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.