2007/06/04

More fun with the media

"In an advance copy of the new book Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton (Little, Brown & Co.) obtained by Media Matters for America, co-authors Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr." make a charge against the Clinton's right in the beginning of their book and repeat that charge using the words " 'plan,' 'pact,' or 'project' more than 20 times in Her Way."

"In the prologue of Her Way, Gerth and Van Natta write:
"More than three decades ago, in the earliest days of their romance, Bill and Hillary struck a plan, one that would become both the foundation and the engine of their relationship. They agreed to work together to revolutionize the Democratic Party and ultimately make the White House their home.14 Once their "twenty-year project" was realized, with Bill's victory in 1992, their plan became even more ambitious: eight years as president for him, then eight years for her.15 Their audacious pact has remained a secret until now."

Problem: The books authors provide no evidence that such a " 'plan,' 'pact,' or 'project' " ever existed. As a matter of fact, one of their sources, the historian Taylor Branch, calls the allegations of a secret 20-year plan "preposterous." At no time do they show that any of their sources refer to any such plan. The closest they come is to quote a source who neither confirmed nor denied that the quote used was accurate. The Media Matters piece is lengthy, 28 kilobytes, most of which consists of quotes from the book concerning this "plan." After trying to track down exactly where the authors got the main theme of their book, Media Matters concludes that the authors were using, as the British might say, "dodgy and iffy" sources, or more to the point, Media Matters concludes the authors pretty much just made it up.

Amusing endnote:

"Additionally, according to a May 30 weblog post by Smith on Politico.com, Van Natta wrote to Smith: "[T]he Clinton people should wait until the book comes out before they nitpick everything from our alleged 'main premise' to footnotes."

Well, of course they should wait! That way, their [entirely justified] complaints get lost in the media chatter about the book and get shunted aside as booksellers seek to make money off of selling lots and lots of copies of the book.

Eric Boehlert does some further digging into the journalistic career of one of the authors, Jeff Gerth, and recounts quite a few interesting facts about Gerth's career. Seems that Gerth was a major writer on the Whitewater case, a case that thoroughly disproved the old saw about "Where there's smoke, there's fire." In Whitewater, the allegations of wrongdoing by the Clintons proved to be entirely smoke with no actual wrongdoing, or "fire" ever having been discovered. Gerth further disgraced himself and the New York Times by making utterly baseless accusations against Dr Wen Ho Lee, who spent 278 days in jail while Gerth won himself a Pulitzer for the same reporting. Dr Lee was then released for lack of evidence and again, the American public saw a lot of smoke, but no fire.

America's major media outlets are in very sad shape today because of the kind of abysmally poor "reporting" done by Gerth. Let's hope he doesn't get away with it this time and that fellow major media outlets report, truthfully this time, that there was no secret Clinton plan.

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