DAYS OF EXCITEMENT AND SCANDAL: The Washington Post walks its banner back!

SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2017

Let them entertain you:
Two days ago, the claim was bruited across the top of the Washington Post's front page in an exciting banner headline.

Comey had sought a big increase in funds for the Russia probe! Four reporters lent their names to the "revelation."

The exciting news report started like this. Hard-copy triple headline included:
VIEBECK, O'KEEFE, SULLIVAN AND KANE (5/11/17): Comey sought more resources for Russia probe
REQUEST CAME DAYS BEFORE HIS FIRING
Justice Dept. denies reports as uproar grows

The furor over President Trump's abrupt firing of FBI Director James B. Comey grew Wednesday with the revelation that Comey had sought more resources for an investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government shortly before he was dismissed.

Republicans and Democrats alike expressed dismay Wednesday over Comey's firing the day before, which several said will frustrate bipartisan efforts to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and any possible ties between the Kremlin and Trump associates. Many Democrats called for a special prosecutor to take on the investigation, and a handful of Republicans said they were open to the idea.

For some, the news of the request provided further evidence that Trump's stated reason for firing Comey—that the director had botched the bureau's investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server—was untrue. The likelier and more troubling reason, critics said, was to quash the Russia investigation and the threat it poses to the Trump White House.

Although several Democrats confirmed that Comey had informed lawmakers of the request he made last week in a meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the Justice Department denied those reports.
Yay yay yay yay yay yay yay! Indubitably, the furor had grown. It was exciting stuff!

Despite that Justice Department denial, the exciting claim about that request was framed as a "revelation." Did we mention the fact that the claim appeared beneath a banner headline which stretched across page A1?

Did James B. Comey—Comey the God—really make some such request? Like you and almost everyone else, we have no way of knowing.

That said, the Post began to waffle on this claim in yesterday's editions. This morning, we'd have to say that the Washington Post has basically walked its claim back.

In standard fashion, the paper does so in paragraph 23 of a news report which appears inside the paper, atop page A5. If you read all the way to paragraph 23, you meet this semi-admission:
BARRETT, NAKASHIMA AND HORWITZ (5/13/17): While it had been reported that Comey’s firing came days after he asked Rosenstein for more resources for the Russia probe, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said that Comey did not make that request, and that the investigation had and continues to have all the personnel and resources it needs.
Say what? Readers, what do Barrett, Nakashima and Horwitz know today that Viebeck, O'Keefe, Sullivan and Kane didn't know on Thursday?

Please note who Barrett, Nakashima and Horwitz are citing as their source. They're citing "a person with direct knowledge of the matter."

Presumably, very few people have direct knowledge of what happened when Comey met with Rosenstein, if indeed they met at all. (Presumably, acting FBI kingpin Andrew McCabe would not be such a person.)

Very few people would have "direct knowledge" of what happened. Today's report cites one such person. He or she says that no such request was made. The report offers no reason for thinking that this assertion might be false.

Just this once, let's be clear. It doesn't hugely "matter" if the Post's exciting "revelation" was actually false. After twenty-five years of mugging and clowning, our national discourse had moved so deeply into the dumpster that we actually managed to elect Donald J. Trump to his current post.

His apparent mental disorders have been on wide display this week. As long as he remains in the Oval, few other things hugely matter, human existence-wise.

Still, Martin Luther is said to have said that we should plant our apple tree even if Donald J. Trump is destined to start a world war. In accord with that nostrum, we'll offer a few small thoughts about the workings of our mainstream press corps.

First, let's enjoy a good laugh! In today's report, Barrett, Nakashima and Horwitz say "it [was] reported that Comey’s firing came days after he asked Rosenstein for more resources."

It was reported! It slipped their minds to say that this "was reported" in a banner headline which stretched across the front page of their own newspaper!

To say that this happened on Thursday morning! Which was just two day ago!

It was reported, the scriveners said! Truly, it doesn't get richer. Noting again that it doesn't matter whether Comey asked for more resources, let's compare the sourcing for today's report to the sourcing which drove the exciting report which dominated Thursday's Post.

Today, the reporters source a debunking statement to a person "with direct knowledge." By traditional norms, this is weak sourcing. To state one possibility, a single source with direct knowledge of some situation could be lying about what occurred.

The scribes don't seem to think that's the case. They cite no one who is disputing what this knowledgeable person has said. They report his or her claim and they leave it at that. No one says he or she's wrong.

