Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Andrew Northrup catches Fred Hiatt making an inaccurate quotation in the Washington Post

I clicked the links. He's right. My *s.


On Iraq’s nuclear weapons program? The president’s statements “were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates.*

The actual report (pg. 15):

(U) Conclusion 1: Statements by the President, Vice-President, Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor regarding a possible nuclear weapons program were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates,* but did not convey the substantial disagreements that existed in the intelligence community.

Deleting the clause noting that, uhm Bush lied, without ellipses is sleazy but not clearly falsification of a matter of indisputable fact. Changing a comma to a period is a misquotation. Hiatt chose to feebly attempt to hide the fact that his quotation from the report was deceptive by falsifying the text of the report.

I think that replacing a comma with a period, when one is deleting part of a sentence is an effort to use plain fraud to hide the fact that the sentence was mangled.

Ellipses then period is sleazy but not a firing offence, a comma then end quote is sleazy but not a firing offence. Replacing a comma with a period is, in this context, like replacing a word with another word.

I think that, if the Washington Post wants people to assume that factual claims in the post are accurate, then they have to fire Hiatt.

I admire Northrup's work effort and, still more, his ability to maintain his sense of humor while reading Hiatt. Hell I admire his ability to actually read Hiatt. I haven't managed to do that in years.

update: Good commenters too.

Grace Nearing Says:
June 9, 2008 at 10:39 pm

I think Hans Blix (nonnative speaker of English, of course) had the most concise description of what was going on. In essence, where inspectors and intelligence analysts originally put questions marks, Bush and Cheney inserted exclamation points instead.

To this day, I haven’t heard a better or more succinct explanation.

See so it all makes sense and is all about punctuation. To defend people who removed question marks and inserted explamation points, Hiatt removed commas and inserted periods.

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