Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Kelly McEvers requires a correction

Sam Dagher is no longer a journalist so it's good that he ends his career at the Murdoch-owned Wall St. Journal and not at the New York Times or the Christian Science Monitor which earlier employed him. He lied last week. Lying is manufacturing a quote, 'improving' a quote. Novelists can do that. Reporters can't. Manufacturing includes taking a statement, leaving out the middle, to imply that someone said something that they didn't. What Dagher did ranks up there with Judith Miller and, unless and until someone demonstrates that she did worse than stenography, Dagher topped her.

At Third on Sunday, we did "Editorial: Surrendering The Narrative" in which we noted how much damage is being done on the issue of Iraq because Beggar Media is no longer interested in the topic -- except when it's time for their "Send Money! We work hard and we're not corporate media! Send us money! It's really easy! Just put it on your credit card and before you know it, you'll have forked over a few hundred a year for us lazy bums who can't get off our ass and get a real job!"

In that editorial, we noted that the Portland Press Herald's editorial board (Portland, Maine) needs to learn to read especially when it's an issue that's several days old. However, we were far kinder than we would have normally been because it was the holidays. Meaning we grasped how a story that popped up last week -- a badly reported story -- could fly over their heads several days later (when lies were then obvious) due to the fact that the Sunday editorial was most likely written on Thursday as people rushed to take New Year's Eve off.

The holidays are over. Everyone is supposed to have rolled up their sleeves and gotten back to work. There's no excuse for Kelly McEvers repeating lies on NPR this morning. Here (audio not yet available online) for her Morning Edition report. McEvers MISINFORMS listeners:

But in an interview Maliki granted The Wall Street Journal last week, he said the existing agreement is "sealed" — and subject to neither extension nor alteration. Still, he did seem to leave open the possibility of a new agreement.

That's Sam Dagher's bad reporting entitled "Iraq Wants the U.S. Out." He dominated Tuesday's foreign news cycle with his scoop that went poop when his paper was so thrilled to finally be getting mentions on cable for 'reporting' that they released the transcript of his interview with Nouri. As noted in Wednesday's "One pimps, the other fluffs," Dagher's article opens:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ruled out the presence of any U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of 2011, saying his new government and the country's security forces were capable of confronting any remaining threats to Iraq's security, sovereignty and unity.
Mr. Maliki spoke with The Wall Street Journal in a two-hour interview, his first since Iraq ended nine months of stalemate and seated a new government after an inconclusive election, allowing Mr. Maliki to begin a second term as premier.
A majority of Iraqis -- and some Iraqi and U.S. officials -- have assumed the U.S. troop presence would eventually be extended, especially after the long government limbo. But Mr. Maliki was eager to draw a line in his most definitive remarks on the subject. "The last American soldier will leave Iraq" as agreed, he said, speaking at his office in a leafy section of Baghdad's protected Green Zone. "This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration. It is sealed."

And if you hang around until paragraph thirteen of his bad writing (such a Rudith Miller), you learn that Sam Dagher's gotten 'creative' with his lede. But only when you read the transcript do you learn that he altered the quote in the last paragraph, the one that he built his entire article around. Here's what Nouri actually stated and we'll put what Dagher quoted in italics:

The last American soldier will leave Iraq. Secondly this agreement is sealed and at the time we designated it as sealed and not subject to extension, except if the new government with Parliament’s approval wanted to reach a new agreement with America, or another country, that’s another matter. This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration, it is sealed, it expires on Dec. 31

This is so remedial. What Dagher was bad reporting in the extreme. By leaving out Nouri's "Secondly" statement, he's completely altered what Nouri was stating in what can best be termed tabloid journalism. There is no excuse for Kelly McEvers to be repeating -- today -- the following:

But in an interview Maliki granted The Wall Street Journal last week, he said the existing agreement is "sealed" — and subject to neither extension nor alteration. Still, he did seem to leave open the possibility of a new agreement.

He said it was subject to neither extension nor alteration? Yes, that is what Sam Dagher reported. It is not, however, what Nouri said. There is no excuse for it, NPR needs to run a correction. And not where Alicia Shephard gets cutesy and pretends like she doesn't know Henry Norr is a journalist (fired from the San Francisco Chronicle for participating in an anti-war event in April 2003 -- the paper maintains he was fired for using a sick day to attend the event, Noor maintains he was fired for political reasons -- none of this, or the fact that Norr is a journalist, is noted in Shephard's recent 'Me and this Henry Norr exchanged e-mails' column).

Did Nouri -- as McEvers maintains -- state that the "existing agreement is 'sealed' -- and subject to neither extension nor alteration"? Only if, like Dagher, you ignore the "Secondly" where Nouri states "except if the new government with Parliament's approval wanted to reach a new agreement with America, or another country, that's another matter." That's a pretty big exception and including it in the story indicates there is NO story which is why Sam Dagher left it out.

NPR is not Murdoch-owned and is supposed to follow stringent journalistic guidelines. McEver's is not an opinator, she is employed by NPR to report and to report only. Her reporting this morning does not stand. NPR needs to issue a correction.

Last week, we were a little more forgiving of those who repeated the spin and didn't update or correct.

And because a number of people are sure McEvers is "Girlie In The Green Zone" (a blind item which ran here last week), I'll note she's not. I don't believe that reporter's name has ever appeared here. I first became aware of "Girlie" while on the phone with a friend at the outlet who said, "Oh, link to us, we're covering it" and I asked for a URL and for a quote. I said, "I'll give you the link but that story's completely wrong." And it was. And I explained why over the phone it was wrong. (And in a single-sentence statement here I noted they were wrong.) I also said (on the phone) that the mistake didn't appear to be a natural one which would imply someone had other reasons for making it. To me, a red flag. I then forgot about it. While on the phone days later with the same friend, I asked, "Hey, did you follow up on that mistake?" And he hadn't. At which point, I did basic research for about an hour and found out the problems with that 'reporter' which the outlet should have found. The 'reporter' is now being 'managed' or 'tutored' and may soon be gone. (As of this weekend, "Girlie" remained in the Green Zone.)

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends