And still no correction

Evidently I’m not alone in lambasting the Argus for something it printed on the front of its local “news” section more than a week ago. Former U.S. Sen. Jim Abourezk has an op-ed column today pointing out what he perceives as additional inaccuracies in the newspaper’s blog entry on why the Iraq War was justified. But Abourezk doesn’t limit himself to the falsehood documented in my recent blog entry.

Like I did, Abourezk points out that the claim that Saddam kicked out the weapons inspectors in 1998 — the first reason the Argus gave for justifying the war in Iraq — is simply false. He also points out how three other statements in the blog entry (and I do not recall which, if any, showed up in the dead wood edition) were wrong or even outright false. I didn’t examine his additional points simply because the one I addressed was beyond dispute. After all, as I pointed out, the falsity of the canard about the weapons inspectors being kicked out in 1998 was established before the Iraq War even began. Nor does it take much of a fact-checking effort to find that out.

Abourezk also asks the Argus to publish a correction. But to my knowledge, there never has been a correction published in the paper, despite the fact the most demonstrably false statement appeared there. The errors in the piece have been brought to the attention of the writer and the editorial staff at least twice. So why is it evidently exempt from the paper’s statement of “newsroom ethics,” which say it will “correct errors promptly,” regardless of whether they appear in news items or editorials?

Is it that the misstatements first appeared in the blog and thereby somehow immunized from the paper’s ethical standards? Is it simply reluctance to admit a misstatement? Or is it that the so-called “liberal media” doesn’t want to acknowledge that it doesn’t fact check and simply continues to blithely pass along and endorse lies used to start the Iraq War?

In the end, the answer doesn’t really matter because we only have two choices: quit subscribing or accept whatever the Argus doles out. Unlike TV or radio, you can’t just turn the channel. But each week, I move closer and closer to the first option.

UPDATE: The Argus ran the following correction in its Jan. 19 edition: “In 1998, the United Nations removed its weapons inspectors from Iraq in advance of U.S.-led airstrikes and after Iraq stopped cooperating with inspections. This information was incorrect in an excerpt from a Voices blog entry in the Dec. 30 newspaper.”

Neither in what it gives, nor in what it does not give, nor in the mode of presentation, must the unclouded face of truth suffer wrong. Comment is free, but facts are sacred.

C.P. Scott, editorial, Manchester Guardian, May 5, 1921

2 comments to And still no correction

  • I’m wondering if the ARGUS ever ran a correction on the Gannett columnist who wrote a column printed more or less as news in a news section of the ARGUS prior to the Bush-Gore election contest. It reported just a few days prior to the election the “lies” of Al Gore.

    Only problem with the hack work was that it neglected to report any of the actual stories which indicated the “lies” were a work of Republican propagandists.

    We can get all the opinion we want or would ever need by the YOU as in Time Mag’s Person of the Year. We don’t really need propaganda masqueraded as news in our conventional news media and we don’t really need duplicates of the worst of blog posts presented as even opinion.

    I still buy the ARGUS, but the new format is still something that looks like it was patterned after the distribution of a manure spreader.

  • I’d like to point out something that I don’t expect will change your mind, but is an important distinction. The Voices section is not the local news section of the Argus Leader, as you suggest. It is a section containing opinion, columns and conversation and is labled as such. The blog post that was excerpted in the print edition is clearly opinion. It is Sheri’s opinion that the inspectors were kicked out. You differ with that assessment. I can understand that. But is it a correctable error of fact? That is less clear. I appreciate your points and your interest.
    Patrick Lalley
    Voices editor