LESSONS UNLEARNED: The one misstatement a scribe can’t make!

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2015

Part 4—Even Brian can’t lie about war:
Was Pope John Paul II lucky enough to bless the young Brian Williams?

In last Sunday’s front-page report, the Washington Post included a rundown of Williams’ shifting stories about the Pope’s 1979 visit to Catholic University, where Williams was a student.

In its hard-copy editions, the Post provided this account of Williams’ shifting stories. On line, the material can all be found here:
A PAPAL VISIT
Oct. 7, 1979: Pope John Paul II visits Catholic University

May 15, 2004: Williams tells graduates of Catholic University in a commencement speech that he recalls shaking Pope John Paul II's hand in front of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

April 6, 2005: After Pope John Paul II's death, Williams says in an NBC Q&A that he "chatted up a Secret Service agent" who told Williams where the Pope would be during his visit to Catholic University. Williams said he used that knowledge to position himself for a handshake, which led to the Pope blessing him.

Jan. 29, 2007: Williams tells Esquire that he met Pope John Paul II at Catholic University by positioning himself where he "just figured that's where [the Pope would] be stopping." He continues: "For me, it's like some force intervenes. Go forward. Meet that person. To this day, that force guides me. It's an emotional intelligence."
When he first told this story (in 2002), Williams didn’t mention actually meeting the Pope at all. As the years went by, his story expanded and deepened.

A handshake appeared, then became a papal blessing. Eventually, Williams marveled at the “emotional intelligence” he himself puts on display in creating such magical moments.

Is Brian Williams “a little bit nutty?” The weirdness of his many stories suggests that possibility. Apparently, though, these peculiar stories were A-OK at NBC News. The Post says these stories were written off as “Brian being Brian.”

According to the Post report, Williams’ colleagues knew that he tended to tell tall tales, but no one ever stopped him. Why didn’t the rest of the mainstream press corps ever speak up?

Why didn’t the press corps speak? For starters, consider the reporting skills the Post displayed in another part of its report.

In the following passage, the Post discusses Williams’ claims about his desperate search for food during Hurricane Katrina. Ten reporters worked on this Post’s report. Their performance here is weak:
ROIG-FRANZIA (2/15/15): In Williams’s telling, the pathos of the scene extended to his crew’s access to food. “We were desperate for food and drink. But not like the people we were seeing in the streets,” he said in the documentary “In His Own Words: Brian Williams on Hurricane Katrina.”

“I remember seeing a box of Slim Jims and thinking, ‘That’s better than any restaurant meal right now. That’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen,’ ” he said.

However, there was abundant food at the Ritz-Carlton, according to [hotel manager Myra] DeGersdorff. The hotel was stocked for a fully booked weekend, and it set out buffet breakfasts, lunches and dinners each day.

Later, after the NBC crew left the hotel, the network set up a compound with about two dozen RVs and had “food being trucked in from Houston,” said a producer who worked with Williams during the storm.
That passage makes it sound like Williams always had plenty of food. That said, the Post’s chronology seems to be weak and uncertain.

DeGersdorff seems to be talking about the weekend before the storm, which hit on a Sunday night/Monday morning. We aren’t told if the Ritz-Carlton had adequate food after that.

We also aren’t told when NBC News left the Ritz-Carlton. Let’s assume that producer is right—that food was trucked in from Houston at some point.

Might there still have been some days when Williams faced a shortage of food? Despite the efforts of ten reporters, the chronology is unclear.

The skills displayed by our mainstream press are often less than impressive. This problem is put on display at the very start of the Post report, when the Post repeats one of Williams’ oldest tales, then vouches for the story as “real” in the absence of any real evidence.

Other basic problems appear in other parts of the Post report. And the Post completely skipped some apparent whoppers by Williams, most strikingly his peculiar claims about ridin’ with Seal Team Six and then receiving their gratitude and their gifts.

The Washington Post’s skill level was less than perfect here. That said, it’s the moral laziness of the press which most stands out in this remarkable tale. Let’s consider a striking part of the Post report, where we learn about the one type of misstatement a newsman, even a famous newsman, isn’t allowed to make.

Williams had told a lot of tall tales down through the years:

He had told tall tales about himself, many of which were highly peculiar.

