Fox News’ Major Garrett Really Doesn’t Understand Email

At yesterday’s White House press briefing, Major Garrett of Fox News embarrassed himself by demonstrating his utter lack of understanding of the Internet and email. Today he is escalating his campaign to make a total ass of himself, and he is doing a magnificent job of it.

Garrett appeared on Fox News today to announce that he is pursuing White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to find out how emails, allegedly sent from the White House, were received by people who never requested them. He has even filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get to the bottom of this raging controversy. There are some rather simple and entirely innocent answers to this mystery, but Garrett can’t be bothered to investigate them. On his blog today he admitted to journalistic negligence that would make a cub reporter cringe.

“…in every instance so far, e-mailers insist the e-mail(s) they received from the White House was/were not forwarded. They are positive the e-mails arrived directly from the White House.”

“Fox cannot independently verify all of these accounts. Fox can only represent what hundreds of e-mailers have represented to me or to the network.”

So Garrett is relying on the accounts of the people who contacted him who said they were “positive” the emails came directly from the White House, but he can’t verify a single one. He is satisfied that these people whom he has never met, never questioned, never vetted, are so reliable that he is under no obligation to confirm their assertions. He produces two examples of aggrieved email recipients, one of whom complains, not of an email, but a pop-up ad containing an email from the White House. Of course, a pop-up ad cannot contain an email. It can contain ad, but Garrett didn’t verify this either and, frankly, I’m skeptical.

Click here to enlarge.
These are the people on whose “positive” assertions he was relying when filing his FOIA request. But Garrett is missing an even bigger piece of this puzzle. Apparently he never bothered to look at his very own Fox News blog on which there is a “SHARE” feature that permits anyone to send an email from that site to any other email address. And – surprise – WhiteHouse.gov has the very same feature. (see image at left)

I don’t know if Garrett is really this clueless about the Internet or if he is deliberately manufacturing a remarkably lame scandal. But before he gets himself in too deep, he may want to get former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens to explain this series of tubes to him.

For a network/party that had no problem with the Bush administration actually monitoring and reading their emails, they are sure making a big stink out of something as innocent as a contact list from which they can unsubscribe with a click.

Update: I’m curious if Garrett’s FOIA request would violate the privacy policy of the White House web site. I know that I wouldn’t want my email, or other info that I gave to WhiteHouse.gov, turned over to Fox News.

Update II: Fox News received a response from the White House regarding the mysterious emails:

“The White House email list is made up of email addresses obtained solely through the White House website. The White House doesn’t purchase, upload or merge from any other list, again, all emails come from the White House website as we have no interest in emailing anyone who does not want to receive an email. If an individual received the email because someone else or a group signed them up or forwarded the email, we hope they were not too inconvenienced. Further, we suggest that they unsubscribe from the list by clicking the link at the bottom of the email or tell whomever forwarded it to them not to forward such information anymore. We are implementing measures to make subscribing to emails clearer, including preventing advocacy organizations from signing people up to our lists without their permission when they deliver petition signatures and other messages on individual’s behalf.”

As it turns out, it was third-party organizations who entered the email addresses into the White House system, not some grand conspiracy by Obama and ACORN and Bill Ayres and the Kenyan Consulate. Who knew? Well, everyone but Major Garrett and the fraternity of Foxpods.

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27 thoughts on “Fox News’ Major Garrett Really Doesn’t Understand Email

  1. Thank you for discussing one obvious way anyone with an internet connection might make a nuisance of themselves while providing faux news with more fodder for their buddies’ fear machine.

    I would guess that millions of people with personal home pages post their email addresses online and are constantly astonished that so many spammers can find and sell them. (duh)

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Living in the D.C. area I pass by the White House fairly often. I’m pretty sure there are people, SOCIALIST people, watching my every move and trying to hack my cell phone to get my email address to send me unsolicited emails. I can’t substantiate this but imagine, JUST IMAGINE, if I’m right. I’d open my email and right there, in my own home or office, on MY computer would be an email from one of the most important structures in the world, full of stuff they think is important for me to know. I’d have to go to the trouble of hitting the delete button and everything.
    I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK!

    • You’ve said too much already. You have been reported to FEMA.

      • “You have been reported to FEMA” What? So they can see if he qualifies for a disaster loan, if he qualifies for a trailer to live in, what? Maybe you meant Homeland Security but your clouded view of something you disagree with got in your eyes.

        I just love liberals who yell and scream that FOX is evil and should be taken off the air because of their bias but think MSNBC is the mother of all stations without realizing they hate FOX for the VERY same reason they love MSNBC – they lean towards a political view. (When was the last time Olby or Maddow had a conservative guest on for an opposite view?) So if they are “true” to their thoughts, liberals would also be critical of MSNBC. But that’s not the liberal way – only liberal views are true and correct and even opinions of conservatives are “wrong”, even if it is just their opinion.

