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There was a mini-brouhaha

There was a mini-brouhaha <$NoAd$>this afternoon when a purported internal Fox News memo, which announced the suspension of Carl Cameron over the Kerry quotes, was revealed to be a hoax.

This is the actual memo that Fox Senior VP John Moody sent to Fox employees ...

PLEASE READ: Last week, we experienced separate lapses of judgment, resulting in the posting, on our website, of inaccurate material.

Credibility is our lifeblood. When we make factual mistakes, we affect adversely all the hard work that we've done for eight years to become the country's leading news channel.

There is enough blame to go around. In last week's incident, a stupid parody of a quote was included in the script queue. It was picked up unthinkingly and included on the website.

For that reason, we are implementing a number of changes: first, and immediately, the scripts queue is OFF LIMITS for editorial use until the item has been broadcast or the script is approved for use. Second, the use of scripts queue for humor, sarcasm, parody or other unprofessional conduct is strictly forbidden.

Failure to follow this directive is a dismissable offense.


Asked for a comment, Fox News spokesman Paul Schur told me, "This note speaks for itself."

And in case you're wondering, given recent events, a Fox News representative confirmed to me that this memo is authentic.

I think this memo leaves the key issue entirely unstated. But there you go.

Late Update: I see now from a link on Atrios that Media Bistro posted this same memo about a half hour before I posted mine. This just shows that you really shouldn't get that dinner before you finish a post you've been working on. In any case, this is independently reported.

If you go to

If you go to this graphic from this weekend's New York Times Week in Review, it shows a series of Kerry and Bush quotes from the debates and then text bubbles with humorous quips about what they were probably thinking when they made the given statement.

One of those from Kerry is this one: "And long before President Bush and I get a tax cut—and that‘s who gets it—long before we do, I‘m going to invest in homeland security and I‘m going to make sure we‘re not cutting cops programs in America and we‘re fully staffed in our firehouses and that we protect the nuclear and chemical plants."

The Times then suggested Kerry was thinking: "If I call officers 'cops' I sound like a regular guy."

Actually, though, if you look at the published transcript of the debate it says not 'cops' but 'COPS'. And that's because anyone who comes even remotely close to following public policy knows that COPS is an acronym for Community Oriented Policing Services program, passed under Clinton (i.e., hundred thousand new cops, etc.)

I'm assuming there'll soon be a little bubble over the Times writer's head saying: "If I spent more time learning about public policy and less time with Dowdesque thumb-nail cultural criticism maybe I wouldn't make such a fool of myself."

Special thanks to reader MJ for the catch.

According to Steve Clemons

According to Steve Clemons, at a speech over the weekend at the University of Central Arkansas, Michael Moore said that he had been offered the 'Killian memos' during his work on Fahrenheit 9/11, but passed on them, considering them unreliable.

Today in the Washington

Today in the Washington Post, GOP pollster Frank <$Ad$>Luntz talks to Howie Kurtz about getting canned by MSNBC after he'd already spent thirty grand putting together a debate night focus group to appear with their coverage.

In the piece he told Kurtz that "he's done no GOP work since 2001."

Is that really true?

An article in Roll Call from just this summer (June 22nd, 2004) discusses Luntz and his love-hate relationship with the House Republican Caucus. Specifically, it notes the regular briefings he gives to the caucus.

A few passages stand out ...

At the highest level, several leadership sources confirmed that Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and his office are not fans of Luntz or his work, while Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) has hired him in the past and is an eager customer for Luntz's research.

...

A senior Republican lawmaker had a more straightforward explanation for why Luntz's sessions are well-attended.

"It's free stuff," said the lawmaker, adding that the relationship was mutually beneficial because after seeing Luntz's presentations, "some [Members] become true believers and hire him, and some refer him" to other campaigns.

...

At last week's session, for example, Luntz started off by discussing homeland security and how Members should frame terrorism and security issues. He then screened some recent Kerry campaign ads and assessed their merits, as well as those of three different ads on the recently unveiled prescription drug discount card.

Attendees also received Luntz memos on three different topics: outsourcing, terrorism and tort reform.


Sounds like Luntz provides regular strategy briefings for Republicans and does it, not suprisingly, in part to troll for work.

Good as his word

Good as his word ...

"Nearly 100,000 fully trained <$NoAd$>and equipped Iraqi soldiers, police officers, and other security personnel are working today. And that total will rise to 125,000 by the end of this year. The Iraqi government is on track to build a force of over 200,000 security personnel by the end of next year. With the help of the American military, the training of the Iraqi army is almost halfway complete."

President George W. Bush News Conference with Prime Minister Allawi September 23rd, 2004

"There's 100,000 troops trained: police, guard, special units, border patrol. There's going to be 125,000 trained by the end of this year."

