TBT: The Brutal Truth

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Sheehan Falsely Arrested -- Shame On The Beltway

I didn't watch the SOTU address because I figured if I'm going to watch corrupt motherfuckers in action, it's gotta be entertaining corruption. Thus, Vic Mackey won out against President Chimpy. However, according the AP, the real news apparently broke outside the Capitol:

Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq who reinvigorated the anti-war movement, was taken into custody by police in the House gallery Tuesday night just before President Bush's State of the Union address.

Police escorted Sheehan from the visitors' gallery above the House chamber after causing a disruption, said a Capitol Police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the incident were sketchy.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., had invited Sheehan to the address as her guest.

Whoever the hell worded that paragraph I've enboldened needs their fucking head examined. I really would like to know if it was some idiot at the AP or Knight-Ridder. Most likely the former and that brings me to a second question: why didn't K-R fix the AP's shoddy ass reportage? Oh, and it's shoddy, allright. Notice that the words "causing a disturbance" appears 10 whole words before that "details are sketchy" part. As a result, readers will not make it that far -- they'll stop reading at "causing a disruption", believe it hook line and sinker, and then assume Cindy Sheehan went apeshit or something when in fact that not might be the case since "the details are sketchy".

The editors at the AP and K-R had an obligation here to do either of two things with this story:

1) Change the wording of that bold paragraph to something more honest: "A Capitol Police official whom requested anonymity based on the sketchy details of the arrest cited that Sheehan was escorted from visitors' gallery above the House chamber due to an alleged disruption." This gives the reader the "sketchy details" disclaimer before telling you why Sheehan was arrested and the added "potential disruption" compliments the "sketchy details". Afterall, an alleged disuption doesn't mean it happened -- an allegation can be either true or false.

2) Withhold the story until the details aren't so damned sketchy. Transcribing allegations word-from-word from the AP wire that may have to be retracted later once the details aren't as sketchy isn't good for journalism and isn't good for business. It pisses readers off since it gives them that "Gotta Be First With The Scoop" impression. It's better for a news oganization -- both in print and online -- to be second and fair instead of first and dead fucking wrong. Let your competitors make the latter mistake.

Unfortunately, we live in the age where the only journalists that actually give a damn about integrity and fairness in their craft are either those fresh out of high-school/college or the rumpled, old-school, 30-year cubicle barnicles that smell like a concoction of nicotene, pencil shavings, bourbon, and BRUT. It's all about advertizing and pleasing the shareholders today. The truth and the public be damned.

UPDATE: This is a HUGE violation of Cindy Sheehan's 1st Amendment rights. Cindy Sheehan was arrested for wearing a T-shirt she had been wearing all day which simply said: 2,245 Dead -- How Many More? BradBlog was on the case blogging it live as it happened and has a full rundown.

This bullshit has me so fucking livid I can hardly contain it.


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