Earlier on, during Campaign 2000, he had offered a wide array of bizarre reports about the loathsome Candidate Gore. In fairness, the entire “press corps” was playing that game, so his conduct didn’t stand out.

Within the mainstream press corps, it was A-OK when Williams “embellished” about the vile Candidate Gore. It was A-OK when he and Russert staged history’s strangest presidential debate in October 2007, directing a remarkable tandem assault at Candidate Clinton.

It was fine when Williams “embellished,” often crazily, about his own life and career.

That said, there was one type of lie even Williams wasn’t permitted tell. In this passage, an unnamed “NBC journalist” defines that one type of misstatement:
ROIG-FRANZIA: “That’s Brian being Brian” became the newsroom shorthand.

“Brian’s not a liar,” said an “NBC Nightly News” journalist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because network management has strongly discouraged staffers from speaking publicly about Williams. “He’s a guy who gets caught up in the story. He’s a great storyteller. But sometimes storytellers embellish. But you don’t embellish about getting hit by an RPG.”
You can embellish about a White House campaign. You can talk ridiculous smack about a major candidate.

You can embellish about the Pope. You can tell a crazy story about Vienna sausages.

You can embellish about your own life and career just as much as you want. But according to this NBC colleague, you simply aren’t allowed to embellish about events in a war zone!

It’s the one lie a newsman can’t tell! The late David Carr described the same disgraceful ethical standard in this, his final column for the New York Times:
CARR (2/9/15): [I]f you are going to tell a war story that sprints past the truth, it best not be about war. Those of us who worked the Hurricane Katrina coverage rolled our eyes at some of the stories Mr. Williams told of the mayhem there, but it was a dark, confusing place and a lot of bad stuff happened, so who were we to judge? But armed service and its perils are seen as sacred and must not be trifled with. The soldiers who ended up in harm’s way and survived that day are calling him out because their moral code requires it.
In that remarkable passage, Carr seemed to say what the Post later seemed to say:

Many people inside the press corps knew that Williams was telling tall tales. He just couldn’t lie about war, David Carr seemed to say.

We’ll say this for Carr and for that NBC journalist—they were describing the world of the press corps as it really exists.

Williams and major NBC colleagues dissembled, embellished and misstated at will all through the years which led to that war. In Williams’ case, they endlessly broadcast absurd complaints about one candidate’s clothes.

But once they got us into that war, their guild’s one ethical rule obtained—a journalist isn’t allowed to lie in a way which steals the glory of war. When Brian Williams was seen to do that, his house of cards came down.

On this basis, these hideous people proceed along with our “national discourse.” That discourse is almost wholly faux. It tends to be narrative all the way down.

There’s little they say that’s actually true. Williams, who seems to be basically nuts, finally broke their one rule.

93 comments:

  1. Warning to casual readers of this blog: These comments are unmoderated. They are infested by one or more trolls who routinely attack the blog author in a variety of ways, rarely substantive. Such attacks are not an indicator of the level of interest of other readers, the validity of the content posted nor of the esteem in which the blog author is held by others.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Warning to casual readers of this blog: An indicator of why interested "other" readers of this blog hold the blog author in high esteem:

      "In that remarkable passage, Carr seemed to say what the Post later seemed to say:

      Nobody writes a two-seemed fastball like Somerby.

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    2. People who read this blog casually are likely to be the first casualties.

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    3. Hello Everyone I am Daniel Steve from Texas, USA. I will like to share the goodness of God in my life after so many months of trying to get a loan on the internet and was been scammed so i became restless and desperate in getting a loan from a legit lender online. But as God would have it, i saw a comment from a friend called William Ken and he talked about this legit loan company where he got his loan fast and easy without any stress so he introduced me to a man called Mr Mason Diego who controls a firm called Diego Loan Company, So i applied for a loan sum of ($170,000.00USD) with low interest rate of 2%, so the loan was approved and deposited into my bank account in less than 48hrs, that was how i was able to get back on my feet to keep my broken business running and also to pay off my bills so i am advising everyone of you who is interested in getting a loan without collateral, no credit check, no co signer with just 2% interest rate and better repayment plans/ schedule, to please contact Mr Mason Diego. You can contact him through his email: diegoloancompany@yahoo.com

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  2. For casual readers of this blog:

    An example of the "validity of the content posted"

    The Post says these stories were written off as “Brian being Brian.”

