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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In today’s weird media age, up is down and left is right. The sun may or may not rise in the east. Fact and fiction are fungible, and the fungus among us is growing.

Take this odd story:


James O'Keefe, the conservative supersleuth who recently exposed CNN with a series of undercover videos showing a producer and a liberal contributor calling the Russia collusion story “bullsh*t” and a “nothing burger,” got into a tiff with a reporter for The Washington Post.

Because The Post is far left, reporter Paul Farhi went on the attack. In a story headlined “What the latest James O'Keefe video leaves out,” Mr. Farhi sought to discredit the devastating reports.

Mr. Farhi said Mr. O'Keefe’s video of the CNN producer calling the Russia story “bullsh*t” didn’t “disclose that he is based in Atlanta — not in Washington or New York, where most of CNN’s coverage of national affairs and politics are produced.”

Well, Mr. O'Keefe’s video did disclose that, explicitly stating that the producer is based in Atlanta.

So, a reader, Jasun Doyle, emailed Mr. Farhi to point out the error:

“In your article ‘What the latest James O'Keefe video leaves out,’ you explicitly lie and state that James O'Keefe never discloses that the producer is based in Atlanta, which is a BLATANT lie. In the introduction in the CNN Part 1 video from James O'Keefe he explicitly states that the producer is based in Atlanta!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Yeah, Mr. Doyle went there.

“So why on Earth would you lie so explicitly & definitively to your readers?” Mr. Doyle asked.

Mr. Farhi got his undies in a wad, firing back:

“A lie? That’s an amazingly ballsy thing to say. You mean I knew it was wrong and wrote it anyway? How would you even know that? I might have been in error (I wasn’t) but you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about if you accuse me of lying. Apologize or drop dead.”

So, Mr. Farhi doubled down. He wasn’t wrong. His story was perfectly fine.

Then Mr. O'Keefe and Mr. Farhi got into a tiff.

Mr. Farhi tweeted, “A few important omissions in @JamesOKeefeIII’s latest video” and posted a link to his story.

Mr. O'Keefe shot back: “Not even close to fair coverage — you didn’t ‘try.’ You ignored the point! Also, if ‘lying is wrong,’ when will you retract your piece?”

Eventually, Mr. Farhi tweeted, “Sorry to disappoint you, folks. There is no retraction coming. Your tweet appears to be fake news.”

But it wasn’t. The Atlanta disclosure was clear, so why not simply correct the error?

All that was at the end of June. On Monday The Post finally corrected the obvious mistake.

“Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to remove the assertion that the video in question did not say that supervising producer John Bonifield is based in Atlanta. In fact, the video says: ‘I’d like to introduce you to CNN supervising producer John Bonifield in Atlanta,’ which is CNN’s headquarters and is where many of its journalists are based.”

Mr. O'Keefe couldn’t resist and had a bit of fun, vowing to frame the correction. “Ordering the frame now, putting this on our wall next to other retractions. Have you no shame?

Again, just weird that the once-respected Post wouldn’t correct a clear error. But then, everything’s changed now, and who’s to say what’s right and wrong? There is no right or wrong anymore.

• Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter via @josephcurl.


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