The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

WaPo ombud attacks paper's treatment of Moran roorback

I first came across the Rep James Moran (D:VA 8) when he was subject of a fishy-looking attack for some supposedly anti-semitic comments he made last year [1]. Moran has also been taxed with various allegations of financial irregularities, none of which, as I recall, came to anything.

All in all, his regular return to the Capitol every two years is something of a tribute (if that's the right word) to the power of incumbency in the House.

Now, I learn from Michael Getler's article on Sunday that Moran has just won his primary; but
On Friday, June 4, four days before the 8th District primary between Moran and political newcomer Andrew M. Rosenberg, the lead headline in Metro, with a reference from the front page, said: "Moran Accused of Biased Remark; Ex-Adviser Revives Anti-Semitism Issue."

The accuser was one Alan M. Secrest, who had parted company with Moran on May 25;
Secrest, The Post reported, "would not say what the remark was or explain why he would not say." The Post quoted Moran as calling this a "flat-out lie" and two other Moran advisers who were present said they heard angry words exchanged over money and polling but no such remark.

I'd have thought it hard to overstate the lack of credibility that such a statement as Secrest's would have in the eyes of the average impartial observer. But the Post repeated the allegations in two more stories.

Jo-Ann Armao, who Getler describes as
Metro's top editor,
cannot understand the fuss: Getler quotes her at considerable - I'd suggest deliberately excessive [2] - length, but, in summary, she says, We quoted the guy, and gave the reasons why no one should believe him: no harm, no foul.

Getler is not impressed with this logic, which comes straight from the seamier end of the British tabloid scene.

Of course, the case raises the same point as did Andrew Gilligan's report (Hutton Inquiry, etc): if a media outlet publishes an allegation by an individual, should it be taken as making the allegation itself?

At the time the Hutton Report came out, not a few whited sepulchres Stateside opined that of course Gilligan's repetition of a supposed allegation on Iraqi WMD should be treated as having been made by the BBC.

And here, one of the country's top papers taking the diametrically opposite view!

(Strangely, Spencer Hsu also was also writing pieces (as this one) on the 2003 attack on Moran - I suspect a history, but can't summon up the enthusiasm to investigate.)

  1. March 12, March 17 and March 21.

  2. The longer she rants, the thinner her excuses appear.

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