Saturday, October 05, 2013

Fighting the Spin Wars, One Imaginary Quote at a Time

The Republicans have been trying to mitigate the (political) shutdown damage by voting to fund the popular stuff and then blaming Democrats for not accepting their arbitrarily piecemeal approach. In pursuit of this strategy they've done everything from claiming Harry Reid hates children with cancer to staging a stunt with World War II veterans (which, sadly, wound up overshadowed by the innate boorishness of a Texas Teabot represenative).

And they're still trying. The current version is crystallized in a quote you've probably seen if you spend any time at Breitbart or or any message board populated by their readers:
“It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”
This is their smoking gun. This is the proof (in their minds) that the Obama administration is cynically using the shutdown to damage congressional Republicans. (As opposed to, I don't know, people blaming Republicans because they hate government and they're holding the government hostage and their demands are completely nuts.)

Funny thing: the source of this anonymous quote is a guy who, it turns out, has kind of a history with this sort of thing:
Pruden started with the Times shortly after its founding. He was originally hired on a probationary basis, founding editor and publisher James Whelan told the Washington Business Journal, because Pruden had run into ethical problems as a reporter.

According to Whelan, Pruden was fired in 1978 by the now-defunct National Observer, where he had worked for 14 years, under suspicion that he had "manufactured" quotes in his stories. (Pruden refused to comment on the reasons for his ouster, except to say it involved "a couple of stories I'd done.") [emphasis added]
Um...okay. So the sole source for the quote is a guy who has a history of making up quotes.

In all fairness, it's possible Pruden didn't just invent the quote. It's possible that some disgruntled park ranger just happened to say something so fantastically supportive of the right-wing narrative that Pruden, who just happened to be present at the time, featured it front and center in his column. Anything is possible.

That said, I think this "quote" has to be treated exactly like any "quote" appearing in anything written by Wes Pruden: video or it didn't happen.


aimai said...

Very nice catch, Tom!

Ten Bears said...

No picture, no fish.

No fear.

Tom Hilton said...

Thanks! And sorry about posting on top of wasn't there when I started writing this.

Victor said...

Thanks for the info.
I don't spend any time at (Never was) Breitbart or Clown Hall.
Life is way to short to spend time with morons, if you can avoid it.

aimai said...

The site must be kept moving. These are our only orders. No problem with the post over. It took me so long to write my posts that I can never tell when I'm going to hit post either.

Wendy said...

Hey guys, maybe you can answer my question. I was reading this WP article and noticed that the author was a reporter from Kaiser Health Network.

Is this another example of press release reporting or is it something else? Are these KHN reporters doing truly independent work (I say this even though I like the underlying message of the article) or is it more seeping corporatization of the media?

I guess what I'm asking is why WP would publish some other entity's news reporting instead of its own.

Examinator said...

Even if the quote is correct my thoughts would be.

What did the instruction ACTUALLY Say?

Did it say 'make things difficult or is that the individual's interpretation? Park service staff etc can be republicans too.
Where is the Copy in a bureaucracy like the park service etc. ALL OFFICIAL instructions are in writing! (whispers)

Who (position) was the originator?

But give the above comments this is the work of the ubiquitous "the urban somebody" or a fantasy.

Sadly (investigative and specialist) journalists are expensive. both electronic and print (News [Very]paper are using wire services and rewriting media releases.... cheaper. They get more bang for their buck with sensational opinionists.
The media is an advertising business NOT AN EDUCATIONAL OR an RELIABLE (objective) information source.
Odds on the staff journalist simply rewrote a KHN 'media release'

Examinator said...

It should have read News [very] Limited] Fox media incl)

Tom Hilton said...

Examinator: Yes, that's right: even if the quote is correct it doesn't constitute an admission by the NPS.

Wendy: KHN has actually been doing very good (informative, fact-based, unbiased) reporting on healthcare issues in general (especially the PPACA).