Today, we hear from a person with direct knowledge. By way of contrast, what sort of sourcing lay behind Thursday's exciting reports, which topped the front page at the New York Times and at the Washington Post?

In Thursday morning's New York Times, two reporters described a game of Telephone. (They also referred to a "toilet bowl-shaped building" in the Washington suburbs.)

In their deathless evidence chain, Comey was said to have said something to Warner and Burr. After that, Warner was said to have told Durbin what Comey had said. Durbin then gave a third-hand account of what Comey said he did to the Times reporters.

At the very start of its report, the Times also cited "four congressional officials," none of whom could have had direct knowledge of the matter at hand. Readers were never told why they should credit these four unnamed people at all.

On its face, that looked like "group urinal sourcing." The Post offered less extensive but similar sourcing on Thursday. To examine their game of Telephone, you can just click here.

As we read these reports on Thursday morning, we thought their sourcing was weak. We especially thought this because the chain of claims about what happened began with a statement by Comey the God, a person we don't exactly regard as beyond reproach at this point.

(Comey's most recent jumbled, inaccurate public statement occurred just last week at a Senate hearing. Whatever his intentions may be, he seems to misstate fairly often.)

At any rate, let's review. As we do, we're simply planting an apple tree, remembering that none of this actually "matters," given the fact that a highly unstable person now holds the nuclear codes.

Reviewing:

On Thursday morning, a game of Telephone yielded a thrilling new claim. At the Washington Post, the claim was called a "revelation." It was bruited across the top of the paper's front page in a banner headline.

This very morning, just two days later, the Post seems to say "never mind." The paper cites a person with direct knowledge saying that Thursday's report was wrong.

Here's where the wonderful clownistry happens. This semi-retraction appears in a news report on page A5. You have to read to paragraph 23 to learn what that knowledgeable person said.

You're told the original claim "was reported," but you aren't told where!

As noted, none of this exactly matters. More in amusement than in anger, we continue to plant the occasional small award-winning apple tree.

27 comments:

  1. I'm unclear what Bob means by, "none of this exactly matters". This false story supports the myth that the timing of Comey's firing was suspicious. It contributes to the widespread belief that Trump did something terrible by firing Comey. That firing Comey was like Nixon firing the Watergate prosecutor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not a myth David. Trump himself admitted that he fired Comey because he wouldn't stop the Russia investigation, which Trump considers to be fake. The terrible thing Trump did was to obstruct justice by firing the head of the investigation into his campaign's possible malfeasance.

      But I agree that this does matter. It matters that the person who Comey spoke with about more resources was the guy asks by Trump to write a letter justifying Comey's firing -- and he did it, then didn't want to take the blame for the action and tried to evade responsibility for his own letter. That is not exactly the kind of backbone needed to pursue this investigation vigorously. That same guy is highly likely to be the "person with direct knowledge" who denied that any request for resources was made by Comey. Unsurprising, given his previously demonstrated willingness to dance like a puppet for Trump.

      Trump is just as paranoid as Nixon but much less intelligent and quite a bit crazier. Trump won't benefit from such comparisons.

      My hope is that none of this reporting matters because the investigation will go on unimpeded, now that the FBI is more motivated than ever due to Trump's ham-handed interference, to get to the bottom of things. Presumably there will be many banner headlines with Trump's name coupled with other negative adjectives.

      Delete
    2. Comrade Dinky, even Nixon didn't have the balls to fire the director of the FBI. But the pussygrabber pervert lying bastard traitor tRump you voted for is so fucking shameless he did it and you don't blink an eye. He fired the fucking Director of the FBI leading an investigation into his own campaign you idiot. Why did he do it?

      Let's ask the pussygrabber pervert himself shall we.

      He's a showboat, he's a grandstander....Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey....And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, "You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should've won."

      Delete
    3. I agree with David, this story does matter; however, David seems desperate to have others believe the story is false, while also apparently misunderstanding Bob's post - which is a criticism of weak sourcing, not a claim that the story is false.

      The story is most likely true. For it to be false either Senator Warner would have to be misrepresenting what he was told by Comey, or Comey is lying about what he asked from Rosenstein. Notably Rosenstein has not denied the story.

      The only on record refutation of the story has come from two DOJ/Jeff Sessions spokespeople, notably Sarah Isgur Flores, who already had a bad track record with the truth, defending Sessions bizarre senate confirmation testimony that eventually led to Sessions having to recuse himself from the Trump-Russian collusion investigation.

