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Monday, May 07, 2007

Lithium Cola responds to Jonathan Weisman

Lithium Cola, a frequent contributer at dailykos, just posted a response to the ongoing Jonathan Weisman WaPo saga that deserves wider readership (reprinted w/ permission):

The Story

Democrats Back Down On Iraq Timetable
Compromise Bill in Works After Veto Override Fails

By Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, May 3, 2007; Page A01

President Bush and congressional leaders began negotiating a second war funding bill yesterday, with Democrats offering the first major concession: an agreement to drop their demand for a timeline to bring troops home from Iraq.

From Weisman's comment to Sargent

Due to the phrasing of the story's lead, Nancy Pelosi believed it sounded like that concession was offered face to face as she and Bush met at the White House. If it did sound like that, it was completely unintentional. Indeed, the editors of the paper believed the lead made no such inference at all. The concessions were made to me, as a reporter, talking to senior leadership aides and members of leadership. But because the speaker was so insistent that we clarify that the offer was not made to the president himself, I saw no harm in running the clarification as a clarification. We were not retracting or correcting anything.


Umm. The concessions were made to you, Mr. Weisman? That's what you're calling a "clarification" and not a "correction"?

How can Congressional Democrats offer you a concession? Your comment is very clever, I admit, in its attempt to skip past this point . . . but the claim you're making is that the following is the natural reading of your story:

Democrats Back Down On Iraq Timetable
Compromise Bill in Works After Veto Override Fails

By Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, May 3, 2007; Page A01

President Bush and congressional leaders began negotiating a second war funding bill yesterday, with Democrats offering the first major concession to me, as a reporter: an agreement to drop their demand for a timeline to bring troops home from Iraq.

Does that sentence make any sense to you? Would anyone read it that way? Don't you scratch your head and wonder how Democrats could offer a concession to a reporter?

But that's not the real problem.

The real problem is that, in your comment, you write, Mr. Weisman, as if the question of whether "the concession" was "offered" to the President of the United States directly, or instead to you, "as a reporter", is a matter of semantics.

You seem to claim, in all surprise (as if throwing up your hands in bemusement), that Pelosi was splitting hairs on this point:

But because the speaker was so insistent that we clarify that the offer was not made to the president himself, I saw no harm in running the clarification as a clarification.

Mr. Weisman, the "offer" was not "made" AT ALL!

An "offer" made to a reporter is not an offer. You know this. You are not this dense. Perhaps an offer was "discussed" or "planned" or "speculated" but it was not "made" . . . to you.

I find it incredible that you actually believe that. Literally, "incredible" . . . as in "not credible". I believe you are shucking and jiving to avoid accepting responsibility for a blown story.

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