Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Metro journalists

There's been a bit of diablog about Fox News (briefly) posting a Kerry story with a bunch of joke quotes on their website. Joshua Micah Marshall of TPM thinks that this compares to CBS using phony memos on a story about Bush's national guard duty, and that the reporter responsible (Carl Cameron) should be taken off the Kerry campaign beat. That sounds pretty reasonable to me, mostly because I wonder how this guy is supposed to get his job done after this. I don't think I would talk to Cameron if I were a Kerry staffer.

Anyway, Ace of Spades thinks that the Cameron microscandal is better compared to a Washington Post reporter's sarcastic reporting of a Bush meeting on the Hill. (Sample: " The big news of the day was made when our protagonist spoke about education. He declared that education is 'a passion for me.' In addition to this startling revelation, he made a case for free trade and his faith-based initiative. .")

I do not think that Milbank's snide commentary is as bad as Cameron's made-up joke quotes. Lots of journalists do what Milbank did, although it's usually a little more subtle. And I think if Cameron had merely commented snidely about Kerry's manicure without making up funny quotes, he would have been fine.

But what Cameron did was suitable for the Onion, or Scrappleface. (Well, it wasn't quite funny enough, but you get the idea.) So I find it understandable that Joshua Micah Marshall would get upset about Cameron and not about Milbank.

Anyway, the important thing about the Cameron teapot-tempest is that Fox discovered the screw-up quickly, took down the offending material, put up an apology, and disciplined the offender. All this within hours of its posting. Marshall can complain that he doesn't know if Cameron has been punished enough, but all of us know that Dan Rather hasn't been punished at all. And CBS, unlike Fox News, still maintains that what they gave us was fake, but accurate.

Now, for my money, quoting John Kerry showing off his manicure... THAT is fake, but accurate.


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