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Helllooooo? Is Anyone Home in There?


UPDATE:  Steno Deb could take some notes from David Shuster (in this clip on C&L).  Now that is reporting. 

This wins for most asanine thing I’ve read this morning. (And a big thank you to John at AmericaBlog for the heads up on this one.)

President Bush said Monday that he declassified sensitive prewar intelligence on Iraq back in 2003 to counter critics who claimed the administration had exaggerated the nuclear threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

"I wanted people to see the truth and thought it made sense for people to see the truth," Bush said during an appearance at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

"You’re not supposed to talk about classified information, and so I declassified the document," he said in a question-and-answer session after delivering a speech on Iraq. "I thought it was important for people to get a better sense for why I was saying what I was saying in my speeches. And I felt I could do so without jeopardizing ongoing intelligence matters, and so I did."

It was Bush’s first comment since more detail about the release of a prewar intelligence document surfaced last week in a court filing by U.S. prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Steno Deb Reichman of the AP repeated the White House CYA spin verbatim without one mention — not one — of the fact that the White House selectively leaked only those portions of the NIE which agreed with their public position.

The fact that there were huge portions of the NIE which disagreed with them — which fundamentally called the entire nuclear argument into question with big, fat, flashing neon warning sings which the Admnistration chose to ignore? Non-existent according to Steno Deb’s article.  (See here and here for more on the big, fat, flashing neon liar signs.)


Let me attempt to explain this in terms even Steno Deb will understand:

Say you have five dentists who are surveyed about patients who chew gum.  Just as a hypothetical, four of those five agree that chewing gum after a meal can help to prevent cavities and keep your breath fresher, and that gum chewing can even effectively attack the germs that really cause bad breath.  One of these dentists thinks that chewing gum is a waste of your time. 

Deb Reichman, reporting for the AP, reports that studies show that "chewing gum is a waste of your time" after interviewing Dentist #5. 

That’s not exactly complete reporting, now is it?  In fact, that’s just reporting Dentist #5’s spin — because dentist number five has clearly hired some PR outfit to put out his version of the story to get out in front of the report which has yet to be fully issued by the people who hired him and the other dentists to do the scientific study.  And Steno Deb bought it hook, line and sinker without even bothering to ask questions, look into the facts, or report the whole story about the study on the gum.  Special.

Meanwhile, the fact of the matter is that there were four other dentists who completely disagreed with Dentist #5.  In fact, the evidence that the other four dentists uncovered showed markedly different information from that put out by Dentist #5.  But you wouldn’t know that, would you, by just reading Steno Deb’s article?  All you know is the spin.

But it gets worse.  It turns out that Dentist #5 is the CEO of the company that commissioned the study.  That company wanted people not to chew gum, because they manufacture breath mints.  What Dentist #5 really wants to do is sell you breath mints — more than anything in the whole world — because he fervently believes that breath mints are necessary to fight the war against the terror of bad breath. 

And even though the bulk of the evidence points in a whole different direction — let’s call it the Osama bad breath germ, shall we?, which can be vanquished by the chewing of gum — Dentist #5 is pushing for breath mints anyway.  He doesn’t care about the fact that all the other evidence points away from what he wants to sell you — he just wants to sell you his product.  So he goes out on television, and radio, and in print media — and all his friends and co-workers do the same thing — and they talk about the importance of breath mints non-stop, but never, ever mention the fact that there is a mountain of evidence that says their theory on breath mints is wrong.

Meanwhile, the whole study that was done, showing that gum is actually more effective, stays buried.  Because as CEO, Dentist #5 controls when or if the information ever gets released to the public. 

Now, there is a lot more to the story, including the fact that Dentist #1 is a whistleblower and reveals to the public that the study actually showed evidence that was completely different, and Dentist #5 got even with him by only releasing his breath mint portion of the study for weeks without allowing the public to even see the mountain of evidence about the chewing gum position — but that is a story that Steno Deb clearly doesn’t want to hear or tell.

By repeating the WH spin verbatim, without even bothering to ask the real questions or inform herself of the facts — facts that have been widely reported all weekend, I might add — Steno Deb earns herself the Media Shill award of the day.

I don’t normally do this, but you can contact the AP here:

450 W. 33rd St.
New York, NY 10001

Main Number


Please let them know that you would appreciate it if they reported facts and not spin.  Be polite, please, but I think they deserve to know that we will not settle for reporting that only ensures their continued invites on the cocktail weenie circuit.  They can report facts — or stop calling themselves reporters.

Jane’s fantastic response to the Hiatt editorial has some excellent facts that you can use in your contact with the AP.  Remember, be polite — but please, let them know that we will not tolerate this half-assed reporting.  It’s simply unacceptable.

Oh, and one more thing, putting in a quote where the President says that he was trying to get the "truth" out, when what he was saying was demonstrably false according to the facts given to him by his own intelligence agencies, is simply doing the White House’s bidding.  Reporters should never, ever be shills for the Administration — unless they are on the WH payroll and say so up front.  Shame on you, Steno Deb.  And shame on your editors for allowing you to get away with this.  And shame on each and ever newspaper who re-prints your spin. 

I expect a retraction or a correction.  But I’m not going to hold my breath.

UPDATEReader Greg says that the responsibility for this piece of tripe likely falls on the head of Steno Deb’s Editor — let’s call him/her Karl’s Best Pal.  I don’t care who cut this piece together — the AP is ultimately responsible for what goes out under their name.  Which is why I gave you the AP contact information.  Please let the AP know that one-sided shill pieces are unacceptable — especially when they also happen to be factually inaccurate.  But be polite, please — you will be speaking with a person paid to answer phones or e-mails, and they don’t deserve a bunch of invective — just a short, sweet statement of why facts are important to the public — ALL the facts.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com