Friday, November 04, 2005

Another edit

Paul Reynolds has added another edit to his column. In the portion that originally read:
Nor did he report any evidence that Iraq had approached Niger for a sale.
...It now reads:
Nor did he report any clear evidence that Iraq had approached Niger for a sale. [emphasis added].
This was added, I am led to understand, in order to account for the speculative nature of ex-Prime Minister Mayaki's claims to Wilson about Iraq's approach to him in 1999. By adding the word "clear", apparently Reynolds thinks that the sentence is more accurate and that it justifies his failure to mention the fact that Wilson's report to the CIA actually tended to support, rather than refute, the president's claim. Two problems.

First, I never said that the first version of the sentence was inaccurate at all. I simply said its inclusion was disingenuous. In the context of the surrounding text, the "report" to which Reynolds refers seems to be Wilson's NYT article. In that article Wilson made no reference whatsoever to the claim that Iraq had approached Niger. So, in fact Reynolds' new edit has actually made the sentence less accurate, as it implies that Wilson might have made mention of "unclear" evidence, when he didn't. Like I said, the subject of whether Niger had been approached by Iraq never came up in his article. So, even in its new form, the sentence remains disingenuous in precisely the same way as before.

However, it is possible, I suppose, that Reynolds is equivocating in his use of the word "report", and he actually means Wilson's report to the CIA, not his NYT article. If that is the case, then it is true that his sentence is now technically more accurate (indeed, it means the first version was simply false,) but it is no less misleading. By characterizing Wilson's CIA report in this weird way (is intelligence information only relevant if it is “clear evidence”?), Reynolds seems to be going out of his way to lead the reader to believe that the report tends to substantiate Wilson's accusations, even though we know that it absolutely does not, as the Senate intelligence report revealed.

In any event, all of this parsing of sentences is tedious and, ultimately, mostly beside the point. My real problem with Reynolds' article is that he fails to present all the relevant facts which would allow his readers to draw reasonable conclusions and judgments for themselves about the larger story. The parsing simply demonstrates how he has failed. He framed the Libby indictment within a false story line - Joe Wilson, whose honesty and motives we are given no reason to question, blew the whistle on the White House, and the White House's reaction to the honest whistleblower has got it into trouble - and then his audience was enticed to accept it as reasonable. Originally that was due mostly to factual errors. All that has happened since is that he has made a Herculean effort to correct the factual errors, while maintaining the original story line. For all his corrections and clarifications, however, the narrative remains a false one.

FYI, and to be fair, Reynolds has this to say about my claim that he has withheld relevant information:

I am not witholding anything. The narrative in my story however is limited to the outlines of the Wilson visit.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Lee Moore said...

We seem to be in full agreement about the "clear" insertion (although I prefer the reading you characterise as "However, it is possible, I suppose...")

Anyway, even if Paul Reynolds is limiting his current story to "the outlines of the Wilson visit", it's inconceivable that this will be his last story on the Libby/Wilson/Plame/Fitzgerald shenanigans. And we already know that he doesn't think he's stepping too far from news into comment, to use expressions like "strangely enough" to characterise the British government's beliefs. So he'll have every opportunity later on to balance things up by making reference to the fact that notwithstanding the glaring contradictions in his story, "strangely enough" Wilson is often treated as a credible and unbiased witness.

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another comment of Wilson's report to the CIA -

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4402594.stm

Prior to Mr Bush's address, the CIA had sent former ambassador Joseph Wilson to investigate the Iraq-Niger link and he reported that no such attempt to buy uranium - which can be used to make nuclear weapons - was likely to have taken place.

1:58 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

>So, in fact Wilson's new edit has actually made the sentence less accurate,

Um - Reynold's new edit, surely?

8:10 AM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...

chris,

Whoops. Fixed.

SC

8:15 AM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...

Anon,

Yes, I noted that article as well. I pointed it out to Paul, and I also filed an official complaint with the BBC regarding it. No word back yet on it.

SC

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The BBC archives have a statement by Tenet following the Wilson NYT op-ed

The same former official (Wilson) also said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him and insisted that the former official meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Iraq and Niger.

The former official interpreted the overture as an attempt to discuss uranium sales.



http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3060633.stm


via Powerline

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/012154.php

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but to correct the above post, I inserted the name "Wilson", but the former official was from Niger who had reported these facts to Wilson.

(Sometimes the BBC do put the record straight.
PM Blair appeared on BBC1 football programme this lunchtime. For years he has been mocked for claiming to have attended a match to watch a footballer who actually played when Blair was very young.
BBC replayed the inteview that produced this plastic turkey moment & it made clear that Blair had never claimed to have attended the football ground to watch the player. Blair had only named the player as being a boyhood hero.)

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only PROVEN liar in the whole ffir is not Bush, not the neocons bt Joselh Wilson.

And Paul Reynolds knew this damn well before he wrote his article. ANYONE who anlyses the US scene properly knows this.

Reynolds comes out looking like just another anti-Bush scribe, peddling the DNC propaganda, pretending to be neutral but actually misleading the BBC readers by ignoring the Wilson lies.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110007495

3:17 AM  
Anonymous england said...

"BBC replayed the inteview that produced this plastic turkey moment & it made clear that Blair had never claimed to have attended the football ground to watch the player."

And the BBC aren't technically capable of altering the video? With the Licence Fee a hot topic?

"As for "stealth" editing, one cannot litter the page with corrections and amendments. It is up to you guys to save and compare then and now and make your own comments."
Paul Reynolds

Anyone got an original copy?

7:54 PM  
Anonymous england said...

Credibility is like virginity.
You can only lose it once.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More on the CIA's and Wilson's anti-Bush scam :

http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/56927.htm

Paul Reynolds will ignore this too.

3:02 PM  

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