      Interestingly Sarah Isgur Flores changed her story mid-denial. In her initial denial she claimed that Comey had not requested more funding, but indeed Comey had not made that claim, and after pushback over her first denial she revised it to deny Comey had requested more resources. She references her denials to a May 1 meeting Comey had with Rosenstein; however, this may not even be the meeting to which Comey is referring.

      Supportive of Comey's claim is that in fact he did receive more resources. The DOJ recently, per Comey's request, did assign more prosecutors to the investigation. Senator Durbin's assertion does seem borne out by the facts. Republican extremists try to use McCabe's testimony that the FBI has all the resources it needs for the investigation; however, that in no way contradicts the story because McCabe was only speaking about FBI resources, Comey was requesting more resources from the DOJ side, explained here in the NYTimes:

      "At the meeting with the senators, Mr. Comey said he had made the request because he believed the Justice Department had not dedicated enough resources to the investigation, a fact partly stemming from the unusual situation under which the inquiry was being run. Until two weeks ago, when Mr. Rosenstein took over as deputy attorney general, the investigation was being overseen by Dana Boente, who was acting as the deputy and had limited power."

      The Trump spokespeople seem to have a pattern of being less than truthful. Comically Spicer said this in response to Trumps tweet threatening Comey with "tapes":

      "that’s not a threat. He simply stated a fact."

      Here is Trump's deplorable tweet:

      "James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

      President Trump doing a pretty good imitation of a first grader saying Comey "better hope" he doesn't cause Trump trouble "before" Trump does some action against Comey. Sorry Spicer, that is not simply stating "a fact", and it clearly IS a threat.

      Delete
  2. The takeaway message from today's post is that Somerby doesn't know who to believe about anything any more. He won't believe Comey over "a person with direct knowledge" even though Comey is putting his name to his statement and has clarified that he was requesting that the AG devote its own prosecution resources, not give him more money or staff.

    Somerby doesn't know who to believe but he blames the Washington Post for printing (we don't know what they believe) a sourced statement that was later denied by a poorly sourced one. Never mind that this is an administration that denies even demonstrated facts when they become inconvenient. Even people "with direct knowledge" have been denying things lately.

    There is a bit of CYA in reporting the possibility of a denial. The lack of strong sourcing is no doubt why this is a "semi-retraction".

    And these papers are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Just a few days back, Somerby was complaining because A2 & A3 were being used for trivia. Now he complains because a fairly important statement was given a headline, then denied by a "person with direct knowledge", just as this administration denies lots of stuff it considers embarrassing or negative. If the paper buried the original statement, they would be wrong then too. They make these judgments under shifting conditions of uncertainty.

    Somerby gets to mock them from the security of his home, where presumably no one denies anything and things are well known and never murky. Lucky him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. my name is Mark Godwin am here to share testimony of how i got back my relationship that was scattered for months. we got married for more than 7 years and have gotten three kids. things were going well with us and we are always happy. until one day my wife started behaving in a way i could not understand, i was very confused by the way she treat me and the kids. for months she did not come home again and she called me for a divorce, i asked her what have i done wrong to deserve this from her, all she was saying is that she want a divorce that she hate me and do not want to see me again in her life, i was mad and also frustrated and do not know what to do,i was sick for more than 3 weeks i want to be reunited back with my husband in 2016 blog of her intention towards me. i love my wife so much and can do anything for her. i told my brother and he told me to contact a spell caster, i never believe in all this spell casting of a thing. i just want to try if something will come out of it. i contacted DR Alexzander through his website, for the return of my wife to me, he told me that my wife have been taken by another man, that he cast a spell on her that was why she hate me and also want us to divorce. then they told me that they have to cast a spell on her that will make her return to me and the kids, Dr alexzander cast the spell and after 1 week my wife called me and she told me that i should forgive her, she apologizes on phone and said that she did not know what happened to her. it was the spell that DR Alexzander cast on her that made her return back to me today,me and my family are now happy again. thank you Dr Alexzander for what you have done for me i would have been nothing today if not for HIS great spell. i want all my friends who are passing through all this kind of love problem of getting back their husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend to contact {alexzanderhightemple@gmail.com or through his website http://alexzanderhightemple-com.webs.com} if you need a supernatural great wizard to cast a spell for you. email Dr alexzander and you will see that your problem will be solved without any delay.These are the few things he also do for people. *do you need rapid and undeserved promotions in your offices or work? Dr alexzander can bring back lost lovers on 96hrs and can cast all kind of spell. Dr alexzander is a healer that is here on earth to solve your problems just as he did to mine.this is your chance to be helped quickly by Dr alexzander.his an expert in distance healing, court cases even if one is convicted. he can do all manner of spell that you may need in life.he can also make you conceive a child and win money through gambling and other things you may desire to have in life. contact him and be the next to share his good work to the world. alexzanderhightemple@gmail.com or http://alexzanderhightemple-com.webs.com

      Delete
  3. An excerpt from my memoirs ...

