FHWiR Update: New Lies for Old

Talk about making waves: J$P gets noticed by Media Matters! Plus the Sherrod debate brings us its most flagrant liar yet. It’s all in an exciting update edition of Fox Haters Week in Review! Now with a Major Update!

We’re pleased that we have been mentioned by Media Matters. And not just any old Media Matters scribe, but our pal Eric Boehlert, a “Senior Fellow” no less. He takes issue with our inclusion of his comments in our last Fox Haters Week in Review, where we accurately quoted what he said:

Look, the first mistake they made, or the Department of Agriculture, or whoever was making the calls, they believed something that Andrew Breitbart put on his Web site. That‘s mistake one. And then they believed a smear campaign, a character assassination attack that Fox News was peddling.

Mr Boehlert responded today:

Not true, Johnny Dollar whines, because nobody at Fox News touched the story until Sherrod resigned, so Fox News wasn't peddling the smear campaign, as I suggested to MSNBC. Please note the language I used. I referred to "a character assassination attack that Fox News was peddling." But Johnny Dollar says no way because nobody at "Fox News" touched the story until after Sherrod's resignation a week ago Monday.

Now Eric doesn’t quote what we wrote, mainly because his description of our words is false. We never said nobody at Fox “touched the story”, as Boehlert twice claims. As is eminently clear, we discussed what aired on Fox News Channel. You see, Boehlert now wants us to believe that his comments above were not about Fox News Channel at all, but about a post on foxnews.com:

Has Johnny Dollar ever head [sic] of the Internet? Because if he had, he'd know that there's this whole division within "Fox News" (i.e. FoxNews.com) that publishes news and commentary online. And if he had heard of the Internet, he'd know that "Fox News" peddled the bogus Sherrod story before she resigned.

Yes, there was a post on foxnews.com. It was not the subject of our report because the notion that it was that post, rather than Breitbart and all the dozens of other websites, that was a cause of Ms Sherrod’s firing is not just unprovable, but preposterous. (And, as it turns out, impossible--because contrary to Mr Boehlert, it seems the article wasn’t posted until after Sherrod resigned. See update below for details.)

But is that truly what Boehlert was talking about with Ed Schultz: one post on a website? Note that nowhere in the conversation does anyone mention online posts at foxnews.com. In the setup piece for the segment, Schultz rails not about foxnews.com, but what aired on Hannity. When Boehlert joins him, he could have said it was a foxnews.com report that influenced the White House, but he didn’t. Instead, he talked about a “smear campaign” from Fox News. And now he wants us to believe that the “smear campaign” he was talking about was not Fox News Channel but merely one online report? And that one report is what the White House reacted to?

Really, a Senior Fellow should be able to express himself more clearly than that. So do you believe Boehlert’s apparent ret-con? That’s a question of credibility, and when it comes to discussing Fox News Eric’s track record for veracity is spotty at best. After all he claimed that Fox News wasn’t interested in FOIA requests under the Bush administration, but oops, that was untrue. He concocted a smear of Glenn Beck out of misrepresentations and falsehoods. And of course there’s the time he lied about FNC’s tsunami coverage, and didn’t bother to make a correction even after the true information was emailed to him.

Eric notes:

Apparently Johnny Dollar can't read too good. (Not to mention write.)

We admit it. We’ve got a long way to go before we can approach the level of accuracy and honesty of a Media Matters “Senior Fellow”.

Elsewhere, another voice we have heard from before resurfaces. In discussing the Fox coverage on Day Two (Tuesday), he writes:

And it didn’t prevent the wall-to-wall character assassination which the network engaged in all day Tuesday, until the full, exonerating version of the tape of Sherrod’s speech was finally made public by the NAACP Tuesday night.

Well this is, um, not true (probably why no examples are given). As the LA Times noted:

The first reported piece on Fox News, by correspondent James Rosen, aired on Tuesday morning, and included a second video clip that added context to Sherrod’s comments.

As Mediaite reported:

By 9amET Tuesday, all three cable news networks – CNN, Fox News and MSNBC – were reporting the story in full context. They were all showing the clip (many times), but also all pointing out that Sherrod was speaking out against it.

Oh, and part of that Tuesday coverage was from Glenn Beck, who took Sherrod’s side and was praised by the New York Times. So much for the “wall-to-wall character assassination”. Who is it that’s making this eminently false claim? None other than Charles Kaiser. Yes, we met him in our last FHWiR. You will recall that at that time he was making a different patently untrue allegation:

Fox News runs the distorted clip continuously on all of its shows Monday. Before giving Shirley Sherrod a chance to tell her side of the story, the Agriculture department demands and receives the resignation of the head of its rural development office in Georgia.

Not surprisingly, his latest screed makes no mention of the falsehoods he was spewing just days earlier.

Finally, here’s one of the most flagrant liars in this entire affair. On Sunday Howard Dean sputtered as Chris Wallace explained to him how cause and effect work in the time-space continuum. You’d think that he would learn from his mistakes, but today he went on MSNBC and flat-out lied about how Fox covered the Sherrod story on Monday, Day One:

DEAN: I happen to like Chris Wallace, but he was really not being exactly accurate when he talked about ‘we didn’t say one word about this before the Secretary of Agriculture fired her’. The fact of the matter is they were pushing this story very very hard all day. It may be true that they didn’t mention her name, but they sure did run the tape without mentioning her name, and they cranked up this story...

The truth: the tape was not played, and the story was not reported on FNC until long after she had resigned. That’s not a matter of opinion; it’s fact. Sorry, there’s only way to say this. Howard Dean: you lie.

Spot something you’d like to see in the next Fox Haters Week in Review? Send us an email!

UPDATE: Did Media Matters lie in its published “timeline”? Eric Boehlert is hanging his hat on the claim that foxnews.com published a report on the Sherrod video before she resigned, and that online report influenced the decision to fire her. Media Matters timeline places that foxnews.com report after Breitbart’s video (11:18 am) and before a Jim Hoft blog post (12:13 pm). But they don’t document when the foxnews.com article was actually published. No timestamp.

Here’s the interesting thing. The article in question was not removed from foxnews.com. It was simply updated with new information as it came in. The current version of the article is still in the same place, including the 7/19 date in the URL. What’s more, all the comments are there, dating all the way back to the first version of the piece from 7/19. And when you jump to the earliest comments, the first one is timestamped Monday July 19...at 6:22 pm. Since Sherrod’s firing wasn’t made public until later that evening, these comments are clearly from the first version of the post.

But wait: if the offending foxnews.com article wasn’t even posted until after 6:00 pm, how could it have influenced the decision to fire Shirley Sherrod? It couldn’t and it didn’t. The resignation requests came Monday afternoon while Ms Sherrod was driving to Atlanta. In fact, Brit Hume has confirmed when the article first appeared:

Shirley Sherrod was not mentioned on Fox News Channel, or on foxnews.com either, until after the Obama administration had forced her out.

Mr Boehlert, it appears you relied upon a falsified timeline, and even the one online report you cited didn’t appear until well after Ms Sherrod was out of a job. Now will you correct your falsehoods? [7/27 1:45 pm]

Note: See the post that started this all here.
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