by Urizenus Sklar on 30/09/10 at 12:50 am
Wall Street Journal’s Jeanne Whalen busted for more journalistic FAIL
by Urizenus Sklar – Contributing Editor and Interwebs Legend
The Alphaville Herald Editors have asked that I come out of retirement to investigate this WikiLeaks matter, and I have to say that I am more than a little peeved by the whole thing. Is there no one else in the Anglophone world who can report their way out of a paper bag? Wake up journalists! Leave Britney alone and start looking into this! Today I’m again looking into Jeanne Whalen’s Wall Street Journal article, and her claim that a “letter from five human rights groups” was “pressing WikiLeaks to do a better job of redacting names from thousands of war documents it is publishing.” So far, I have found three clear and inexcusable errors.
In order of increasing importance the errors are as follows…
Error #1: It is false that all the signatories to the letter were all working for human rights organizations. The International Crisis Group is not a human rights organization. It is a foreign policy think tank. I leave it to the reader to decide what kind of foreign policy think tank it is.
Error #2: It is false that all (or even most of) the signatories were speaking on behalf of the organizations they worked for. Only two persons has claimed this — those being Sarah Holewinkski of Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict and Ahmed Nader Nadery of The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (which, is independent in the Hall of Mirrors ™ sense that it was established by decree of Hamid Karzai and is predominantly financed by nations with forces occupying Afghanistan). The other three say they were writing as individuals.
Error #3: It is false that the content of the letter was to upbraid WikiLeaks; it seems the letter was a request to meet Assange so that they might discuss their concerns about civilian sources and work to find a way to protect them.
All of this leaves open the question of why the letter was (a) leaked to the WSJ and (b) spun as it was by the WSJ. Point (b) is the real corker. How hard is it to accurately report the contents of a letter? Of course, if you then refuse to release the letter to anyone else, I guess you can spin the content however you want.
Point (a) is more difficult. Here are the options.
a-1. One of the signatories was working for The Man, called some friends, got them to sign onto the letter, and released it to the WSJ as a way to control media spin about WikiLeaks.
a-2. Someone who was working for The Man persuaded some people that they should contact Assange and arrange a meeting. Said someone was copied on the letter and released it to the WSJ as a way to control media spin about WikiLeaks.
a-3. Someone who was a signatory to the letter randomly decided to send it to Jeanne Whalen in an effort to see how badly she could misreport it. Presumably this was just done for the lulz.
a-4. Someone who was a signatory to the letter sent the letter to Jeanne Whalen to show how nice positive things were happening, not realizing that she was incapable of reading and accurately reporting the contents of a simple letter.
a-5. Assange leaked it to Whalen. I have no idea why he would do this, since, I’ve heard, he has his own way to release documents. I put that out there because that is what “some people” in The Hall of Mirrors ™ are saying.
Meanwhile I want all of you reporters out there to know that I wasted my morning doing your job when I should have been sitting on my yacht with the girls from the Pink Monkey, enjoying our usual breakfast of iced turtle eggs dusted with beluga caviar and mimosas made with Sicilian blood oranges and Cristal (none of that Moet crap!). No rest for the competent I suppose.