Thursday, December 15, 2005

All The Spin That's Fit To Print

It is really something when the New York Times' attempt to push a bogus story about the Iraqi elections is smoked out by Reuters. Stranger things have happened - but not very often.

Dexter Filkins (NYT):
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 13 - Less than two days before nationwide elections, the Iraqi border police seized a tanker on Tuesday that had just crossed from Iran filled with thousands of forged ballots, an official at the Interior Ministry said.

The tanker was seized in the evening by agents with the American-trained border protection force at the Iraqi town of Badra, after crossing at Munthirya on the Iraqi border, the official said. According to the Iraqi official, the border police found several thousand partly completed ballots inside.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the Iranian truck driver told the police under interrogation that at least three other trucks filled with ballots had crossed from Iran at different spots along the border.

The official, who did not attend the interrogation, said he did not know where the driver was headed, or what he intended to do with the ballots.

Mussab al-Khairalla (Reuters):
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The head of Iraq's border guards denied police reports on Wednesday that a tanker truck stuffed with thousands of forged ballot papers had been seized crossing into Iraq from Iran before Thursday's elections.

"This is all a lie," said Lieutenant General Ahmed al-Khafaji, the chief of the U.S.-trained force which has responsibility for all Iraq's borders.

"I heard this yesterday and I checked all the border crossings right away. The borders are all closed anyway," he told Reuters.

Iraq's frontiers are closed for the period of the election.

"I contacted all the border crossing points and there was no report of any such incident," Khafaji said.

Interior Minister Bayan Jabor also denied the reports, which the New York Times ran prominently, quoting a single unnamed Interior Ministry source, and said it was an attempt to discredit the election process.

Despite being refuted by people who are in the best position to know what's what, the Times article still was able to meme itself throughout the MSM:
RUSH: This was this morning on CNN. Miles O'Brien interviewing a member of the Multi-National Corps of Iraq, US Army Colonel Brian Stephenson live, and Miles O'Brien said, "Colonel Brian Stephenson, one of the people charged with securing these elections, colonel, good to have you with us. First of all let's talk about these phony ballots. What do you know about that truckload of ballots and the possibility there might have been others out there?"

COL. STEPHENSON: We received that report very early this morning, and as with any report like that, we'll get to the source and try and confirm whether or not it's true, which we have not been able to do yet.

RUSH: So O'Brien says, "Well, how good were these counterfeits? I mean, is there some concern they could easily be mistaken for real ballots?"

COL. STEPHENSON: Well, we haven't even confirmed that the story is even true, so we can't assess how valid the ballots might be.

O'BRIEN: So you're personally unaware of the story? We've been reporting it, other news media have been reporting it, you're not aware of it?

COL. STEPHENSON: Oh, I'm very aware of it. We just have no corroboration that it's true, and we're trying to confirm and do just what you mentioned is find out are there in fact ballots there and could they be used as counterfeits. Again, we have a lot of steps in place to prevent that even if it were to come through the country.

RUSH: See, now, what the colonel didn't say but said is that just because you are reporting it at CNN and the rest of the media doesn't mean it's true. Now, you heard, Miles O'Brien read the New York Times, it's gospel, asks this guy, "Well, these ballots coming in, looked forged?"

"We haven't even seen them yet."

"Well, do you think they are pretty good looking forgeries?"

"No, we haven't even seen them. We haven't confirmed it's true."

"Well, do you think there are more that you haven't found?"

"Well, no, we haven't confirmed that it's true yet."

"Well, how many of them are there?"

"Well, we haven't confirmed that it's true yet."

"But we're reporting it in the media, and the media says it's happening."

"Well, we're trying to do what you're doing to confirm it." How many times did the guy have to say we haven't confirmed the story? And yet every question was oriented around the fact the story is it true. Now we know the story was bogus. Now, I can tell you, I ask the question, to what extent will they criticize the New York Times for its repeated lies and errors?

Good question, Rush. But I won't hold my breath waiting for an answer - or for a correction by the Times.

H/T - Rush Limbaugh

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