There is a strain of faith that intertwines everything that emanates from the conservative media pulpit. They are so fiercely intent on believing any bad news about President Obama and all things liberal that they will suspend common sense entirely in order to preserve their dark fantasies.
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Such was the case when Catherine Anaya, a local reporter with the Phoenix CBS affiliate KPHO, aired a segment introducing her interview with the President. She made some startling comments that reverberated throughout the right-wing mediasphere:
Anaya: We started here shortly after 8 o’clock with a coffee with press secretary Jay Carney inside his office in the West Wing. And this was off-the-record so we were able to ask him all about some of the preparation that he does on a regular basis for talking to the press in his daily press briefings. He showed us a very long list of items that he has to be well-versed on every single day.
And then he also mentioned that a lot of times, unless it’s something breaking, the questions that the reporters actually ask-or the correspondents-they are provided to him in advance. So then he knows what he’s going to be answering and sometimes those correspondents and reporters also have those answers printed in front of them, because of course it helps when they’re producing their reports for later on. So that was very interesting.
First of all, Anaya’s report began with the statement that her meeting with press secretary Jay Carney was “off-the-record,” and then proceeded to report it anyway. That’s the first sign that we are dealing with a spurious story. But the core of the controversy concerns her assertion that White House correspondents are required to supply their questions to Carney in advance. That nugget of pseudo-news set off a flurry of outrage from the usual right-wing media hacks. For instance…
- Glenn Beck: Did a reporter just admit the daily White House press briefing is a sham?
- Truth Revolt: WH Press Secretary Gets Questions from Reporters Before Press Briefing.
- NewsBusters: Ariz. Reporter: Carney’s Briefing Questions ‘Are Provided to Him in Advance’
- Weekly Standard: Reporter: WH Press Secretary Gets Questions from Reporters Before Press Briefing
- Newsmax: Phoenix Reporter: Carney Gets Questions In Advance
- Rush Limbaugh: Local Phoenix Reporter Reveals Jay Carney’s White House Briefings are Scripted with Questions Submitted in Advance
Needless to say, the story was not true. Anaya later corrected the record and apologized for her “bad reporting.” She admitted that “I made two major mistakes: I reported an off the record conversation and what I reported was not accurate. [...] The White House never asked for my questions in advance and never instructed me what to ask.”
The Weekly Standard is the only one of those listed above that placed a correction in their original story. Truth Revolt, a side project of Breitbart News editor Ben Shapiro (whose name candidly suggests a revolt against truth), went to the trouble of posting an update that only reported denials of the story by Carney and Fox News correspondent Ed Henry, but not Anaya’s retraction. NewsBusters, a website that purports to hold media accountable, just deleted the whole article with no acknowledgement of their error.
None other than Fox News recognized the shoddy practices of news enterprises that fail to confirm the authenticity of their reporting. Howard Kurtz wrote for his Media Buzz column that…
“…even as this tale caught fire across the web, the only thing it proved is that a local CBS reporter mangled the facts —and has finally retracted her charge. [...] Bad reporting. Muddied. Incorrectly applied. And the apology took too long.”
Not exactly. It also proved that conservatives with partisan agendas will believe anything that fits their preconceived vision of an evil and calculating president. It also proves that they will disseminate their dishonest delusions even after they have been documented as false. The professional missteps of Anaya were unfortunate and embarrassing, but the blindness and persistence of those who continue to flog her mistakes even after she apologized is far worse because they have knowledge of their deceit and engage in it anyway.