    According to the Post report, Williams’ colleagues knew that he tended to tell tall tales, but no one ever stopped him."

    That is not what the Post reported. That is Bob Somerby being Brian.

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    1. Excessively literal as always.

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    2. This is your disclaimer writer thinking everyone is as nutty as she/he and Brian.

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  3. Isn't it a sin to lie about the pope?

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    1. Does a grizzly bear shit in a funny hat?

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    2. It used to be a sin to eat Vienna sausage on Friday, according to the Pope.

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    3. None of William's comments about his enounter with the Holy Father is inconsistent with any other.

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    4. I believe the blessing of the Holy Father may explain why this humble lad rose to great heights. Nothing else does.

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    5. My late grandmother lit a candle every day hoping for a blessing from the Holy Father. She never even came close to shaking hands with our local anchorman. But she watched him daily after mass.

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    6. I accept Francis as the Holy Father. I think Benedict has been the best ex-Pope of the last 100 years, maybe of all time. I wonder if that would make cicero think I am a conservative.

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    7. @ 4:42

      Don't look now, but you have eggs Benedict on your visage.

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    8. @ 3:57 is probably right. It was the Pope's blessing which made Williams an anchorman.

      If Williams had said he prayed to the Pope in that Kansas cornfield when both his Dodge Dart and his career were dead, and seen a vision of the Pope on a cornstalk, the Vatican could have used his miraculous meteoric rise at NBC as one of the miracles needed to fast track John Paul II's rise to Sainthood.

      It would have been great for ratings and made that damn Costa Rican woman with her minor brain aneurysm irrelevant.

      Plus many New Mexico Catholic families may have found holy images of the NBC Peacock appearing when they fried corn tortillas.

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  4. “One thing this experience has not done is shake my trust and belief in him as a man. He’s a really good man, an honest man, a truthful man — he has so much integrity and so much respect for journalism. And yes, he’s a really good dad. I know you can trust him because, as any good daughter does, I’ve tested him on that.”

    “Girls” star Allison Williams 2/18/15

    “NBC Nightly News” has lost 700,000 viewers since Williams’ suspension"

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    1. cicero's daughter has yet to comment on her dad. Is it because of strict household orders not to talk about incest, or because she never was allowed to read and write? I don't know, and neither do you.

      Even if he denies there is a problem, we will only have the same type of source reporters use for Brian Williams bathos filled tales of his early years. It could be true. Anything is possible.

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    2. It sounds as if you took too many bathos with your pop.

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    3. silly wing nut. i had 2 mommies.

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    4. Immigration. And the State of Texas.

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    5. "It could be true. Anything is possible."

      We just don't know.

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    6. "Who ever doubted it?"

      Pay attention: anything is possible. We just don't know.

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    7. Then why is she doing porn, disgracing daddy?

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    8. I didn't know cicero's daughter did porn. But what makes you think he finds that disgraceful?

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    9. No point trying to explain a civilized or moral mindset to a liberal. They lack the upbringing or the IQ points or both to work it out.

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    10. So innate stupidity and bad upbringing are the cause of liberals being immoral and disliked? I wonder why Somerby has never said so in the many times he has pointed out liberals are that, plus lazy and dumb.

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  5. Stlll....going.....on............about................Brian.............Williams...............................

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    1. I am happy Bob still remembers we don't know what the hell actually happened in Haiti. Alas, he doesn't either, although his readers seem to let him get away with it.

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    2. Bob's blog still has spam. In those lean years in Kansas (actually Missouri in some tellings) Williams claims to have eaten spam. Just saying.

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    3. I don't understand why everyone is picking on Brian Wilson. He wrote some get songs when he was with the Beach Boys.

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    4. We're talking about Brian Wilson from the other coast. He isn't a musician but he is a heck of a Springsteen fan. At least in his tale. We don't think it has been verified.

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  6. If embellishing stories from a war zone is verboten, how did Bill-o Reilly get away with his Falklands stories?

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    1. Las Malvinas son de Argentina.

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    2. Silly boy. Bob explained before that right-wing lies don't count. It's only when "progressives" like Williams lie that his heart truly breaks.

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    3. Seventeen pointless years and poor "stickler" doesn't get it.

      Why are you here?

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    4. @ 3:56

      If B.S. didn't suffer myocardial infarction from POTUS Obama's whoppers, he is not going into arrhythmia from a left wing former news nitwit.

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    5. So cicero. Why aren't you as equally concerned about Bill "Ernie Pyle" O'Reilly's equally stunningly false war stories?

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    6. War makes strange giant creatures out of little anchor men who infect our daily discourse.

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    7. cicero is independently wealthy from investing in loofahs starting in 2004. Add that to trolling royalties and the rest is history.

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  7. "Within the mainstream press corps, it was A-OK when Williams “embellished” about the vile Candidate Gore."

    Bob Somerby has never presented a thing about Gore which Williams embellished. Perhaps that is why he put the words in quotation marks.
    Sneaky writers do that. I learned that at the Daily Howler.

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    1. You make it sound like Somerby is trying to mislead us into thinking he is quoting someone. I find that "a little bit nutty."

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    2. You don't miss a thing, do you?

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    3. Friday, August 23, 2013. It was almost as glorious a day as when the Pope visited Catholic University. I was there, positioned at my desktop, when Bob Somerby posted the definitive work on quotation marks. Who but the most casual of TDH fans could have missed it?

      After all, two of Bob's favorites, Maureen Dowd and Al Gore were involved.

      http://dailyhowler.blogspot.com/2013/08/what-heck-is-misquotation.html

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    4. Hmmmm. Looking that post of Aug. 23, 2013, I find this:

      "Once you open quotation marks, the words which follow should be the exact words the person said, with minor allowances for minor housekeeping matters. You don’t have to write down “um.” If someone stumbles over a word, you don’t have to record that. Dowd re-scrambled McCray’s statement in major ways. As paraphrase, it’s very weak. But it simply isn’t a quotation."

      My how mobile those goal posts are!

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    5. Using mobile goal posts is not an indicator of the level of interest of other readers, the validity of the content posted nor of the esteem in which the blog author is held by others

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    6. Daily Howler
      10/12/1999

      Life of Brian: Last night, handsome anchor Brian Williams was facing a major problem. He had to report good news for Gore—the pending endorsement of the AFL-CIO. What to do? Here's the way the Adonis-like tribune kicked off the nettlesome segment:

      WILLIAMS: A big endorsement from big labor for Vice President Al Gore. Now, while anticipated over the past several days, it comes at a critical time. But will it help, really, after what Gore woke up to in the New York Times over the past three days?

      Wow! Gore must have been reading some horrible stuff, to offset the long-sought endorsement! In the segment, Williams mentioned only one newspaper story. He spoke to Howard Fineman:

      WILLIAMS: These have been tough times as you know for [Gore]. The New York Times devoted this smiley-face graphic and half the op-ed page above the fold today—"Memo to Gore: Express Yourself," a very close-to-patronizing series of people's opinions on how he can save the race...It gets rough.

      There were six serious opinions expressed in the piece, plus a spoof from comedian Al Franken. We thought you might want to get the flavor of those embarrassing opinions about Gore.

      Mario Cuomo penned this "rough" treatment:

      CUOMO: Few people challenge Vice President Gore's intelligence, personal rectitude and substantive command...Trading issues head to head with any of his opponents—or just on the stump—Al Gore will be charming, compelling and much stronger than he is as President Clinton's "Mr. Vice President."

      Nasty stuff. Howard Rubinstein went further, saying this:

      RUBINSTEIN: [Gore] must emphasize that we have a sound economy and a content public and that we remain the world's leader. Then he must take credit for it. After all, he helped get us there.

      Phew! And it gets even worse than that. Charles Rangel got out the darts:

      RANGEL: Bradley is not a serious threat; there's no substance there. He's just a pleasant alternative to those Democrats who want change. But this primary race is a healthy thing. It will rev Al Gore up and test him for the main event.

      How could Gore keep reading? Deborah Tannen offered a communicator's analysis:

      TANNEN: Al Gore's talents are different [from President Clinton's]. He is warm and personable in private and articulate but formal in public. That's why he excels in debate, because his private style is just right for that setting. But he also needs to find a way to bring his private strengths into the public sphere.

