealth-correct and run the whole quote.

digg this
posted by Ace at 12:20 PM

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