Supplemental: Seven years later, a few facts emerge!

MONDAY, MAY 4, 2015

The boys on the plane and the sumptuous banquet:
In this morning’s Washington Post, three scribes pen a front-page report about Bill Clinton’s deeply disturbing trip to Kazakhstan in 2005.

This new report may help us see the way our “press corps” works.

Ever so slowly, many years later, basic facts may emerge, or may seem to emerge, as the scribblers in our press corps keep telling their stories and tales. In this morning's report, this is the way the Post describes that famous ride on Frank Giustra’s jet—the famously luxurious jet Bill Clinton was supposed to have ridden in on.

Also, that sumptuous banquet, which takes on a different character as described by the Post:
HAMBURGER (5/4/15): In one case, [Giustra] finalized a massive transaction to buy uranium mines in Kazakhstan days after dining with that nation’s president, along with [Bill] Clinton and about 50 other guests.


Giustra had flown there days before Bill Clinton’s arrival, and the transaction received preliminary approval days after Clinton left—provoking questions about whether Clinton had assisted. The connection was first reported in 2008 by the New York Times.
“The connection was first reported in 2008 by the New York Times?” Yes, it was—apparently, incorrectly!

Ever so slowly, basic facts may emerge, or may seem to emerge, in the press corps’ stories and tales. In this morning’s news report, the Post asserts that Giustra flew to Kazakhstan back in 2005 “days before Clinton’s arrival.”

That isn’t what the Times reported back in 2008. We were also struck by the Post’s account of the dinner the two men attended—a dinner which, according to the Post, was attended by fifty other guests!

That isn’t the way the story worked when “the connection was first reported in 2008 by the New York Times.” At that time, the story was larded with insinuations, based in part upon the idea that Clinton and his hapless friend jetted into Kazakhstan together looking to score a deal.

Below, you see the way Jo Becker started her original front-page report in the Times—a sprawling report which was, as we told you last week, a rather obvious, undisguised type of fairy tale:
BECKER (1/31/08): Late on Sept. 6, 2005, a private plane carrying the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra touched down in Almaty, a ruggedly picturesque city in southeast Kazakhstan. Several hundred miles to the west a fortune awaited: highly coveted deposits of uranium that could fuel nuclear reactors around the world. And Mr. Giustra was in hot pursuit of an exclusive deal to tap them.

Unlike more established competitors, Mr. Giustra was a newcomer to uranium mining in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. But what his fledgling company lacked in experience, it made up for in connections. Accompanying Mr. Giustra on his luxuriously appointed MD-87 jet that day was a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton.

Upon landing on the first stop of a three-country philanthropic tour, the two men were whisked off to share a sumptuous midnight banquet with Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev,
whose 19-year stranglehold on the country has all but quashed political dissent.

Mr. Nazarbayev walked away from the table with a propaganda coup, after Mr. Clinton expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader's bid to head an international organization that monitors elections and supports democracy. Mr. Clinton's public declaration undercut both American foreign policy and sharp criticism of Kazakhstan's poor human rights record by, among others, Mr. Clinton's wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Within two days, corporate records show that Mr. Giustra also came up a winner when his company signed preliminary agreements giving it the right to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan's state-owned uranium agency, Kazatomprom.
From that breathless story-telling, would a reader have dreamed that fifty other guests were present at the “sumptuous midnight banquet” to which the boys were “whisked away” upon the arrival of the jet plane they didn’t take together?

Using the skills of a Arabian story-teller, Becker made that midnight banquet sound like something it apparently wasn’t. Beyond that, it increasingly seems that Becker was simply wrong about her tale of the boys on the jet—a tale which heightened the sense that Clinton had swung the uranium deal, not his hapless friend.

Everybody makes mistakes, of course. In this case, Becker’s apparent mistake about the plane ride helped her pimp a tale she seemed eager to tell.

After that, ohourgod:

In January 2009, Becker’s apparent mistake was contradicted by Forbes, a rather well-known entity. But so what? Two weeks ago, she published a front-page “bombshell report.”

In that report, she simply put the two boys on the luxurious jet again!

Howard Dean’s suspicions were right about that “bombshell report.” Along with her original monstrosity in 2008, Becker’s “bombshell report” should be taught in journalism classes as an example of “sloppy,” or perhaps corrupted, pseudo-journalism.

In terms of its literary form, her original report was fairy tale all the way down—it was silly, targeted story-telling rather than news reporting. And good God! Two weeks ago, she was so clueless or insouciant that she simply repeated a factual claim which had been contradicted six long years before.

