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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Washington Post corrects "Dems back down Story"

It was disheartening to say the least to read the headline "Dems back down Down" on Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray's piece in Washington Post the day after Bush's veto.

Turns out, what they wrote simply wasn't true. Here's the undated correction that tops the piece today:

Correction to This Article
A May 3 Page One article about negotiations between President Bush and congressional Democrats over a war spending bill said the Democrats offered the first major concession by dropping their demand that the bill it include a deadline to bring troops home from Iraq. While Democrats are no longer pushing a firm date for troop withdrawals, party leaders did not specifically make that concession during a Wednesday meeting with Bush at the White House.

Now, an enormous number of press outlets ran with that story and opinion makers, including Karen Tumulty at TIME, used its content to shape their writing, and even, in Tumulty's case to smack down a reader. Problem was, the piece was factually wrong.

This buried correction can be welcomed in the "too little, too late" department...but the unanswered question for the Washington Post, its editors and its journalists is how did this false story end up a front page story in the first place? And, moreover, as awol notes in the comments below, why is Jonathan Weisman's piece in the today's Washington Post titled:

Democrats' Momentum Stalling

Anyone see a pattern here?

{More from Greg Sargent at the Horses Mouth.}

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7 Comments:

  • Boy is this correction woefully lacking -- which is really bad because corrections, more than anything else, should be as accurate and clear as possible. But this correction buries the retraction in a subordinate clause in a sentence that begins: "While Democrats are no longer pushing a firm date for troop withdrawals." This is really misleading since Democrats "are no longer" pushing any policy at the moment -- they are still caucusing on their response. They are neither pushing for a firm date nor NOT pushing for a firm date.

    By Anonymous awol, at 11:27 AM  

  • Also consider this: the headline (which is obviously *the* most important part of an article) read simply "Dems Back Down." This is based entirely on the now-corrected, previously false part of the article. All the sections of the article which *were* accurate wouldn't have justified the headline. And today's Washington Post has a headlined article by the same journalist which says: "Democrats' Momentum is Stalling"!

    By Anonymous awol, at 11:31 AM  

  • Very interesting to contrast this piece with this piece in tomorrow's Times entitled "With New Clout, Antiwar Groups Push Democrats". The piece has many interesting points including these:
    1. This coalition is talking to democratic Congressional staff in conference calls every morning.
    2. They have specifically targeted 57 house districts and Senators in nine states. (Might compare to the list that you put together on this site).
    3. I love when the NY Times, after suggesting the way that this coalition is helping lead the dems toward a possible "short leash" strategy merely says, without any attribution, sourcing or specification, "members of the senate appear to be cool to the idea."

    By Anonymous awol, at 12:00 PM  

  • Trumped banner headlines about boatloads of "missions unaccomplished" by Dems leads WaPo's front page on the right hand side above the fold.

    A story about soldiers overwhelmingly thinking a little torture and killing is no big deal, below the fold.

    I guess that's why their readership is dropping off like flies after a visit from the Orkin man.

    A-holes!

    By Blogger Howling Latina, at 12:17 PM  

  • KO, I just stopped in to thank you, once again, for your excellent foreign policy Diaries at Daily Kos the last few days. I wish more commenters had shown up last night, but you gotta start somewhere. Even though you and I have some sharp disagreements in these matters, I appreciate the quality, depth and seriousness you bring to the discussion. More, please!

    By Blogger Meteor Blades, at 1:30 PM  

  • Thanks MB

    I don't think my coverage is without room for criticism by a long shot, but I truly welcome a chance to discuss and debate and ponder with minds like yours.

    Thanks for visiting and your words.

    paul
    k/o

    By Blogger kid oakland, at 1:42 PM  

  • I would also point out the unnecesary use of the word "specifically" in the Post's correction. Read the correction with this word and then without it: 'specifically' falsely implies that there was some other concessions that were made. It's really a very pernicious thing to include this misleading term in what is, after all, alreay a correction to a false/misleading/inaccurate news story.

    By Anonymous awol, at 6:47 AM  

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