Sunday, March 21, 2004

Bad Journalism From the Enquirer Editorial Page

It appears that the Cincinnati Enquirer Editorial Page writers don't read the Drudge Report much. I have to admit I don't either, but most major blogs linked to the Drudge story that reported the email from Boston Globe Reporter who corrected his transcription of what Kerry said and correct a word that was fairly important:
BOSTON GLOBE reporter's email correction:

Subject: FW: Senator Kerry's remark at fundraiser about foreign leaders wanting him to beat Bush

Poolers,

Given the growing attention to Senator Kerry's remark at the Fla. fundraiser about foreign leaders wanting him to beat Bush, and Kerry's subsequent statements that he'd merely "heard from" leaders, I went back to my recording of the event to re-confirm his remarks and put them in context. I wanted to provide that for all of you as well as CORRECT the record on a key word that I mistranscribed.

When Kerry concluded his stump to the Florida fundraisers and donors, Milton Ferrell, Kerry's Florida finance chair, piped up:

MILTON FERRELL: "This is more than just the 50 states. You travel around outside the states, the people are still [inaudible] Europeans and elsewhere, they're counting on the American people. They hate Bush, but they know we're going to get rid of him. They're counting on us. [inaudible] It's a lot more than just [inaudible]-"

KERRY: "I've been hearing it, I'll tell ya. The news, the coverage in other countries, the news in other places. I've met more leaders who can't go out and say it all publicly, but boy they look at you and say, you gotta win this, you gotta beat this guy, we need a new policy, things like that. So there is enormous energy out there. Tell them, whereever they can find an American abroad, they can contribute," a reference to donations, prompting laughter from the crowd.

Transcribing on the bus in Florida, and again on the plane ride to Tampa, I heard "foreign leaders" rather than "more leaders." Listening to the audio recorder now, in the quiet of my house, I hear "more leaders" and I am certian that "more leaders" is what Senator Kerry said. I am very sorry for this screw-up, and please feel free to hold me accountable to your editors and higher-ups.

-- Patrick
Josh Marshall, who I regularly read, also reported this and adds:
Late Monday, Boston Globe reporter Patrick Healy, who filed the pool report that included the quote in question, announced that he’d gotten it wrong. Kerry said “more leaders,” not “foreign leaders.” Still, the context shows pretty clearly that foreign leaders of some sort were the folks Kerry was talking about. And in the week since the quotation was first reported, he’s never denied that this was what he meant.
Josh reports that the context makes "foreign leaders" seem to be what Kerry meant, which may be true.
Marshall's point that what Kerry said was foolish. I would not say foolish, but rather careless. If he had not
referred to leaders and instead referred to the people around the world, he would have be not only correct, but less open to criticism.

Where the Enquirer fails is in using the wrong quote from Kerry. The Drudge story came out last Monday. One might think they would have gotten word about it by now. It is no surprise that Bush is not using it correctly and is running with "foreign." That tactic creates a subtext of Kerry as a "foreigner" and plays up Bush's Jingoistic message to his base.

Who does the Enquirer think Gerhard Schroeder really wants to win the election?
Several foreign leaders, including Germany's Gerhard Schroeder, have denied even talking to Kerry, let alone "endorsing" him.
Why do you think Kerry said, "...who can't go out and say it all publicly," in the quote above? Gee I wonder why foreign leaders are not out there endorsing Kerry publicly, you don't think that directly interfering in the politics of another country is just slightly viewed poorly by most people?

What is funny about this whole thing is the big deal Bush is making about this. Every GOP is running with this issue. Well, I say issue and I don't really mean it. It is not an "issue" in the sense that for instance the Iraq War or Gay Marriage is and issue. If Bush wants to attack Kerry on his Tax policy or Foreign Policy and play games of gotcha on what he said, I will bitch about the details, but not about tactics.

It would be nice for the Enquirer to not play willing partner in this game of meaningless word games. If Kerry words impacted US policy or Law or his vote in the Senate, then have at him.

Where words matter is in policy and how the public is informed about that policy, which is why bashing BushCo for lying about the threat Iraq posed and about misrepresenting the evidence on WMD. That would be the real thing when it comes to holding people accountable for what they said. I don't expect the Enquirer to do that. That would mean challenging BushCo, and I think the local BushCo faithful would "riot" if they did.

Naming names is what Cheney and Powel have been calling on Kerry to do about foreign leaders. What is ironic is that Cheney has refused to name the names of those on his Energy task force, and Bush has refused to easily find out the names of those who leaked the name of a CIA operative to Bob Novak. So not naming names seems to be something BushCo knows something about.

UPDATE: Meet the Press' Tim Russert seemed to be able to get the quote right:
MR. RUSSERT: John Kerry is now taking some heat for these words: "I've met more leaders who can't go out and say it"--"pubicly, but boy they look at you and say, you gotta win this, you gotta beat this guy, we need a new policy."
Now, compared to what the Enquirer reported today:
John Kerry may not have a lock on the U.S. electorate, but apparently he's won over the mighty overseas. Just ask him: "I've met with foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but, boy, they look at you and say: 'You've got to win this.' "
A fine point, but one that would not have gotten the play if the original reporter had transcribed things correctly.

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