      George McGovern said that Bradley "has taken the initiative on issues like health care and campaign finance reform." He also said he would like Gore to commit to "full public financing of Presidential and Congressional elections:"

      MCGOVERN: This is the most practical way to end special-interest contributions and to allow the candidates with the most innovative ideas—always Mr. Gore's strong point—to reach the public.

      In these short opinion pieces, we hear that Gore is intelligent, honest, substantive, sure to win, warm, personable, and articulate. We also hear that he is partly responsible for the good economy, the happy public, and our standing as world leader. He's innovative with ideas, too. Only one of the six contributors—an ad exec who worked for Jesse Ventura—offered comments that were "rough" or "patronizing."

      Williams' viewers likely thought the whole piece was a slam. But then, that's what Williams wanted them to think. What he told them was baldly inaccurate.

      The notion that this op-ed offsets the AFL-CIO endorsement? It's another example of the ludicrous spin offered nightly by the hunky cable anchor. And it illustrates a basic theme now evident on this troubling program. In dealing with Gore, every bit of news will be undercut and massively spun.

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    7. Thanks CMike.

      There is not a thing in there "about Gore" which Williams embellished.

      Williams to three days of coverage of Gore in the New York Times. He mentions, according to Somerby, only one article by name and characterizes it as "a very close-to-patronizing series of people's opinions on how he can save the race."

      That may be bad analysis by Williams, and I can't say without access to all three days of the Times and the whole article mentioned by name. But it does not embellish anything about Gore.

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    8. "Adonis-like tribune"??????

      Somerby thinks Brian Williams is like Adonis?

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    9. Actually Somerby didn't write here that Williams embellished "about Gore"- that would be true only in a truncated sense. The line you quoted was [my emphasis]:

      Within the mainstream press corps, it was A-OK when Williams “embellished” about the vile Candidate Gore.

      You're right, as to Williams' analysis of those three days of Times coverage of Candidate Gore you can't say for sure if it was bad, at least not until you avail yourself of the Times archives. In the meantime, it's obvious that Somerby did make a case that at one time Williams was embellishing in reference to Candidate Gore. Or are you going to argue that at the point where Williams was suggesting Gore's candidacy was on the rocks despite an AFL-CIO endorsement that that was not Somerby pointing to an instance where Williams was embellishing about "vile Candidate Gore"?

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    10. Well clearly you want to use the two words "vile candidate" to mean Somerby was not talking about Gore the person, but instead the position of Gore as a candidate in a race. If so, we will play along, noting that Somerby's description is fuzzy.

      Somerby practices exactly that which he preaches against with such regularity that I would indeed have to have access not only to all three days of the Times but also to a transcript of the NBC program from which Mr. Somerby "quotes."

      The question upon which our difference of opinion hinges, however, is whether bad analysis by a pundit constitutes embellishment.

      For example, Somerby repeatedly uses words close to this exact quote in discussing the 2000 Presidential race. "By mid-September, official Washington had largely decided that the race was over" or "inside Washington, it was widely believed that the White House campaign was over". When you try and figure out what Somerby used to justify the "largely decided" or "widely believed" fact, you keep coming back to one column, written in early September, by Robert Novak, which Somerby cites with equal frequency. The Novak column, however, written in early September, was about Republicans, not official Washington, and they were panicked about Bush.

      Was Bob embellishing Novak's column? Was Novak embellishing about vile candidate Bush? Or are they both guilty of the same bad analysis one might apply to describe the work of Williams in this instance?

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    11. Stick with Maddow @ 4:03 pm, she's a team player; she'll never steer you wrong; and the great thing is you won't care if she does.

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    12. In football parlance you didn't just punt, you quick kicked,

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    13. Yeah, right after you referred to View from Nowhere anchor Williams as a pundit. I mean, what's the point of sliding around on the slick?

      [ ...our difference of opinion hinges, however, is whether bad analysis by a pundit constitutes embellishment.]

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    14. Perhaps he meant to refer to Williams with the Indian honorific "Pandit." That said, in my view, it seemed to be more of the Irish meaning of the word. For a good example of the irish use of "pundit, we turn to famed Irish blogger, Bob Somerby:

      "How Irish did NBC News become? By the time Bush and Gore stages their three debates, this was the pundit lineup debating their battles on MSNBC:

      Brian Williams, moderator
      Chris Matthews
      Doris Kearns Goodwin
      Peggy Noonan
      Mike Barnicle

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  8. Mrs. Ultrasound only got a year and a day. And it was all her damn fault.