The apparent error about the jet plane is the smallest part of the apparent bad faith in the recent “bombshell report.” But ever so slowly, the facts may emerge, or may seem to emerge, when the guild keeps telling a story it likes.

Is the Washington Post correct in its account of the plane trip that wasn’t? We still can’t exactly tell you that! As we’ve long told you, actual facts play almost no role in the work of the “mainstream press corps.”

That said, the Times has now been contradicted by two major orgs about a factual claim it keeps using to pimp an insinuation. That said, does anyone think, for even a minute, that anyone is going to ask the Times to confirm or deny or perhaps correct its repeated claim?

And by the way:

Was the sumptuous midnight banquet really held at midnight? Sabrina Erdely invented all kinds of stupid shit to pimp her tale for Rolling Stone. Can you think of a reason to assume that the horrible Becker didn’t?

In many ways, Becker’s “bombshell report” bears the scent of Rolling Stone. She seems to have interviewed no one, and checked few facts, as she constructed her tale. The quality of her bombshell report is really defined by the reams of information she chose to ignore or omit, thereby driving the insinuations at the heart of her tale.

Back in 2008, her original news report was a third-grade web of insinuation. Her new “bombshell report” is every bit as bad.

Joining Forbes, the Washington Post has now contradicted that insinuation-laden “boys on the plane” assertion. Our prediction, reached at a 2 A.M. happy hour:

At the glorious New York Times, no one is going to care!


  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.

    1. Warning to gullible readers: no commenters have noted that this Post uses the Washington Post, which is conducting a jihad against Hillary Clinton, to refute articles in the New York Times.

    2. Black and white thinking at its best.

  2. Typical Douche TrollMay 4, 2015 at 4:10 PM

    I will arrive soon to let everyone know why, despite the atrocious "journalism" being brought to our attention here and nowhere else, the Real Big Problem is Something Wrong With Somerby. Something.

    1. Seems to me Lyons and Krugman have also been complaining about atrocious journalism.

    2. Thank you Typical Douche Troll (May I call you TDT?) for your breathless satire of our clueless and insouciant trolls who attack Somerby when he identifies the pimps who novelize instead of engage in journalism.

  3. It's too late:
    The official story among the right wingnuts is the Koch brothers use American money, legally earned, and legally donated to legal candidates, all to do good, instead of bad.
    Whereas Hillary uses illegally donated dirty money from Russians, Chinese, and (shudder) Arabs, to implement her progressive, socialist, opaque campaign that provides quid quo pro to our enemies.
    Don't argue. It's a done deal.

    1. No one believes this of that nice grandma except those conservative nuts.

  4. Tales of the Fairy Tale Plane

    "In January 2009, Becker’s apparent mistake was contradicted by Forbes..." Bob Somerby

    From Forbes:

    "The Times spokeswoman further points out that “since our article was published on Jan. 31, 2008, Bill Clinton and Frank Giustra have not challenged a single fact in our story, nor has anyone else.” This is correct, though I’m told that Giustra didn’t challenge the story because he followed “the Clinton camp lead, which was to ignore it and that it would go away.”

    (Wonder who told that to the Forbes writer in such explicit detail it could be put in quotation marks?)

    "After dinner on the evening of Sept. 6, Amed Khan, a longtime Clinton aide who was his advance man on the trip, sat with Clinton and President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan for a private talk. Giustra was not there.....A few hours later, Clinton and Giustra took off for India on Giustra’s plane."

    (It would indeed have been odd for a former US President to cool his heels in Khazahkstan for four days while Giustra finalized his deal,
    and fortunate he has other billionaire friends who put private jets at his disposal)

    "But the manifest of the Chartright Air Group shows a flight date for Giustra’s jet of Sept. 2, 2005, and the list of seven passengers did not include the former president. It did include Amed Khan, Clinton’s advance man."

    It is hard to believe the Times, absent malice, would make such a mistake twice without reason. Perhaps Somerby and Forbes left out the reason they might had had Clinton on the same "fairy tale" plane arriving in Kazakhstan that he clearly left on. Why yes, here it is:

    From the New York Times article in 2008:

    "In separate written responses, both men said Mr. Giustra traveled with Mr. Clinton to Kazakhstan, India and China to see first-hand the philanthropic work done by his foundation."

    Yep. When both agree they were travelling together to Kazakhstan in writing, it is hard to believe the Times would show the incompetence to assume they arrived together on the same plane. They just left on the same plane.

