Saturday, October 02, 2004


Dan Rather vs. Carl Cameron (updated) (corrected)

Dan Rather has been pilloried for the acceptance and broadcast of forged documents—nevermind that the import of the documents was true. Now comes Carl Cameron of Fox News, inventing Kerry quotes so blatantly false that you would have to be a Right-winger to believe them.

That's right. Josh Marshall, a journalist-blogger, discovered yesterday a news story on Fox News' website that fabricated Kerry quotes. The item was posted without attribution. Later, Fox spokesman Paul Schur attributed it to Carl Cameron, Fox's "chief political correspondent."

After discovery, Fox took down the article and issued an "apology." Josh Marshall provides a link to it, but Fox has also now hidden away its apology. In any case, according to Marshall, it said,

Earlier Friday, 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.

The quotes were—

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

"It's about the Supreme Court. Women should like me! I do manicures."

"I'm metrosexual — he's a cowboy"

Cameron's news item helpfully explains,

A "metrosexual" is defined as an urbane male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle.

Now I'm hard-pressed to understand how such quotes could have been produced "because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice," especially as they were not merely written in Cameron's notes but were posted on the website.

But my real interest is in what the mainstream media are going to do with this. So far the NY Times is running an AP story, ABC News runs the same AP story, likewise the Boston Globe. The Washington Post has nothing. The only independent stories that I've found have been from Newsday and the National Business Review. None of the articles go beyond the basic facts of the story and Fox's "apology."

If you google on "dan rather documents bush," you'll know the meaning of "plethora." The Globe and Mail and ESPN have posted articles on the Rather case in the last 24 hours. But by trying various search phrases I've been able to turn up only two articles on the Cameron affair.

Now you and I know what perfect little piglets are running the Fox newsroom, but many in the public don't. This is a wonderful opportunity to educate them. Perhaps it's time to dash off a note to a few ombudsmen for the major news outlets—just to assure "balance."

The Chicago Tribune runs a brief item "OOPS! FOX NEWS LETS SATIRE SLIP" based on the AP article. As you can tell by the headline, they've decided to treat it as a joke.
Cameron wrote a satirical news script as a joke, explained Fox spokesman Paul Schur, and it accidentally found its way to the Web.

Don't you love that word "accidentally"? Reminds me of an old Fugs album—"It Crawled into My Hand, Honest."

"It was a stupid, stupid mistake," Schur said. "And Cameron's been reprimanded."

Reprimanded? We're talking about a political reporter who invented quotes. The item appeared in a column of news items, none of which was satire. Isn't it time to bring up the name "Jayson Blair"?

Question: Has intended satire ever been published in that Fox news column? If so, was it labeled as such or not?

Correction: Fox News has not removed the apology. I followed the link from another site, and voilá! The apology is here.

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