Update: Welcome, Instalanchers! (and a hat-tip to Tom Maguire for transmitting coded blogging signals into Glenn Reynold's nanotubes). While you're here, check out You Keep Missing The Target for an example of another error that we hope will someday be corrected. To Dream The Impossible Dream is my latest post on coverage of the Libby Trial. And this is a photo of my server. Update Update: My serene observations about today's follow-up story.
The item you came here for:
I've been busy elsewhere while getting all kinds of emails and comments about some correction about Feith or something, Hot Air and Gateway have something on it, yeah, fine, after I finish running up odds on whether Andrea Mitchell will testify in the Libby Trial next week. But yikes, in the entire history of PostWatch I have never seen a correction like this one, in reference to Official's Key Report on Iraq Is Faulted by Walter Pincus and R. Jeffrey Smith:
A Feb. 9 front-page article about the Pentagon inspector general's report regarding the office of former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith incorrectly attributed quotations to that report. References to Feith's office producing "reporting of dubious quality or reliability" and that the office "was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda" were from a report issued by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in Oct. 2004. Similarly, the quotes stating that Feith's office drew on "both reliable and unreliable reporting" to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq "that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration" were also from Levin's report. The article also stated that the intelligence provided by Feith's office supported the political views of senior administration officials, a conclusion that the inspector general's report did not draw.The two reports employ similar language to characterize the activities of Feith's office: Levin's report refers to an "alternative intelligence assessment process" developed in that office, while the inspector general's report states that the office "developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers." The inspector general's report further states that Feith's briefing to the White House in 2002 "undercuts the Intelligence Community" and "did draw conclusions that were not fully supported by the available intelligence."
The characteristic quality here is this: The Post cannot resist pointing out that even though there were massive mistakes in a major page 1 story, other parts of the story were right or, my favorite, similar to being right: The two reports employ similar language to characterize the activities of Feith's office. This is of course a bedrock principle taught in Journalism 101--Chapter 1: When Something Similar Is Good Enough.
This is not my favorite correction, however. My favorite correction is a story written by Petula Dvorak and published Sept. 23, 2005, about antiwar demonstrators: Antiwar Rally Will Be A First For Many. One of the many ways reporters were gulled back then was in the person of one Patrice Cuddy, who apparently presented herself as just a regular ole' Middle American finally roused by the outrage of the war:
The seasoned protesters who organized tomorrow's antiwar demonstration are well-versed in many other causes. They have marched and rallied against police brutality, racism, colonialism and the policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
But their message on the Mall tomorrow will be singular: "End the war in Iraq."
Because of that sharp focus, they will be joined by novice protesters such as Patrice Cuddy, 56. Interviewed by phone yesterday, the former public school teacher in Olathe, Kan., said she had to pull off her gardening gloves each time a neighbor interrupted her yardwork to ask about joining the bus she had chartered to go to the nation's capital.
"It's small and it's quiet here in Johnson County, but more and more people are becoming part of the group that doesn't agree with this war," said Cuddy, who was planning to load about 45 people onto the bus in a Home Depot parking lot this morning for the 20-hour ride to Washington.
But Cuddy was no novice, as revealed by diligent bloggers (not me) who found Cuddy had been a veteran protestor and activist for years. Nothing wrong with that, just let us know. Well, it took lots of haranguing and ridicule--blogstyle--but they finally published a correction. The correction itself was misleading, incorrectly limiting Cuddy's activism to some other recent protests. But the best part was in the online version, which accidentally left an editor's internal note:
A Sept. 23 Metro article about people coming to Washington for the Sept. 24 demonstration against the war in Iraq described ^ (don't want to say "incorrectly" in this case) Patrice Cuddy, 56, of Olathe, Kan., as a novice protester. Cuddy had participated in three other large rallies against the war, two in Washington and one in New York.
I do not believe the Post will ever surpass this achievement. A correction undermining the main premise of the story, which conceals the extent of the error, with a staff note emphasizing it was not incorrect.
That thing was online for months before someone fixed it. I preserved it--of course!