President George W. Bush Presidential Debate September 30th, 2004

And then this from Reuters, out today ...

But many of these assertions have met with scepticism from key lawmakers, congressional aides and experts, and Pentagon documents, given to lawmakers and obtained by Reuters, paint a more complicated picture.

The documents show that of the nearly 90,000 currently in the police force, only 8,169 have had the full eight-week academy training. Another 46,176 are listed as "untrained," and it will be July 2006 before the administration reaches its new goal of a 135,000-strong, fully trained police force.

Six Army battalions have had "initial training," while 57 National Guard battalions, 896 soldiers in each, are still being recruited or "awaiting equipment." Just eight Guard battalions have reached "initial (operating) capability," and the Pentagon acknowledged the Guard's performance has been "uneven."

Training has yet to begin for the 4,800-man civil intervention force, which will help counter a deadly insurgency. And none of the 18,000 border enforcement guards have received any centralised training to date, despite earlier claims they had, according to Democrats on the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.

They estimated that 22,700 Iraqi personnel have received enough basic training to make them "minimally effective at their tasks," in contrast to the 100,000 figure cited by Bush.


Has any reporter asked the president or his advisors about this? They really do seem to be just making this stuff up ...

Kerry pulls ahead.According to

Kerry pulls ahead.

According to the first post-debate poll, from Newsweek, John Kerry leads President Bush by a margin of 49% to 46%. Put Nader in the mix and Kerry's margin drops from 3 to 2.

Notably, on the front page of the MSNBC site, the headline reads "Kerry Boost: Poll shows Democrat even with Bush after Debate."

Statistically speaking it's probably fair to call that a tie or basically even. But given how much emphasis has been given to the polls with big Bush leads (Gallup, CBS, etc.) over those with narrow Bush leads (IBD, Fox, Zogby), it seems a funny way to headline the first poll to show Kerry in the lead in like a month.

Late Update: Sheesh! It's worse than I thought. The blurb on the Newsweek poll on the right side of the front page of the MSNBC website reads: "A solid majority of viewers surveyed say the challenger outperformed the president in their first face-off, and Bush's lead among registered voters has all but vanished."

All but vanished? My God. Yes, this is just one poll. Others may well differ. But the article is about the new Newsweek poll that shows Kerry beating Bush among registered voters. So doesn't that mean Bush's lead has all vanished, rather than "all but vanished."

I was never good at math. But isn't MSNBC a bit off on this one?

More good stuff from

More good stuff from Fox. Was Cameron in on this one too? Fox News took a Kerry-bashing Republican group called "Communists for Kerry" and interviewed a 'member' of the group as though it were an actual pro-Kerry group.

Sample quote: "Even though he, too, is a capitalist, he supports my socialist values more than President Bush ... The North Koreans are my comrades to a point, and I'm sure they support Comrade Kerry, too."

See Atrios for the details.

A few questions and

A few questions and points about Carl Cameron's Kerry-bashing fabrications on Fox, or A Guide for the Perplexed (media reporters) ...

1. How long did the fabricated quotes run on the Fox News website?

2. Fox News says Cameron has been 'reprimanded.' How? Are there any consequences? What happened to him? How was he reprimanded? Fox spokesman Paul Schur, who first spoke to TPM yesterday afternoon, told The Daily News "We're simply moving on from this, we have no further comment." And that doesn't inspire a lot of confidence that the 'reprimand' is anything more than a 'Carl, Don't post any more fabricated quotes on the website.' Meanwhile, Schur declined to tell the LA Times what if any discipline Cameron faced.

3. Just for the sake of discussion, can there be any question that Carl Cameron has contempt and disdain for John Kerry -- contempt and disdain that he has great difficulty keeping a lid on?

4. Shouldn't Cameron be taken off the Kerry campaign beat? Assume for the moment that Cameron's fabricated story wasn't supposed to run on the site. If Cameron sits around writing up phony news stories only for Fox News colleagues which portray Kerry as a swishy fool, can he really credibly cover the campaign as a straight news reporter? The answer is obvious, I think. Of course, he can't.

5. Fox says Cameron made an "error" because of "fatigue and bad judgment." What was the error? Making up the fabricated quotes? Sending a Kerry-bashing parody around to colleagues at Fox News? Posting it on the website as a news story?

6. Did Cameron post the material to the site himself, not realizing there was a problem? Or did a tech person or editor at the website get a hold of Cameron's fabrications and post it not realizing it was a fabrication?

7. How tired is Carl Cameron and will Fox News be requiring him to get more sleep?

8. Why did comments very similar to Cameron's fabrications come up again and again from Fox commentators on debate night?

9. If CNN's John King posted a story on the CNN website with fabricated quotes that had the president joking about funneling money to Halliburton or telling a crowd how only saps went to Vietnam, what would the fall-out or consequences be?

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