Saturday, February 02, 2008

It's Like They Live In A Different World

While no one commented on it, I did a write-up on the story about Jake Tapper doing an entire blog post in which he misrepresented an out-of-context quote from former President Bill Clinton. Tapper framed the quote, and by implication the entire speech, as essentially saying that Democrats want to shrink the economy to achieve environmental stability. When some folks tried to point out that, in essence, his head was so far up his ass he could chew his food after he swallowed it, Tapper printed a "defense" that made him look even more clueless.

Well, now it seems that the attempt to defend "a national correspondent" from charges that he's dumber than ox shit has become a ridiculous parody of mainstream media simply lying its collective ass off.
New York Times writer Andrew Revkin has written a long dissection of yesterday's episode involving Jake Tapper and his piece's bogus claim that Bill Clinton said he wants to "slow down our economy" to combat global warming. Revkin's conclusion: It's the blogosphere's fault.

If you're not up to speed on this, you can read about the whole episode here. This is what Revkin has to say about it:
Further down in the post, Mr. Tapper included the full text and a link to the entire speech. The context makes it clear that Mr. Clinton was not recommending a slowdown to limit warming, and instead was saying that an economic slowdown and emissions cuts in the United States and other industrialized countries would have no effect because emerging economic powerhouses like China would not follow suit. But the blogosphere, for the most part, doesn’t seem to have time for full transcripts — only the portion that suits some preexisting stance.


Just to restate the obvious, this episode was the creation of three parties: Tapper, ABC News, and Drudge. Revkin uncritically points to Tapper's explanation that the piece put video and the context of the quote further down in the piece. But so what? The problem here, again, was the obviously misleading use of the quote out of context and high up in the piece. This simple act, when combined with ABC News' misleading headline and the willingness of Drudge to grab on to the falsehood and push it out there, created a story that wasn't true.

I am agog at the ability of the media to take an error of their own creation - and an error that is so easy to correct - and rather than admit error, to compound it through distortion and outright falsehoods. I'm really not sure how to push back against this kind of thing other than continuing to expose it for what it is, but I really, really get frustrated with the child-like inability to say, "I'm sorry, I goofed" on the part of alleged professional adults.

Virtual Tin Cup

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