A Great Big Cup of Mea CulpaJunior Poobah Gabriel Zolman, from The Amen Corner, made an interesting comment about our recent rant on Bush calling the US Constitution a, "goddamn piece of paper". Gabe said, "I hate to say it, but I suspect this "goddamned piece of paper" non-scandal is going to turn out to be a bust - an urban legend at best. If there was even a hint of truth to it, the Bush Corporate Guard would have tried to stomp this story out already, and the larger liberal press would have latched onto it in defiance. Someone, somewhere, knows better."
It got us thinking. We asked ourself the same questions when we ran across the story. So, why did we quote it anyway?
The truth is, there is no defensible reason to run it and many reasons to suspect it:
- It quotes multiple unnamed sources.
- Some quick research shows that at least some people distrust Capitol Hill Blue as a source, rightly or wrongly.
- Gabe is probably right that there would have been a tizzy of activity trying to quash the story if it were true, much like how Newsweek reports that the Bushies tried to stop the new Snoopgate story.
- In our quick searches we cannot find anyone else as an original source for the story. All posts we can find point back to Capitol Hill Blue. Never a good sign that something is truthful.
The clear and unambiguous answer is quite simply no.
In hindsight, it is something we wish we hadn't run with. We could use lots of excuses like saying it hasn't been proved true. We could claim we have no resources to independently verify it. We could say that, while the story may not be true, it's certainly believable. We could transer blame by saying that links to the original source gave people the opportunity to verify the story for themselves (referred to as the caveat emptor defense). All of those things are true, but they are ultimately excuses.
We've certainly taken our fair share of shots at Fox News and plenty of other info outlets (we use that term because we believe we are all members of "the media") when they've reported untruths or partial truths, so we can't avoid taking ourselves to the woodshed now, can we?
So here is our apology:
- Mr. Bush, were are sorry if we have reported something that is untrue about you (unless it is obviously a satire, which is fair game we think). You have a shitty job. Granted, we don't think you're doing it well, but it is still a shitty job.
- Readers, we are sorry we may have mislead you. You deserve better, especially from someone who is omnipotent and should know better.
- We're also sorry for those who went on to write similar posts themselves, even if they were beautifully written and contained sentiments that, like our post, were justified.
- To atone, we have sent the comment to Snopes to see if they can get to the bottom of it and have asked for verification from the editors at Capitol Hill Blue. We'll keep you posted about what we find.
But we do take personal responsibility for our mistakes and that is what we hope we are doing here. Mea culpa.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, December 21, 2005