Burnett interviews Craig Carton: Last Thursday evening, Erin Burnett conducted a highly instructive interview.
She spoke with a man named Craig Carton. He was introduced as “a friend of Ray Rice.”
Eventually, Carton seemed to say that Rice was honest and forthright with Roger Goodell in the now-famous June 16 meeting. You can see the relevant transcript below.
Just for fun, we’re including one comical part of the error-strewn CNN transcript—the description of Carton as a “childhood friend of Ray Rice.” (Carton is eighteen years older than Rice.)
We’ve also corrected massive errors in CNN’s official transcript of what was said in the interview. For details, see our next post.
(We made the corrections by watching the interview through our cable system’s On Demand feature.)
CNN’s official transcript is an astonishing error-strewn mess. As usual, Burnett’s interview techniques were extremely weak.
But Burnett’s interview with Carton was highly instructive in one key respect. In the wake of that ESPN report, it gives us a clearer idea of what a “source” may look like:
BURNETT (9/11/14): And we want bring in Craig Carton. He is a friend of Ray Rice. Just spoke to Rice on Tuesday, one day after the surveillance tape from the elevator was made public. You spoke to him today, is that right?For background on the ESPN report, see Saturday’s post.
CRAIG CARTON, CHILDHOOD FRIEND OF RAY RICE: Yes, we texted back and forth today.
BURNETT: So what did he say?
CARTON: Well listen, he committed a horrendous crime against his wife, the mother of his child. He knows it. He takes ownership of it. He's not proud of that moment. He has to do a lot of work to repair his image. He has let a lot of people down, namely his wife and daughter and himself.
And he is committed to do that. And there is the Ray Rice who needs to go to counseling and figure it out. And then separately, over here, is Ray Rice the football player.
BURNETT: So what is his reaction to the suspension? This key [ESPN] report— you are saying you knew that he told Roger Goodell months ago what happened. That he told him that he hit his wife months ago.
CARTON: Listen, he told everyone that asked, that was in a position of authority, from the NFL to his bosses with the Ravens, what he did. He took ownership of the despicable act and tried to make it right.
Ray Rice did something horrendously wrong. But the NFL's reaction to it and how they have vacillated back and forth of what the punishment should be and what they did and don't know is wrong.
BURNETT: What do you think will happen to Roger Goodell?
CARTON: I think if they can prove that Roger Goodell also saw that video, the second video—
BURNETT: But you think he needs to see the video? That Ray Rice directly telling him wasn’t enough?
CARTON: No, I don’t. They’re two separate issues. What should happen to Roger? Roger will be the commissioner unless they can prove that he saw that video and told that lie.
No one needs to see it and here is why. It doesn't change the fundamental facts of the case. You had the police report—he hit her, rendered her unconscious. He admitted it to everybody in the room.
BURNETT: He told Roger Goodell.
Plainly, Carton said that Rice was forthright with Roger Goodell in the June 16 meeting. “He hit her, rendered her unconscious. He admitted it to everybody in the room.”
That may be accurate, of course. We aren’t in a position to know.
(Warning! In this context, the word “hit” is a bit problematic. It could mean “punched” and it could mean “slapped.” All too plainly, Rice punched Janay Palmer.)
We aren’t in a position to know what Rice told Roger Goodell in that meeting. Having said that, let us also say this:
Craig Carton isn’t in a position to know what Rice said either!
Carton didn’t attend the June 16 meeting. When he spoke with Burnett, he seemed to be repeating what he’d been told by Rice.
Last Thursday, we watched this interview as it aired. We were struck by Burnett’s failure to make a basic fact explicit—Carton has no first-hand knowledge of what Rice told Goodell.
Earlier in the show, Burnett had been pimping the claims in that “key [ESPN] report,” claims which make Goodell a liar. She failed to note an important fact—the ESPN report never claims that its “sources” have first-hand knowledge of what Rice said in that meeting.
Carton lacks first-hand knowledge too! In that sense, he shows us what a journalistic “source” may sometimes look like.
Who is Craig Carton? Despite the clownish CNN transcript, he isn’t a “childhood friend” of Rice.
At age 45, Carton is eighteen years older than Rice, a fact which seemed rather obvious as we watched the interview in real time. He hails from the world of “sports talk” radio, a fact which Burnett should have included in her introduction.
According to the leading authority, Carton is “an American radio personality who currently co-hosts the Boomer and Carton in the Morning radio program” on WFAN, the New York City AM sports radio giant. Obviously, Burnett should have included this basic fact when she introduced Carton.
(Carton is also a bit of a loudmouth. We use that term because that’s the title of the book he wrote about himself.)
Everything Carton said to Burnett may be perfectly accurate. But Carton has no first-hand knowledge of what Rice said to Goodell.
Burnett should have noted this fact. That said, this interview gives us a picture of what a “source” will sometimes be like.
In that “key ESPN report,” Don Van Natta cites four (anonymous) sources who say that Rice was forthright with Goodell in the June 16 meeting. Unfortunately, Van Natta never claims that any of his sources were actually present at the meeting.
By 8 PM last Thursday night, CNN was reporting that all four sources attended the meeting, a claim which is almost surely untrue.
CNN also claimed that the four sources said that Rice told Goodell that he had punched his then-fiancée. None of the sources are actually quoted using that word in the ESPN report.
Was Craig Carton one of Van Natta’s sources? We have no idea. Incredibly, Burnett didn’t ask.
But Carton showed you what a journalist’s “sources” may sometimes look like. He made a very convincing case in favor of Rice, but he was simply repeating things he had been told.
He had no first-hand information. CNN’s telegenic TV star failed to note this fact.
Carton doesn’t actually know what Rice said to Goodell. Do Van Natta’s “sources” know?
That basic question remains unanswered. When our “journalism” comes from Salem Village, does anyone actually care?
Next: A look at that hideous, error-strewn CNN transcript