        • “I just love liberals who yell and scream that FOX is evil and should be taken off the air because of their bias but think MSNBC is the mother of all stations without realizing they hate FOX for the VERY same reason they love MSNBC – they lean towards a political view.”

          does MSNBC claim to be “fair and balanced” and bringing on as many conservatives as liberals, which fox news claims to do? yeah thats right. fox news doesnt do that and they are NOT “fair and balanced” by any stretch of the imagination.

          “(When was the last time Olby or Maddow had a conservative guest on for an opposite view?)”

          maddow had on the leader from one of those town hall mobs (american’s for prosperity i believe), and pat buchanan as well. and olbermann’s show is not geared around yelling and screaming, rather it involves discussion and analysis. one of the only shows to do so, and still has high ratings for it.

          “So if they are “true” to their thoughts, liberals would also be critical of MSNBC.”

          actually, many liberals are, but people like you ignore them.

          “But that’s not the liberal way – only liberal views are true and correct and even opinions of conservatives are ‘wrong’, even if it is just their opinion.”

          when have you ever seen/heard a liberal say or think that? its the conservatives who are always yelling over people who doubt spout the same far right talking points they do. everyone has their opinion, and both sides are always listening to it. however, there are some from both sides who dont want to hear it. big deal. get used to it.

  3. If it was Bush all the liberals would be pitching their normal SISSY fits. But because it’s OBama it’s all ok.

    • IF it was Bush???

      Bush did implement a policy that allowed the feds to monitor and READ everyone’s email. Did you have a problem with that?

      This email “scandal” doesn’t involve anyone reading your email. It is just someone sending you an email. And this stirs your outrage? Are you really arguing that it is horrible for the government to send you an email, but OK for them to read your email?

  4. Major Garrett had/has not stated any conclusions about anything. He has ASKED for information and response from the White House, which continues to be withheld. He has obtained the permission of the people who SENT HIM THE EMAILS IN QUESTION to release them to the White House and Gibbs continues to stonewall Garrett’s every effort to deliver those emails for examination and response. He, and I, simply want to know… FROM THE WHITE HOUSE… HOW this might have happened. Not slick assumptions or clever excuses… a researched response from the source of the emails in question. If it is the case that someone else used the “send this to my friend” option from the White House website, fine. Shouldn’t be too hard for the WH to investigate, confirm, and state that is the case. Right? (The text of the Axelrod post doesn’t seem to support that explanation, but, I’m willing to entertain that explanation)

    I know we aren’t supposed to be critical of or question anything this Administration does, but this is a fair question in view of the request… BY THE WHITE HOUSE… that people FWD emails they’ve received from family, friends, casual acquaintances TO the WH, via flag@whitehouse.gov.

    Even IF the justification for that action is a legitimate quest for “misinformation” so those things can be addressed and clarified… engaging a third party to pass along MY email to the WH because I have legitimate questions about ANYthing, is troubling, at best. I’m supposed to believe the WH can’t get a comprehensive view of the questions in play simply via feedback from Townhall meetings with Congressional Reps (those who actually bother to hold any), via letters/emails/phone calls/faxes/etc sent directly TO the White House… or by establishing a forum on the WH website where I could ask my questions… for myself… without anyone else being involved? (I would have included “watching the news,” but almost the only news outlet covering questions about the Bills is by Fox News and the WH apparently doesn’t watch that or they’d be fully informed on the matter and wouldn’t need the flag@whitehouse.gov address.)

    Major Garrett’s question may or may not be legitimate. The complete lack of response from the White House in any direct fashion is noteworthy. In and of itself, I probably wouldn’t be remotely concerned. Given the White House has issued an invitation for people to FWD emails they’ve received from someone else? Which, by the way, is in clear violation of all sorts of ethics and most likely legal constraints?

    Go ahead. Stick with the “target, isolate, ridicule” game play, continue to misrepresent facts and issues and slant things into straw man arguments as you please… the American People are not stupid and we are paying attention now. Bush DID do things that should have been called, and he got plenty of flack. That Obama is doing the same… and worse… doesn’t mean he should get a pass. If Bush can take it, I think Obama can. If he can’t, he should get out of the kitchen and stop whining.

    • OK, try to pay attention. No one is asking that your email address be forwarded to the White House. That is simply untrue.

      The emails that Garrett is obsessing about ask that they be forwarded to your family and friends (if you feel like it), not the White House. And why should Gibbs waste time researching these emails when Garrett hasn’t even bothered to do so? When Garrett establishes that they were sent from the White House, then he can ask Gibbs what’s going on. But I’ll bet they were not sent from White House at all.