    "... and it was at this very time that a strange and peculiar butt wind was hereby produced, sending my wondering mind into such a deep state trance that I couldn't help but maintain my sanity for more than two or three anton moments.

    A vast visual landscape came to being in my subconscious once more, causing my woman friend to proclaim the existence of a certain nausea due to the present odorous environment.

    As usual, I always defer to her superiority in such matters, being that she is such the dominant woman.

    It was her theory that the aforementioned butt wind was, by necessity, the preconceived end result of a sequence of events set into motion eons ago by the 15th Overlord of the Sectarian sub-states in Bjark Orlendundren.

    I supported her reasoning and suggested we then proceed to investigate upon our arrival via the subsequent warp-journey to this distant time and place...."

    To be continued...

    ReplyDelete
  4. In James Joyce's Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus tells us, "History is the nightmare from which I am trying to awaken." I would turn this around and say that history is what we are trying to escape from into dream. The dream is eschatological. The dream is zero time and outside of history. We wish to escape into the dream. Escape is a key thing charged against those who would experiment with plant ad hominem with rancor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People who are not mentally ill do not have the luxury of escaping. Stop threatening people here with violence. Stop using other people's nyms. You are tolerated only if you are civil. No one here is impressed that you read a thick book.

      Delete
    2. I'll kick you in the lip boy. Meet me tonight.

      Delete
    3. "I'll kick you in the lip boy. Meet me tonight."

      Are these lyrics in a Pat Benetar song?

      Delete
  5. A bunch of former federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York call for a special counsel. They also vouch for Comey the God, worshipped by them under his most august title, "Jim".

    ReplyDelete
  6. I like to lick myself at night sometimes. Where possible.

    ReplyDelete
  7. How does a man who has gone bankrupt four times still have a jet and a tower in New York with his name one them? Why isn't he broke and living in a trailer home? Because he is as smart as he says he is. He always has a plan. Whatever you think you have on Trump he is two steps ahead of you. He is going to look good and you are going to left holding the bag.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When Trump "goes broke," his investors lose money but Trump walks away with a bundle. That doesn't make him smart, it makes him crooked. He is mobbed up and his ties with Russian oligarchs, to help them launder money, make any financial dealings suspect.

      Trump's tragedy is that he has never "looked good" to anyone with serious accomplishments. He knows that and his life has been an attempt to gain acceptance and recognition from respectable people (not folks like Howard Stern) but they have avoided him. So he keeps chasing quality while never understanding that it isn't about money or notoriety.

      If Trump looks good to you, you need to question your values. His wife won't live with him, he gets no respect from anyone despite being president, he has orange hair for God's sake. He might as well be living in a trailer home for all his efforts have gotten him. He doesn't understand that buying an escort isn't the same as finding love and companionship with another person, and he treats everyone like bought and sold escorts, who he can fire when he gets tired of them. Sad. Sick. Empty.

      Delete
    2. When do you suppose he last saw or spoke with his 10-year old son? He goes to a golf resort every weekend, instead of going home.

      Delete
    3. jdmeth,
      Nice defense of Bill Clinton, without mentioning his name.

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. An excerpt from my memoirs ...

      "... and it was at this very time that a strange and peculiar butt wind was hereby produced, sending my wondering mind into such a deep state trance that I couldn't help but maintain my sanity for more than two or three anton moments.

      A vast visual landscape came to being in my subconscious once more, causing my woman friend to proclaim the existence of a certain nausea due to the present odorous environment.

      As usual, I always defer to her superiority in such matters, being that she is such the dominant woman.

      It was her theory that the aforementioned butt wind was, by necessity, the preconceived end result of a sequence of events set into motion eons ago by the 15th Overlord of the Sectarian sub-states in Bjark Orlendundren.

      I supported her reasoning and suggested we then proceed to investigate upon our arrival via the subsequent warp-journey to this distant time and place...."

      To be continued...

      Delete
  9. Are you going through a break-up or divorce?
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    you can also call him or add him on whats-app: +2348138654465
    http://goodluck05spellcaster.yolasite.com...

