Friday, June 16, 2006

substantive spinning

(update: for those of you looking for the Hastert / Larisa interview stuff - see here)

* someone called citizenspook has a somewhat interesting post - which is probably mostly feverish speculation as we all desperately try to make sense of the Rove unindictment (not least in light of the Leopold fiasco).

at a minimum s/he noted that the NYT changed part of their Rove story from
"Mr. Fitzgerald's spokesman, Randall Samborn, said he would not comment on Mr. Rove's status."
(see to
"Mr. Fitzgerald's spokesman, Randall Samborn, had no comment."
I'm not sure that the change is significant - but somewhat odd. I know that the wire-services update stories with new versions - is it common practice for the NYT to do the same?

To that, I could also add (or perhaps explain) a little more. The NYT headline for that story morphed three times (i have the screengrab if required). that kinda seems odd.

According to the date-sort function at, the morphing occured in this order:
  1. "Rove Won't Be Charged in CIA Leak Case"
  2. "Leak Counsel Won't Charge Rove, Lawyer Announces"
  3. "Rove Won't Face Indictment in C.I.A. Leak Case"
(the last version is the current version)

In fact, there's even another headline (found here) :
"Fitzgerald won't charge Rove, lawyer announces"
That version only has David Johnston's byline, whereas the current version also has Jim Rutenberg

Again, I'm not sure that it is particularly significant - but is it unusual for the NYT to change their headlines and stories? They put up four different versions (all at the same link).

If it is unusual, perhaps it would make sense to take a closer look and watch the details of the story unfold to see if there was any substantive spinning.

Incidentally there is another version, headlined "No Rove Charges Over Testimony on C.I.A. Leak" - essentially the same article - although it is date-lined june 14, whereas the others are june 13 - and it has a separate URL.


Anonymous said...

I'm an MSM insider.

It is common for online versions to be changed in updates. And the "no comment" change seems on the surface just to be changed to conform to newspaper style (KISS).

But ...

It is extremely worthwhile to watch these changes and compare/contrast bylines. Not all reporters and editors are coming from the same professional values these days.

The changes make me suspicious that there is a story line being driven from the top down to override the real reporting/editing.

I keep a list of bylines I suspect don't come from old-school journalists. Your post adds one to my list. Thanks.

lukery said...

thnx 'insider'

i agree that the 'no comment' change was more than likely insignificant.

do you think the same is true regarding the headlines?

Anonymous said...

Oh, another thing ...

I don't think it's fair to refer to Leopold's work as a "fiasco."

There's not enough verified information to characterize it as flawed at this point. What Luskin says about a letter he hasn't produced doesn't mean squat in the world of facts.

All we know are evidences of perceptions, not evidences of facts.

The bases of the reports may not be as mutually exclusive as they appears. We just don't know, in absence of facts.

There were, verifiably, an unusual number of sealed indictments Judge Walton handed down that Thursday and Friday during the reporting in question. I doubt Leopold and the others who reported the same (not all Truthout)are entirely out of left field.

Of course, Walton has given himself virtually every case in that court that involves the White House, sooooo...

Re the headline, taking your word for these facts, I think it's significant that it changed and then changed back, and then changed back again. Inside newsrooms, reporters and editors often disagree, but usually there is a reliable impartial higher-level editor keeping those gates pure. It is absolutely clear to me that the correct news versions were the ones with headlines that attributed to Luskin. Without it, the paper tacitly reports it is a verified fact, which it is not without Fitzgerald's confirmation or production of the original, authenticated letter (remember the Rathergate).

I have no conclusions or even speculations about the would-be Rove indictment, except that a lot of reporting is being done without any facts as a basis. My curiosity turns to Walton.

lukery said...

anon - thanks again.

i actually juggled whether 'fiasco' was an appropriate term - and i decided that it was ok. the choice of word wasnt a value judgement - perhaps 'debacle' might have been better.

i presume that you are new here - but this past week i've repeatedly stated that i dont think that leopold lied - but the situation is undeniably a fiasco/debacle...

"Of course, Walton has given himself virtually every case in that court that involves the White House, sooooo..."
this is very interesting - i'd love to hear more about your thoughts on this issue.
my particular expertise is the sibel edmonds case. she filed that walton should be recused - and he refused - but earlier this month he was quietly removed from the case

re the headlines - i can prove the detail if you are interested (i already provided most of it in the links) - and if you think it is significant.

i share your suspicions - and your lack of conclusions - and your curiosity

Kathleen said...

Citizenspook is a Federal attorney who writes a very informed blog on the legalities. He is who commented on Presidential pardons being voided if they flow from cases of impeachment.

I still maintain that Fitz imposed immunity on Rove so he can't take the 5th in the Libby trial. This would explain Luskin saying Rove is not being indicted, but not showing the letter.

Anonymous said...

Huh? Who removed Walton from the Edmunds case? I thought he was the assigning judge. That's very interesting.

I don't have any special information about that court. I just notice the pattern, and if I were a Washington editor, I would assign someone to look into that full time until I had some real facts. A skilled professional reporter given the resources of a real MSM can ALWAYS get the story.

No one in MSM is doing that today, sadly. There is no more Fourth Estate, in reality. And the blogs, as well intentioned as they may be, don't replace professionally trained journalists who dig for facts and don't settle for reporting the perceptions of talking heads.

You don't have to prove your headline research. I didn't mean to imply I didn't believe you, just that my response was based on facts I hadn't looked at myself. In the old school of journalism, we cite what we know as fact and attribute what others tell us that we haven't seen for ourselves. Sigh, for the old days of reality ...

But I do still think any characterization of the seemingly disparate reporting on Rove is unnecessary and pejorative. There just aren't enough facts shown to know that both aren't accurate, with their own nuances, or both inaccurate.

It sure doesn't smell right, with Luskin still not producing any proof and Fitzie still not confirming Luskin's overly gleeful claim.

lukery said...

anon - the little that we know about the latest re sibel and watson is here

the new Judge is Rosemary Collyer.

it sure doesnt smell right. let's hope we can learn some more soon.