Sunday, May 28, 2006

April Oliver got a fiancial settlement, whether Wikiepedia tells you it happened or not, It Happened

Slow readers are the right wing? We're suspecting that. A group launched an e-mail campaign about comments on April Oliver here. We're not sure what piece they're noting. Possibly a mention in Katie Was a Cheerleader." That ran April 16th and we hope we're not over-estimating their abilites to think that they could have completed reading a feature in around forty-two days. (Maybe they just made it up to the April Oliver mention?)

We delighted in noting that all thirty-two e-mails were more or less the same.

When you can't think for yourself, why should you be able to write for yourself?

Here's the story. CNN and Time magazine get together to produce a news magazine (NewsStand). Valley of Death details Operation Tailwood (the use of sarin in Laos on American troops captured or who had gone AWOL). The televised program creates a stir.

CNN and Time, which wanted attention and wanted that program, get nervous with the reaction. (Including the usual nonsense of "I will never watch again!" e-mails.) Worse (our opinion) they've got the Pentagon on their backs and God forbid CNN (or Time) ever lose access to the Pentagon. So they turn on April Oliver.

They don't tell her that they've turned on her. They tell her they need to do an investigation into the story. They let her think that they (CNN and Time) are on the same side as Oliver. And that a journalistic investigation will be conducted. The witch hunt wasn't about journalism. It was about taking the heat off CNN and Time. (Not unlike the recent "investigation" into CBS' story on Bully Boy's National Guard 'service.') Lawyers aren't journalists and a legal review is rarely about journalism.

April Oliver was led to believe they were on the same side. It should have been a wake up call to every journalist. When those investigations start, you're not part of a team. Retain your own lawyer immediately and don't agree to be silent. Oliver got burned, Mapes got burned. Take it to heart. Realize that the media has power and use it to make your case in. Not aftewards, when no one's too interested in reporting anything other than a "I can't belive they came to those conclusions" soundbyte. While the investigation is going on, reporters are interested. You talk then. You make your case then.

You will be screwed over, it happens every time.

The e-mails have noted that Oliver was "wrong" or "proven wrong." That's an interesting take, it's just not true.

CNN would like for you to believe that fiction as would Time magazine. But it's fiction.

Heavily reported was the witch hunt. Less reported was what happened when the matter headed for the court. From pages 308-309 of Reese Schonfeld's Me and Ted Against the World: The Unauthorized Story of the Founding of CNN:

On January 17, 2000, Oliver, Moorer, Singlaub, and their lawyers and associates met to take Admirable Moorer's deposition. Throughout the morning, lawyers for the plantiffs lobbed easy questions at him, suggesting that Oliver had been harassing him and had misrepresented his answers in the documentary. Then it was Roger Simmons's turn.
Oliver had hired Simmons, a gentlemanly country lawyer devoted to history and the Constitution, out of Frederick, Maryland. She had spent her Christmas break with him, reviewing documents. Immediately after the interviews with Moorer, she'd entered her notes into a computer and kept the handwritten originals.
Simmons knew that Admiral Moorer had great respect for history and was a man of honor. He opened by asking Moorer if he had said, "The difference between a democratic and communist government is that in a democratic government we advertise and discuss our faults and that in a communistic government they cover them up." Moorer agreed that he had. Then Simmons talked Moorer through a brief history of the Vietnam War, and discussed Moorer's distinguished military career.
Finally, Simmons presented Moorer with a computer printout of April Oliver's handwritten notes from their interviews. Question by question, Simmons asked the Admiral if the notes fairly refelcted Moorer's recollections of his conversations with Ms. Oliver. Time after time, the Admiral agreed that the notes were accurate. His answers indicated that Oliver had quoted him correctly about Operation Tailwind. Moorer admitted that sometimes defectors were killed and that he had been told by Singlaub that killing defectors was a priority. When asked about the use of sarin, the poison gas, Moorer said, "If the weapon [sarin] could save American lives, I would never hesitate to use it."
Moorer seemed to have confirmed the two basic points of Operation Tailwind. One, that some American defectors in Laos had been killed, and two, that sarin had been used to rescue American pilots. After Moorer's deposition, it was apparent that CNN's retraction was premature, cowardly and dead wrong.

Oliver got a huge settlement as a result of this. But the impression is still that the Operation Tailwind reporting was "wrong" and had been proven to be "wrong." No such thing happened. CNN and Time never conducted a journalistic investigation. The goal was always (our opinion) to placate the Pentagon. They hired Floyd Abrahms who knows about the First Amendment but very little about journalism (his son knows even less).

The only time journalism entered into the picture was when Oliver was named in a law suit and she got her own attorney. When that happened, the witness who had disputed had to admit that the quotes were accurately presented.

A visit to Crap-apedia, fails to turn up these facts. We were informed by several angry e-mailers that Wikipedia says the story was wrong (it doesn't state that) and that's the end of the story.

Crap-apedia. Where to start? How about with another article? (Which we will do.) For now, we'll just note that we supported the idea of Crap-apedia . . . and then we visited. Crap-apedia has no excuse for being unaware of what happened on January 17, 2000. But Crap-apedia has so many mistakes, we're sad to say, that it's practically filled with crap.
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