      As for the flag@whitehouse.gov, that was merely a request for information, not email addresses. They wanted to know about the rumors people heard about health care reform (i.e. death panels),. They did not want anyone’s personally identifiable info.

      Seriously, turn down your conspiracy detector.

      And by the way, I (and every liberal I know) have been critical of Obama. On health care, on torture, on transparency, on Iraq. So please give up this lame assertion that we are all in agreement with him on everything. There is more diversity of thought amongst Democrats than Republicans ever dreamed of. Republicans march in lock step on almost every issue. While is Democrats who are holding up legislation from their own party.

  5. “Whoa! Garrett says he can’t verify all of them, but the corpsicles immediately rewrite that to claim he can’t verify any of them! Why is it necessary to lie about what the man said? And why was it necessary to crop his quote to omit his very next sentence? Here it is with the part the corpsicles clipped off:”
    -
    ‘Fox cannot independently verify all of these accounts. Fox can only represent what hundreds of e-mailers have represented to me or to the network. But in some instances, e-mailers have volunteered to give up the e-mails they’ve received to White House officials if it mean obtaining an explanation about how they came to land on the Obama distribution list.’
    -
    “No wonder the corpsicles cropped that quote.”

    “There’s a slight problem with the corpsicle explanation: it’s wrong! The emails Garrett is referring to all come from David Axelrod, not from some ‘share this article’ link. How do we know? Because they say “David Alexrod” in the from line!”

    http://homepage.mac.com/mkoldys/blog/user_files/axemail.jpg

    “We tried the ‘share’ feature on whitehouse.gov using some spare email accounts. It didn’t put Axelrod’s name in the ‘from’ box–these services (in this case from a company addthis.com) simply forward links. Here’s what one of those ‘share’ emails from whitehouse.gov looks like:”

    http://homepage.mac.com/mkoldys/blog/user_files/addthis.jpg

    “The Axelrod emails Garrett is talking about are completely and utterly unlike anything that ‘share this’ could possibly generate. Ergo it appears that our arrogant pals at News Corpse have embarrassed themselves by demonstrating an utter lack of understanding of the internet and email. We don’t know if the corpsicles are really this clueless about the internet or if they are deliberately manufacturing a remarkably transparent scandal. But one thing’s clear: they cropped a quote to smear Major Garrett, and then made total asses of themselves trying to justify their deceit.”
    ***
    Fox Haters Week in Review
    http://homepage.mac.com/mkoldys/blog/sgl272156103.html

    • I have rarely seen a more lame rebuttal than the one Johnny Dollar has coughed up here.

      1) J$ complains that I wrote that Garrett didn’t verify ANY of the emails to which he referred. His complaint is that Garrett said he couldn’t verify ALL of the emails and that it was wrong for me to write that he didn’t verify ANY of them. Of course, I was right. While Garrett did say that he couldn’t verify ALL of them, he pointedly DID NOT say that he verified ANY of them. He took the word of the people who sent him the emails. Nowhere in his report does he state that he verified a single one. Which is exactly what I wrote.

      2) J$ complains that I cropped Garrett’s quote inappropriately. But the extended quote he provides has nothing to do with the point I was making. I didn’t crop it to alter the meaning. I cropped it because it was irrelevant. My point was that Garrett was relying on the emailers’ accounts rather than documenting the facts himself. The fact that “e-mailers have volunteered to give up the e-mails they’ve received to White House officials,” has no bearing on whether Garrett had done his research. In fact, it affirms that he didn’t. He is simply shifting the research responsibility to the White House.

      3) J$ complains about my speculation that the emails in question might have been generated by the “share” feature on the White House web site (just one of many possible explanations). J$ says that’s impossible because “The Axelrod emails Garrett is talking about are completely and utterly unlike anything that ‘share this’ could possibly generate.” Really? How does J$ know this? Did he see the emails that Garrett is talking about? I haven’t. They weren’t shown on TV. They weren’t published on Garrett’s web site. J$ must have sharper clairvoyant skills than I have. Or perhaps he was over at Garrett’s home going over the emails with him. If J$ hasn’t seen the emails, then it’s presumptuous of him to assert that they couldn’t have been generated by the “share” feature. What we have here is third generation hearsay. Garrett’s taking the emailers’ word and J$ is taking Garrett’s word.

      Garrett’s obsession with this non-issue, and his inability to understand it, is still evident. But what’s really noteworthy is Johnny Dollar’s sycophantic, kiss up, lame ass defense of Garrett’s stupidity.

  6. Okay, so now the WH has admitted to Fox that the emails FROM AXELROD (not something forwarded) were sent to folks who did not request them. They hoped this would satisfy Fox and Garrett. It has not. They want answers as to how the WH got those email addresses. Yeah, this is getting better and better.

    • Yes, I saw that. The explanation is pretty innocent. Basically, third parties entered the email addresses.