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    1. Pity. I knew she'd have trouble being admitted to a four year program.

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  9. Did you know Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck once lived in town with Brian Williams?

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    1. I didn't know Glenn and Ann were an item.

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  10. "Williams, who seems to be basically nuts, finally broke their one rule."

    They used to have at least two. According to TDH.

    But then David Corn and David Ignatius went and broke one of them by naming names so I guess they threw that one out.

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    1. Didn't a leader of the liberal guild recently call for Corn to be put in the "kill zone" for breaking that rule and naming names?

      February 20, 2015 at 7:00 PM

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    2. O'Reilly won that dispute.

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    3. What does O'Reilly have to do with this?

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    4. Very simple. If the war lies of Brian Williams deserve two weeks of howling, shouldn't the war lies of Billy O. deserve at least a mention in the combox?

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    5. Why? Everyone already knows that Bill O'Reilly is a big fat liar. Al Franken documented that extensively. When a guy is a known liar, who cares about one more lie?

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    6. O'Reilly won that dispute.

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    7. That may be what O'Reilly says but he is a well known liar. His historical books routinely get bad reviews for their historical inaccuracies.

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    8. Bill O'Reilly brand uses no artificial ingredients in his Vienna sausage.

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  11. Next mega-series- How libs and the media are treating Bill O'Reilly like the media treated Al Gore from 1999 on. Key phrase: "combat action".

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    1. Bill O'Reilly brand uses no preservatives or artificial sweetners in his Vienna sausage.

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  12. This classic video is all I need to know about our news media: In December 2001, on Meet The Press, Tim Russert showed the fabulous bin Laden cave cartoon and the Secretary of Defense affirmed it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgWrnahej2c I don't believe NBC news ever made a public correction/mea culpa that nothing remotely like those caves was ever found. How many Afghans died for the "intelligence" that there was a superman with super caves in that country?

    Knowing the fact of that TV interview at the most prestigious level of journalism, interviewing the top of the heap, the Secretary of Defense, one should be pretty skeptical. Its only gotten worse since 2001 as they are able to base stories on "social media" and videos posted anonymously on the internet.

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    1. It's almost as if they seemed to say:

      "Here at THE HOWLER, we’ve never doubted that Bin Laden had caves of mass destruction. In fact, we’d be surprised if he didn’t. We think antiwar types set themselves up for a fall when they crow about the lack of quick discovery."

      There is no reason issuing a correction for lazy dumb liberals to crow about and make more people dislike them.

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  13. TL;DR

    "a journalist isn’t allowed to lie in a way which steals the glory of war"

    The pith of the Williams brouhaha, certainly. In this though, the press mirrors the populace's own fatal attraction to the sainted military.

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  14. You are also not allowed to lie about your sex life, even to keep it private. That's why they went after Gary Hart and Bill Clinton and John Edwards and any number of other politicians, because of their lies more than the behavior itself. I believe it would be the same for a journalist and that would be a sacred category of lie not permitted, even though it is entirely unrelated to job performance.

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  15. em·bel·lish·ment
    əmˈbeliSHmənt/

    "When he first told this story (in 2002), Williams didn’t mention actually meeting the Pope at all. As the years went by, his story expanded and deepened." The Daily Howler

    When he first told this story (in 2002), Williams didn’t mention actually meeting the Pope at all.

    Alas! Embellishment No. 1. Your friend at The Howler has no idea when Williams first told a story about Pope Paul II's visit to Washington in 1979.

    "When he first told this story (in 2002), Williams didn’t mention actually meeting the Pope at all."

    Uh-oh! Embellishment No. 2. The creator of the Howler didn't mention the fact that the source for this version is Catholic University's public affairs office in 2008, which reports a quote purportedly given to the University six years earlier. No source is given for that quote and none can be found through a Google search.

    "When he first told this story (in 2002), Williams didn’t mention actually meeting the Pope at all."

    Gack! Embellishment No. 3. Somerby of the Howler, who is probably a good person, cannot possible know what Williams did or did not mention in 2002 because he simply relies on a 2008 repeat of one quote taken from an unknown source said to have been affiliated with Catholic University in 2002.

