2. Prominent NY Times Reporters More Error-Prone Than Plagiarist A New York Times reporter who resigned last week after it was noted that one of his stories closely matched a story in another newspaper, had a lower acknowledged error rate than do some very high-profile Times reporters, the Weekly Standard noticed. While the Times ran corrections to 6.9 percent of Jayson Blair's stories, the magazine calculated the percent of stories needing correcting for Adam Clymer at 9 percent and for R.W. Apple at an amazing 14 percent.
3. Today Promotes Cause of "Environmental Researcher" Brockovich The media-personal injury trial lawyer alliance. NBC's Today on Monday trumpeted the latest legal action brought by the law firm which employs notorious agitator Erin Brockovich, whom NBC identified with the very respectable description of "environmental researcher." Katie Couric hyped how some alumni of Beverly Hills High School in California, which has oil wells on campus, "say toxic fumes from the wells have given them cancer." Though a doctor undermined the premise, Couric was undeterred.
4. Dennis Miller Delivers Jibes at Clinton & Anti-War Protesters A fresh round of zingers on Tuesday's Tonight Show from Dennis Miller. Amongst Miller's cracks: "If Clinton had only attacked terrorism as much as he attacks George Bush we wouldn't be in this problem." Miller also offered praise for the performance of the U.S. military, mocking those still complaining about the war: "Hey, it couldn't have gone any better, okay. We were killing suicide bombers. You know how fast you're moving when a guy -- the only thing he wants to do in life is kill himself -- and you beat him to it?" Read those and more quips from Miller.
5. "Top 10...Excuses for Not Finding Weapons of Mass Destruction" Letterman's "Top Ten President Bush Excuses for Not Finding Weapons of Mass Destruction."
Party pooper. ABC's Peter Jennings on Tuesday night found time to relay the complaints from two liberal Democrats about President Bush's landing on an aircraft carrier last week, with Congressman Henry Waxman wanting to know the cost and former Klansman turned Senator Robert Byrd claiming it was an "affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the President to exploit the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech."
On the May 6 World News Tonight, Jennings intoned: "The President's visit to the Abraham Lincoln was, among other things, a powerful photo opportunity and two leading Democrats are now criticizing it. California Congressman Henry Waxman is asking government auditors to figure out how much the trip cost the taxpayers and West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd said on the Senate floor today it was an 'affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the President to exploit the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech.'"
Wednesday morning on NBC's Today, in one of a series of unchallenging questions to Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham, Katie Couric asked him whether he agreed with Byrd's attack.
A New York Times reporter who resigned last week after it was noticed that one of his stories with anecdotes about the family of a soldier closely matched a story in the San Antonio Express-News, had a lower acknowledged error rate than do some very high-profile Times reporters, the Weekly Standard observed.
While the Times ran 50 corrections in just under five years for Jayson Blair's 725 bylines, a 6.9 percent error correction rate, the magazine calculated the percent of stories needing correcting for Adam Clymer at 9 percent and for R.W. Apple at an amazing 14 percent, making him, the Weekly Standard quipped, "less than half as reliable a newsman as the hapless youngster Howell Raines is now banishing to Purdah."
The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, the Standard noted, had figured out the New York Times ran 50 corrections to Blair's stories. An excerpt from the item in the "Scrapbook" section of the May 12 Standard, which then observed:
Which is an interesting little statistic. We suspect our first reaction was the same as any disinterested scholar of American journalistic institutions: "Whoa! How many stories do you get to screw up at the Times and still keep your job?" Our second reaction was, let's fire up the Nexis database and find out.
Since Blair's name first appeared in the Times on June 9, 1998, he has had 725 total bylines there. His 50 corrections therefore constitute a 6.9 percent discovered-error rate. That's not so great. But it's not nearly so bad as the factual strikeout average posted, to take one random example, by Times Washington-bureau stalwart Adam Clymer over the exact same period: 400 bylines with 36 corrections (9.0 percent). Or how's about Times associate editor R.W. "Johnny" Apple Jr., whose 327 bylines with 46 corrections (14.1 percent spoiled copy) would seem to label him -- the numbers don't lie -- less than half as reliable a newsman as the hapless youngster [Executive Editor] Howell Raines is now banishing to Purdah.
At the risk of revealing embarrassing details of THE SCRAPBOOK's obsessions, we'll admit that we ran columnist Maureen Dowd's numbers so you can save yourself the trouble: a spectacular record of one correction in the last nine years (which this page certainly can't match). We'll leave to the cynics jokes about how you first have to deal in facts to make errors of the sort that need correcting.
END of Excerpt
That item is only accessible to Weekly Standard subscribers on their Web site: www.weeklystandard.com
For Kurtz's May 2 Washington Post story on the plagiarism: www.washingtonpost.com
Today's Times runs a sober editor's note on its Corrections page, revealing that a reporter accused of plagiarism has resigned:
"Jayson Blair, a reporter for The New York Times, resigned yesterday after the newspaper began an internal review of an article he wrote about the family of an American soldier then missing in action in Iraq and since confirmed dead. The article, published on Saturday and datelined Los Fresnos, Tex., incorporated passages from one published earlier by The San Antonio Express-News. The Times has been unable to determine what original reporting Mr. Blair did to produce it."
Today's Times includes a news story on the Blair controversy, while media reporter Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post reports "the paper has run 50 corrections on Blair's stories."
