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Monday, November 1, 2010
NewsBusters, WND Run With Murky Audiotape
Topic: NewsBusters

When Andrew Breitbart's websites posted audio they claimed were of reporters at a CBS affiliate in Alaska plotting to smear Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller, a good portion of the ConWeb was eager to report the claim -- and, in the process, downplay or ignore completely doubts about it.

Tom Blumer jumped on it in an Oct. 31 NewsBusters post declaring that the reporters were intent on "finding (creating?) an incident similar to one involving a Rand Paul campaigner and a protester in Kentucky 'so we can put out a twitter/facebook alert.'" This was immediately followed by Mark Finkelstein uncritically repeating Sarah Palin's "shocking allegations" regarding the audiotape, adding that "this could shake up the Alaska race--and CBS."

Meanwhile, over at WorldNetDaily, Aaron Klein wrote that "the journalists can be heard plotting to 'find' a 'child molester' among the politician's supporters."

But things are not as clear-cut as NewsBusters and WND portray them. The TV station has stated that "The Miller campaign's analysis of the recording is incorrect in many material ways" and that "The complete conversation was about what others might be able to do to cause disruption within the Miller campaign, not what KTVA could do." Even Fox News has reported that it "cannot verify" what Palin and Breitbart have said about the audio's contents. Politico's Ben Smith added, "The transcript does not, in fact, make it terribly clear what they're talking about."

Despite such significant doubts being raised, NewsBusters has not mentioned them as of this writing, continuing to portray Palin's and Breitbart's skewed interpretation as fact. WND's Klein did note part of the TV station's response, but immediately followed with an attack on it by a blogger -- a response courtesy WND typically does not extend to liberals regarding right-wing claims.

But why would WND and NewsBusters let the facts get in the way? There's an election coming!

UPDATE: Plus, there's Breitbart's shoddy track record of sloppy and dishonest "journalism." WND and NewsBusters didn't mention that, either.

UPDATE 2: A NewsBusters post by Kyle Drennen complained that CBS' "Early Show" didn't mention the story. Like his colleagues, Drennen didn't mention the doubts that have been raised about the audio.

And Accuracy in Media pounced on it as well. Unlike the rest of the ConWeb, Don Irvine does include a significant portion of the TV station's response as an update to his blog post, though he immediately and sneeringly dismisses it.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:16 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, November 1, 2010 2:18 PM EDT

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