  5. "In separate written responses, both men said Mr. Giustra traveled with Mr. Clinton to Kazakhstan, India and China to see first-hand the philanthropic work done by his foundation."

    Yes, that's what the hack keeps claiming as a way to defend her gross unprofessional conduct. It would be interesting to see precisely what these "written responses" actually said.

    It is queer that you would continue to defend the NY Times. There is a flight manifest. The people being smeared on the front page of the NY Times have already disputed the facts from the original story. A real reporter would check it out. But that might ruin her favored fairy tale.

    1. Well mm, to you, my quoting the New York Times stating they had two independent written confirmations of travel by the two parties is a "queer" continued defense of the Times. I find it interesting that it isn't "queer" to you that Somerby, that paragon of good "journalistic" practice has never managed to put this simple fact in his many posts on the topic. How many times has he called this a fairy tale or labeleled the vehicle a "fairy tale plane" as he hisses and spits at a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for "novelizing."

      She is called a hack by a regular defender of Bob Somerby, a seventeen year critic of journalism who has zero journalism education or experience. Given that he became a classroom teacher without any educational credentials in teaching and only a scant few weeks of training for the job, it is no small wonder he felt qualified to become a self appointed critic in another field after his stab at a performance art career faltered.

      Yes it is "queer" my direct quote of someone you characterize as not "a real reporter" would be categorized as a defense of that unreal reporter by a fan of someone who characterizes an MD-87 jet in which the popular ex-President has travelled many places around the world as a "fairy tale" plane.

      You say you would like to see the written responses given to this grossly unprofessional reporter (who is not a real reporter)? I would like to see the flight manifest the brother of the former Clinton PI says he was shown to write his article in Forbes. You seem to have full faith in the latter but have seen neither.

    2. " is no small wonder he felt qualified to become a self appointed critic in another field after his stab at a performance art career faltered. ..."

      Nice cheap ad hominem shot . Not quite sure what your point is. Anybody can be a critic of the media. That's why they have Letters to the Editor space in newspapers. In this case, the article is so demonstrably bad it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

      "I would like to see the flight manifest the brother of the former Clinton PI says he was shown to write his article in Forbes."

      Yeah, well, see that is the supposed reporter's job. This hack wasn't interested in confirming Giustra's dispute over the facts. This hack Becker had a pleasing story to tell.

      This is really very simple, you are the one putting great store in this vague and fuzzy statement, "In separate written responses, both men said Mr. Giustra traveled with Mr. Clinton to Kazakhstan, India and China..."

      What did the reporter ask, specifically, and what did the "written responses" say EXACTLY? I find no reason or basis to doubt the man who actually, you know, did the traveling. For one thing, the man would have no reason to lie about it. They did confirm that they traveled on from Kazakhstan to India and China on Giustra's plane. There would be no reason to hide it if the President had flown there on the same plane.

      The Forbes article was written 8 years ago. Becker had 8 years to check out her facts. Instead she chose to dust off her original article without even mentioning the dispute. That is one lazy bastard reporter.

      The fact of the matter is that the basic premise of Becker's entire innuendo laced short story is absurd.

      Giustra had done major mining deals in Kazakhstan as far back as the mid-1990s. And as to uranium specifically, Giustra made a study of the uranium market back in 2004 and knew that the need for nuclear plants in India and China, as well as elsewhere, would boost demand.

    3. It appears that Clinton and Giustra neither arrived or left together on the plane. The NYT article clearly implies that they were working together on the uranium deal. Having them arrive together bolsters that claim, so getting it wrong is a major journalistic mistake, especially when there is no real evidence that they were working together on that deal. It is indeed "sloppy" work not to correct that mistake when given the opportunity. You don't have "educational credentials" to see the problem here. Bob is right on this one.

    4. It appears you believe both the Times and Forbes to be in error.

      If the New York times merely reported the fact that Clinton's advance man arrived with Giustra, allowing Clinton to just make a stopover of just a few hours after arriving on billionaire Ron Burkle's plane before leaving on Giustra's plane, that would have changed the implications completely.

  6. Now everybody knows why Pam Geller is outraged.


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    شركة تتنظيف بالبخار بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة غسيل شقق بالمدينة المنورة
    تنظيف منازل بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة غسيل شقق بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة تنظيف فلل بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة تنظيف منازل بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة تنظيف بيوت بالمدينة المنورة
    غسيل كنب بالمدينة المنورة