      I still can’t figure out why people think this is some kind of scandal. It doesn’t make sense.

      The Axelrod email was written explicitly for advocates of the White House health care agenda. It would make no sense to send it to anyone but supporters. So why would the White House scheme to get email addresses of opponents and send them this particular email? There is nothing to gain.

      • The White House’s website, much like the GOP’s website, allows anyone to enter the e-mail address of any person. It’s not a conspiracy and the people watching Fox and receiving these unwanted e-mails just have to “opt-out”. Sure that’s annoying; but why do you think we all have so much spam mail in our in-boxes?

        These people wound up on the White House’s list the same way I wound up on the GOP’s list; and the McCain-Palin Campaign list…someone I either knew posted my address without to annoy me or a third party entered it on my behalf.

  7. Obviously, e-mail is configured differently for different systems. On mine, the sender and receiver is in a gray area on the top of the message. The white text area could have comments to the sender about the forward or it could just have the forward itself which would have the original, in this case, “From David Axlerod.” Thus, the “screen grab” that Mr. Dollar provided is meaningless as it could be a screen grab that was cropped in order to give the impression that it was directly from Axlerod. Mr. Dollar is full of it. But then if he’s a paid Fox News employee, it’s not a surprise.

    • There are so many things wrong with J$’s analysis it is hard to know where to begin. But thanks for pointing out this one.

      I commented on his site, but he is so dense that he keeps repeating the same things I just debunked.

  8. Hmmmmm – White House has ended flag@whitehouse.gov….Wonder if they caught making a “list” from those emails and got “caught” when they accidentally sent Axelrod’s email out to folks on that “enemies list”? MORE TO COME?

    • Good Gawd, the crazy just doesn’t stop.

      The flag account DID NOT collect email addresses. They never asked anyone to identify any other person or provide personal info. Prove me wrong or shut the f*** up.

      Can you even explain why the White House would have wanted to make a list of opponents and send them the Axelrod letter? It makes no sense. You don’t send a letter like that to opponents. But you people are so tunnel-visioned by Fox that you can’t see the real world.

      • Did you not read the word “accidentally” in my comment? Kind of like accidentally replying to “all”. Boy, I like your site, but don’t like being told to shut the F up. You want me to “prove” something…They just “proved” it to be true themselves.

        • You used the word accidentally referring to sending the Axelrod letter. But I was responding to your nonsense about the flag account being used to collect email addresses.

          I don’t usually go off on people here, but I am just so tired of the persistent lies. Why can’t debate occur with reason and truth. Rightist liars and Fox News anchors are poisoning democracy by making shit up and hyping it incessantly. Birth certificates, death panels, etc. I’m really sick of it.

        • Oh so we are Making shit up….Like all of the liberal bloggers who were sure a conservative republican created the “offensive” Obama Joker Poster and they are RACIST…blah blah. Turns out it was a LIBERAL artist..Kucinich Fan Even…HILARIOUS.

          Yes, telling someone to shut the F up glows with “reason”.

          Moving on…

        • Yes, making shit up. Like you are doing now. Did you see anything here on my site about the Obama Joker poster? Nope. Mainly because it was a cheesy attempt to be provocative and wasn’t worth my time. In fact, I saw very little reporting on it from any liberal blogs. Mostly I saw rightist sites writing adoringly about it and trying to promote it.

          And regardless of where the original image came from, the people posting it were indeed conservatives, which is why they added the word “Socialist” to the bottom (that was not on the original).

          Finally, it is ridiculous to equate that dopey poster (a fifteen minute story) with the efforts by giant media conglomerates (i.e. Fox) to make scandals out of fake death panels or unsolicited emails.

        • Sorry if you thought I was accusing you of ranting about the joker poster on your site. I did not see it here. However, if you saw very little reporting of it on liberal blogs, You obviously do not read many liberal blogs or messages boards. It was all over DU, DailyKos, Huffington Post – they and the media labeled it a RACIST act…of course any dissent against this administration is “racist”.

          I am smart enough to know that “death panels” was a term used to describe the EOL counseling and that those words were not actuallly in any bill. However if nothing like the “death panels” existed…how were they DROPPED from the BILL? You can’t eliminate something that doesn’t exist.

        • Oh, and I meant to also say that I am now going to shut the F up and go to bed.

        • Death panels were NOT dropped from any bill. They didn’t exist. Reimbursement for end-of-life counseling was dropped because of the idiots labeling it death panels. So an important benefit for people and families in a time of need was scuttled because of jerks that wanted to make a political thing out of it. It was co-authored by a conservative Republican and even voted for by Repubs in 2006 for Medicare.

          But liars so intent on making up shit to bash Obama with turned it into death panels and now families will suffer without that benefit.

          Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the death panels bite.

    • Another FOXnation victory is in order, I’m sure…

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