We've just finished participating in the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin. It's late and we've got other things to do. But we wanted to note the e-mails that "get it" regarding ABC's alteration of Colin Powell's quote.
[For background see our review "TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were" (The Third Estate Sunday Review), C.I.'s "ABC 'fixes' Colin Powell" and Ava's "Note from Ava on ABC's altering Colin Powell's remarks."]
ABC may wish that Colin Powell didn't stammer ("I was, I was . . ."), repeatedly use "uh," say the "United Nations" (which completely disappears from the quote), etc., but he did.
Their seamless, smooth quote is not reality. In that regard, it's one more piece of coverage on the war (beginning with the lead up reporting) that is not reality. ABC did not make an honest mistake. ABC intentionally altered reality. That this came from "ABC news" makes it all the more disturbing. If it were a press release put out by the entertainment division of ABC, it would still be wrong. However, bearing the imprint of "ABC News," it is more than wrong, it is below the standards of journalism. They aren't allowed to do what they did.
They can drop off anything from a quote by noting that they've done so (with ". . ."). They don't do that. They don't even acknowledge the break in the statements they've run together as one unified statement by noting where Barbara Walters' question came.
It's not up to the standards of reporting.
It is, however, consistent with the glossing over Colin Powell and the news media's efforts to always put a halo around their golden boy. We'd argue that the press has pushed the Powell for President nonsense (repeatedly) much stronger than any rumblings from the GOP party on the topic. (Walters pushes it again in the most recent 20/20 interview.)
We'd also argue, and e-mails demonstrate that members feel this way as well, that it's part of the effort to rewrite the war. The interview is one more piece of "we were all wrong" reporting. The altered quote serves that purpose.
If you were on a jury and the accused took the stand, your impression of her/him would be influenced by whether or not s/he spoke smoothly in reply to a direct question. Someone who replied, as Powell did, with stammers, mistakes and "uh"s wouldn't leave the same impression that the Powell of the altered quote does.
We think it's very sad that two online TV critics (two smart ass online TV critics) did a better job of preserving the public record than did ABC News.
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