    ReplyDelete
  10. An excerpt from my memoirs ...

    "... and it was at this very time that a strange and peculiar butt wind was hereby produced, sending my wondering mind into such a deep state trance that I couldn't help but maintain my sanity for more than two or three anton moments.

    A vast visual landscape came to being in my subconscious once more, causing my woman friend to proclaim the existence of a certain nausea due to the present odorous environment.

    As usual, I always defer to her superiority in such matters, being that she is such the dominant woman.

    It was her theory that the aforementioned butt wind was, by necessity, the preconceived end result of a sequence of events set into motion eons ago by the 15th Overlord of the Sectarian sub-states in Bjark Orlendundren.

    I supported her reasoning and suggested we then proceed to investigate upon our arrival via the subsequent warp-journey to this distant time and place...."

    To be continued...

    ReplyDelete
  11. my name is Mark Godwin am here to share testimony of how i got back my relationship that was scattered for months. we got married for more than 7 years and have gotten three kids. things were going well with us and we are always happy. until one day my wife started behaving in a way i could not understand, i was very confused by the way she treat me and the kids. for months she did not come home again and she called me for a divorce, i asked her what have i done wrong to deserve this from her, all she was saying is that she want a divorce that she hate me and do not want to see me again in her life, i was mad and also frustrated and do not know what to do,i was sick for more than 3 weeks i want to be reunited back with my husband in 2016 blog of her intention towards me. i love my wife so much and can do anything for her. i told my brother and he told me to contact a spell caster, i never believe in all this spell casting of a thing. i just want to try if something will come out of it. i contacted DR Alexzander through his website, for the return of my wife to me, he told me that my wife have been taken by another man, that he cast a spell on her that was why she hate me and also want us to divorce. then they told me that they have to cast a spell on her that will make her return to me and the kids, Dr alexzander cast the spell and after 1 week my wife called me and she told me that i should forgive her, she apologizes on phone and said that she did not know what happened to her. it was the spell that DR Alexzander cast on her that made her return back to me today,me and my family are now happy again. thank you Dr Alexzander for what you have done for me i would have been nothing today if not for HIS great spell. i want all my friends who are passing through all this kind of love problem of getting back their husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend to contact {alexzanderhightemple@gmail.com or through his website http://alexzanderhightemple-com.webs.com} if you need a supernatural great wizard to cast a spell for you. email Dr alexzander and you will see that your problem will be solved without any delay.These are the few things he also do for people. *do you need rapid and undeserved promotions in your offices or work? Dr alexzander can bring back lost lovers on 96hrs and can cast all kind of spell. Dr alexzander is a healer that is here on earth to solve your problems just as he did to mine.this is your chance to be helped quickly by Dr alexzander.his an expert in distance healing, court cases even if one is convicted. he can do all manner of spell that you may need in life.he can also make you conceive a child and win money through gambling and other things you may desire to have in life. contact him and be the next to share his good work to the world. alexzanderhightemple@gmail.com or http://alexzanderhightemple-com.webs.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. Are you going through a break-up or divorce?
    Do you need your Ex back fast? Dnot cry anymore, contact Dr .Goodluck for powerful Love spell that work fast now!! I was hurt and heart broken when my Husband breakup with me, and i could not know what next to do again, I love my Husband so much but he was cheating on me with another woman and this makes him break up with me so that he can be able to get marred to the other lady and this lady i think use witchcraft on my Husband to make him hate me and our kids and this was so critical and uncalled-for,I cry all day and night for God to send me a helper to get back my man until i went to Texas in USA to see a friend and who was having the same problem with me but she latter got her husband back and i asked her how she was able to get her husband back and she told me that their was a powerful spell caster called Dr .Goodluck that help with love spell in getting back lost lover back, and i decided to contact the same Dr .Goodluck and he told me what is needed to be done for me to have my man back and i did it although i doubted it but i did it and the Dr told me that i will get the result after 17hours, and he told me that my husband was going to call me and i still doubted his word, to my surprise my husband really called me and told me that he miss me so much, Oh My God! i was so excited, and today i am happy with my man again and we are joyfully living together as one big family and i thank the powerful spell caster Dr .Goodluck for bringing back my man and i decided to share my story on the internet that Dr .Goodluck is best spell caster online who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, If you have any problem contact Dr .Goodluck and i guarantee you that he will help you,Email him at: goodluck05spellcaster@gmail.com ,you can also call him or add him on whats-app: +2348138654465
    http://goodluck05spellcaster.yolasite.com

    ReplyDelete