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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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Post's Leonard Downie lying about Abu Ghraib coverage?

I'm not sure whether a good lunch or natural arrogance explains Downie's boast - to J-students, already! - that
at their core, newspapers own the news.

My concern is more what something he supposedly said that was reported in indirect speech. He may well have been misreported. Or the context is lacking. Or something of the sort.

But, if one can take the words at face value, he was lying. Or, at least, uttering a falsehood where the facts were so well known as to raise a presumption of lying:
He cited torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, athletes on steroids, war crimes in Darfur, Sudan -- all stories told by journalists, and stories Americans never would have heard otherwise.

My recollection is that CBS News had the Abu Ghraib story; and only ran it when they knew Seymour Hersh also had the story.

In fact, the complaint against CBS at the time was that they had held back the story for two weeks at the request of the Pentagon!

Did CBS get the story from Hersh? I don't think so. From some newspaper? Possible but highly unlikely.

The CBS/two weeks farrago was big media news for days: did Downie forget?

And - did Downie think to get his speech factchecked by one of the Post journos? Or did he decide to wing it?

Just to give those students a taste of journalism in the real world...

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