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Never Mind

In my column at Townhall today, I take a look at how the media deals with (or doesn't deal with) corrections to major stories.

I watched entirely too much television as a child. I was a big fan of Saturday Night Live and loved the Emily Litella character. For those unfamiliar with Litella, she was played by Gilda Radner and was a little old lady who did commentary on the SNL Weekend Update segment. She was hard of hearing and was constantly confusing words. She would rant on and on, slapping the desk all the while, about one outrage or another until Chevy Chase explained to her that, for example, the report she heard was about bussing schoolchildren, not busting them. She would pause a moment, smile a sweet little smile, look into the camera and say, "Never mind."

There have been quite a few "never mind" media opportunites during the Bush years. They range in significance from such incorrect stories as that of the plastic Thanksgiving turkey in Baghdad, to stories such as those of widespread rape and murder in the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina. Michelle Malkin once used a reference to Emily Litella when writing about the "Gitmo Koran flushing" story. Few of the "never minds" have gotten the prominent play that the original inaccurate reports received though. More distressing is that many of them have passed unrealized at all. Instead of even a "never mind," too often we have gotten dumb silence.

So how does the media set a story straight, after it has peddled an alternate reality version for months or even years? Does it even attempt to do it?

Update: The Washington Post has the same take. Yes, the Washington Post.

The Anchoress has lots more to say on this subject too.

Update II: Laura Lee Donoho has more.

Update III: Granddaddy Longlegs has an excellent post with lots of info and lots of links, including pictures of some photoshopping that makes those on the left look pretty silly right now.

Update IV: I love this comment from a Wizbang reader:

Someone please tell me where all the democrats are calling for Armitage to be hauled off to jail in handcuffs and distribute his perp shot pictures.

We heard for the last 3 years how serious this matter was and here we have the person who admits he is the one who did it and you hear birds chirping from Kennedy, Biden, Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, Byrd, etc etc etc.

Do you mean to tell me that these great unbiased reporters cant get one of these folks on the record to comment on these revelations. The story was front page news on and off for 3 years and you still have democrats on this board trying to hang Rove and Bush for this but what about the guy who ADMITS HE DID IT?

Not a peep.

Others blogging:

Hang Right Politics
Republicanpundit
Old War Dogs
Captain Ed
Texas Rainmaker
Ace of Spades


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Comments (10)

Why do you think they call ... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

Why do you think they call it moveon.org?

Well, the WashPost just tri... (Below threshold)
jim:

Well, the WashPost just tried a low key, "Who? Us? Nu-uh! It wasn't us, well not realllly," here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/31/AR2006083101460_pf.html

Great timing Lorie. You de... (Below threshold)
David L:

Great timing Lorie. You describe the Emily Litella processs the same day as the Washington Post does it. BZ.

Who us, nah it was the guy ... (Below threshold)
jainphx:

Who us, nah it was the guy behind the curtain. Some people actually believe that the MSM didn't know the truth.They knew but bringing down Bush was more important than the truth.It makes you wonder what else they lied about.

Are trackbacks broken? I w... (Below threshold)
chad:

Are trackbacks broken? I was trying to link to this piece and got this response:

Pinging http://wizbangblog.com/cgi-bin/trackit.cgi/15088...
Problem: Target doesn't appear to be a valid trackback URL

Sounds like you need to get... (Below threshold)
2klb_o_fun:

Sounds like you need to get Brent Bozell to add an "Emily Litella" category to his annual media awards. . .

heh- Funny you mentuion tha... (Below threshold)
Paul:

heh- Funny you mentuion that, I think of those skits and the media at least once per week.

I didn't remember the name (Emily Litella) but I remember the skits and you're right... it SOOOO applies to the media in the last few years.

The Emily Litella category ... (Below threshold)

The Emily Litella category should be added and would be very appropriate.

It's amazing that so many in the media are mere caricatures today. They give gravitas to Emily Litella.

Related:<a href="htt... (Below threshold)
Just be grateful if the med... (Below threshold)

Just be grateful if the media acknowledges their errors, even if it is page A-14 or a short mention between items on a cat that dialed 9-1-1 and the Japanese Fat Baby Contest.

Think of how many media outlets never do admit they got something wrong.

Besides, the fact that the story was incorrect is never as interesting as the false story was in the first place. "Sure, so maybe Tom and Katie did NOT give birth to the Alien Bat-boy, but we had it on a VERY reliable source . . . "

;-)




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