Monday, March 06, 2006

Gotta Love "Clarifications"

Today, I read something that eased all the concerns I had last week. From today's Best of the Web by James Taranto:
A Journalistic Breach
On Friday the Associated Press published this "clarification":
In a Wednesday story, The Associated Press reported that federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his Homeland Security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees in New Orleans, citing confidential video footage of an Aug. 28 briefing.

The Army Corps of Engineers considers a breach a hole developing in a levee rather than an overrun. The story should have made clear that Bush was warned about floodwaters overrunning the levees, rather than the levees breaking.

The day before Katrina, Bush was told there were grave concerns the levees could be overrun.

It wasn't until the next morning, as the storm made landfall, that Michael Brown, then head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Bush had asked about reports of breaches. Bush did not participate in that briefing.
Blogger Kevin Aylward reports that one of the bylines on the erroneous AP story belonged to Margaret Ebrahim, a former producer on "60 Minutes II," the program that aired the phony September 2004 story on President Bush's National Guard service.

The AP's clarification doesn't stop the Boston Globe's James Carroll from repeating the falsehood:
If George W. Bush were a character in a novel or a play, last week might have been the turning point in the narrative. He was shown on film being explicitly warned, just hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, that the levees in New Orleans were vulnerable. But everyone knows that after the levees broke, he denied having been warned that such a thing was possible. The broadcast of the film amounted to a terrible epiphany: The president seemed caught in a lie. Grave questions had already been raised about his administration's manipulations of the truth, especially in relation to the war in Iraq. Does the truth matter in America any more?
Apparently not if your name is James Carroll.
Here's a better question, though. Why didn't I hear of this sooner? Or, better put, shouldn't clarifications of major stories be given as important a space as the major stories? A story such as this was likely read by millions upon millions. How many saw the 'clarification'?

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