    "When he first told this story (in 2002), Williams didn’t mention actually meeting the Pope at all. As the years went by,his story expanded and deepened."

    Can we talk? As a two sentence paragraph went on, three embellishments in the first sentence became full blown spin in the second. Like the journalists Somerby calls lazy for relying on Williams's spin to tell his early years biography, Somerby relies only on the examples cited by the Washington Post for Williams tales of his encounter with the Pope in 1979. Somerby's explanation of the 2005 version of the story, involving a Secret Service agent, differs from the story told by Williams in such a way as to make it appear the 2007 version contradicts the earlier tale, which, if one consults the original sources, it does not. And clearly, the version recounted by Williams in 2007 is not expanded over that of 2005. And why, you might ask, was that 2005 version so "expanded" and "deeper" than the others? Perhaps because Williams was actually covering the death of the Pope in Rome when he made the comments, and none of the other quotes had the Pope as the primary topic of discussion. Is that just a detail Somerby chose to leave out, just as Williams may leave out or add a detail or two in the various times he might tell a story over several years time? Or is it a sign Somerby is "a little bit nutty" or maybe even "basically nuts?" I just don't know.

    I do know you can take two sentences of one older, experienced blogger and demonstrate he has done exactly what the tarnished news anchor and lazy reporters featured in this post have been criticized for doing.

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    1. That's only because you are preoccupied with superficialities and miss the importance of things. Why do you keep wasting people's time with this?

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    2. Things are important. I am glad you took the time to point out how he missed that.

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  16. In the last decade Somerby showed Oscar was getting better. We still think things are getting better, though we doubt that those R-bombs being dropped outside the awards ceremony today will help. They probably ruined any chance Selma had.

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  17. It's called narcissism. The narcissist tells stories in which he is the hero, or the center of attention because he believes he is the hroo or the center of attention. All stories are about him because he is the only part of his universe that is real. The rest of the universe is nothing more than a stage set in which he wanders from set to set, all of which exist to serve his purpose, and all of which cease to exist when he exits to the next set.

    If you try to correct his veri=sion he simply does not hear you. You cannot offer any view differing from his, because you are not real. He will not become angry, he will simply not hear you. You are a part of the stage set which serves to suppoort his pathology, and since you only are there to facilitate his existence, how can you alter what he percieves? You cannot.

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    Replies
    1. Hmmmm, so is any of that behavior on display in the Williams' case? Seems to me he apologized and corrected himself quite publicly, then suspended himself before accepting a longer suspension from the network.

      Of course, behind the scenes there may have been much kicking and screaming. Anything is possible, of course, but we don't know that, and the Great Somerby himself has warned us repeatedly against speculating about things without solid, conclusive evidence to back it up.

      He has also repeatedly warned against both mind-reading and practicing psychiatry without a license.

      So forgive me if I find you contribution to this thread to be a gross violation of the very clear Rules of Somerby.

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    2. Agreed @ 10:56 and thank you for quickly pointing out the violation of the Rules of Somerby, something other readers observe frequently in comments but fail to do anything to stop.

      I'd have to say Jayhawk is either a little bit nutty or maybe even basically nuts.

      Of course none of this explains why someone with a degree from Harvard, a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford and over half a century of living keeps faking late life epiphanies, but more about Kristof later in the week.

      On the other hand, ratings for the Oscar took a double digit drop. Perhaps it is not a coincidence this was almost the exact percentage of blacks in America. But when you look at the fact that hosting decisions made by Hollywood elites rubbed the Gay Agenda in America's face for the second year in a row and Mexican immigrants keep taking awards deserved by people of non color you have to say Uh Oh! Liberals do work hard to make everyone dislike us.

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    3. Jayhawk's discussion of narcissism and Somerby's assessment of William's advancing nuttiness does not constitutes practicing psychiatry. Reserving serious discussions of aberrant behavior of our elites to the academic elite is a symptom of mental illness or brain injury.

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    4. Agreed @11:25. I don't disagree with any of the agenda worked into the speeches but it was nauseating nonetheless. Gay is safe. They steer clear of income disparity because someone might ask why the preaching self-impressed star doesn't take home a half million and divide the other 15 million per picture salary among the best boys.

      Delete
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