As Slate's "Today's Papers" columnist Sam Schechner notes: "[Their] quick-'n'-dirty Lexis-Nexis search turned up 689 pieces with Blair's byline." (Blair joined the paper in 1998.)
That's an average of one printed correction for every 14 stories that Blair wrote. Apparently, the editorial desk long overlooked the warning signs that not all Blair's work was "fit to print."
END of Excerpt
For the latest daily bias at the New York Times, check: www.timeswatch.org
The media-personal injury trial lawyer alliance. NBC's Today on Monday trumpeted the latest legal action brought by the law firm which employs notorious agitator Erin Brockovich, whom NBC identified with the very respectable description of "environmental researcher."
On the May 5 Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, Katie Couric hyped how some alumni of Beverly Hills High School in California, which has oil wells on campus, "say toxic fumes from the wells have given them cancer."
Relaying the claims of "environmental researcher" Brockovich, Couric treated her as simply a concerned woman: "Erin says what troubles her the most is the increasing number of cancers that have been reported to her law firm. So far 321 graduates over a 22-year period say they have cancer."
What percent of the alumni that represents, whether that is an unusually high cancer rate and whether there is any real evidence in any case of a link to the oil well, Couric did not pres Brockovich to explain. Couric did, however, allow as to how Brockovich's case may not be that solid: "Dr. Wendy Cozun has studied the cancer patterns of people living in the Beverly Hills area and found no increase in cancers except for one type of thyroid cancer. She says there is no link between the oil wells" and cancer.
So then why run a story promoting a baseless, fearmongering lawsuit? Couric didn't pursue that angle or confront Brockovich. Instead, she proceeded to explain how out of fear one parent has pulled his son off the baseball team.
Couric set up the taped segment: "California is the third- largest oil-producing state in the nation and in fact the elite Beverly Hills High School sits on an active oil well. Well now the school is in the center of a controversy. Environmental activist Erin Brockovich alleges the well has caused a cancer cluster. But government experts and the company running the well say it doesn't cause cancer or pollution. Today the law firm made famous by Brockovich is filing a 177 new claims against the city and school district of Beverly Hills adding to the 25 filed last week. They allege former students of Beverly Hills High got cancer from toxic
air created by the well.
The rest of the piece, sans the soundbites:
Couric: "Lori Moss, a 1992 graduate of Beverly Hills High School was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease when she was 21."
If oil wells cause cancer how do people in Oklahoma and Texas manage to survive?
A fresh round of zingers on Tuesday's Tonight Show from Dennis Miller, the actor/comedian who has honed a shtick around praising President Bush and mocking leftist anti-war protesters.
Amongst Miller's cracks on the May 6 Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC: "If Clinton had only attacked terrorism as much as he attacks George Bush we wouldn't be in this problem."
Miller also offered praise for the performance of the U.S. military, mocking those still complaining about the war: "Hey, it couldn't have gone any better, okay. We were killing suicide bombers. You know how fast you're moving when a guy -- the only thing he wants to do in life is kill himself -- and you beat him to it?"
-- On anti-Bush protesters and how well the war went: "What's so touching is the way we fight the war right until the moment our business is taken care of and then we turn on a dime and we immediately start taking care of people. It's like a shock and aw shucks campaign.
-- On anti-Bush Democrats: "The Democrats continue to snipe at Bush. They'll never give it up to him. You know Teddy Kennedy and Tom Daschle pick more nits than a father and son spider monkey team who know they're being followed by a National Geographic film crew."
-- Picking up on Bill Clinton's comments during his 60 Minutes segments with Bob Dole: "If Clinton had only attacked terrorism as much as he attacks George Bush we wouldn't be in this problem. You know something Bill, if you were any more low rent you'd be a Spring Break destination."
-- Including one U.S. city as a potential military target: "Once we take Damascus, simultaneously we bomb the reactor in North Korea, then you take Tehran, you take Saudi Arabia, you take Berkeley, California."
-- On whether finding weapons of mass destruction matters: "Liberals should not overplay this weapons of mass destruction card, because you want me to tell you the truth? Most of us are not going to care if they don't find these weapons of mass destruction. It's enough for a lot of us to see those kids smiling on that street again."
Recent CyberAlert items on Miller:
-- April 22 CyberAlert. When liberal author/professor Michael Eric Dyson complained on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday night about how President Bush went to war in a crusade of Christianity over Islam as evidenced by how Bush "bows his head to God and prays to God," actor/comedian Dennis Miller fired back with an anti-Clinton quip: "At least he's not bowing his head to watch..." See: www.mediaresearch.org
From the May 6 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten President Bush Excuses for Not Finding Weapons of Mass Destruction." Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com
10. "We've only looked through 99% of the country"
9. "We spent entire budget making those playing cards"
8. "Containers are labeled in some crazy language"
7. "They must have been stolen by some of them evil X-Men mutants"
6. "Did I say Iraq has weapons of mass destruction? I meant they have goats"
5. "How are we supposed to find weapons of mass destruction when we can't even find Cheney?"
4. "Still screwed up because of Daylight Savings Time"
3. "When you're trying to find something, it's always in the last place you look, am I right, people?"
2. "Let's face it -- I ain't exactly a genius"
1. "Geraldo took them"
Worth the wait to get to #1.
-- Brent Baker