4/2/2010 09:54PM --- Click here for updates, below
4/2/2010 06:24PM --- Click here for updates, below
In today's American Thinker, Jack Cashill does an exceptional job describing the timeline related to the events of March 20th, in which members of Congress were reportedly taunted by Tea Party activists with racial and sexual slurs.
[Members of Congress] left the Cannon Building about 2:30 PM on March 20th and returned about 3:15 PM...
I asked because at 4:51 that same day, McClatchy reporter William Douglas posted an article on the McClatchy website with the inflammatory headline, "Tea party protesters scream 'ni--er' at black congressman."
In other words, Douglas, with an attributed assist from James Rosen, managed to interview representatives John Lewis, Emanuel Cleaver, and Barney Frank, compose an 800-word article, and have it edited and formatted for posting within a 90-minute window.
During that same 90 minutes, Douglas would have received and incorporated a press release from Emanuel Cleaver, making the easily disproved claim that he had "been spat upon and that Capitol Police had arrested his assailant."
But Douglas also had two other important sources: he referenced two additional journalists in the very same article.
Frank told the Boston Globe that the incident happened as he was walking from the Longworth office building to the Rayburn office building, both a short distance from the Capitol. Frank said the crowd consisted of a couple of hundred of people and that they referred to him as 'homo.' A writer for The Huffington Post said the protesters called Frank a "faggot."
But the Huffington Post's article, by Sam Stein, wasn't published until 4:56pm, five minutes after Douglas' article was posted on the web. This mistake would seem to point to wanton collusion between the two authors as they hastily worked to market the smears.
In about 90 minutes, Stein himself cranked out a 400-word piece in record time after interviewing Rep. James Clyburn and a staffer.
First Posted: 03-20-10 04:56 PM
A staffer for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) had been spat on by a protestor. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, was called a 'ni--er.' And Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a "faggot," as protestors shouted at him with deliberately lisp-y screams. Frank, approached in the halls after the president's speech, shrugged off the incident... But Clyburn was downright incredulous, saying he had not witnessed...
What about the Boston Globe?
It appears that the first Boston Globe article to mention the incident didn't actually hit the website until the following day.
Comment at Mediaite by 'val': March 20, 2010 at 7:34 pmSo how did Douglas reference both pieces, along with engaging in numerous interviews and tying in a rapidly-generated press release, in only 90 minutes?
This is a LIE! I was there and no one spat on that congressman. Maxi waters and her crew walked right through the crowd with a look of contempt on their faces. One aid actually called a protester a cracker and a red neck. The Congressional black caucus was looking for troublE and when they didn’t find any they made s--- up.
Why did Pelosi, Frank and members of the Congressional Black Caucus take the long walk directly in front of the Tea Party protests, as opposed to using the tunnel as they do 99.9% of the time?
It appears that it was a conspiracy.
In 90 minutes, a press release was crafted by Cleaver's office, McClatchy and HuffPro "reporters" interviewed a half dozen individuals, wrote lengthy articles, referenced each others material (despite it not having been published) while receiving and incorporating said press release.
This appears to be nothing less than a criminal scam -- a mashup effort by Congress and sympathetic media -- designed to promote racial hatred in order to advance a radical Democrat agenda.
Update at 6:24pm: Thanks to links from Michelle Malkin and Jim Hoft, this story caught the attention of McClatchy's DC bureau and its online editor, Mark Seibel. Seibel comments:
I edited the Bill Douglas story in question. As anyone who works in media today knows, the Web isn't a newspaper and its stories aren't created like newspaper stories either. Surely, the author of this piece knows that.
Here's the real timeline:
Bill's first version of the story was posted at 5:01 p.m. (Eastern) Here it is in its entirety: "WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said Saturday that some demonstrators gathered outside the Capitol to protest the health care overhaul legislation called him "ni--er." [Ed: Redaction mine]
Lewis, a longtime civil rights activist who is head of the Congressional Black Caucus, said some demonstrators also spat on black members of Congress as they left the Capitol after meeting with President Barack Obama.
The claim could not immediately be confirmed."
The story then went through 13 additional iterations, each adding detail. The second version, posted at 5:12 p.m., corrected when the incident had taken place (it was on the way to the Capitol that the n-word incident happened, not on the way back) and was nine graphs long. The last graph cited a CNN report on the Barney Frank incident. That citation was changed to HuffPost in version 4 at 5:19 p.m. after I was alerted by a Nico Pitney tweet.
The Boston Globe version of events was added to the story at 6:54 p.m. after Bill heard the audio of the Globe's interview with Frank. At that point the story, in its seventh version, had grown to 16 paragraphs.
James Clyburn's comments were added in Version 9, at 7:35 p.m. The statement from Emanuel Cleaver's office was added in Version 13, at 8:33 p.m. At that point the story was 25 paragraphs long.
The final version, posted three minutes later, made some minor word changes.
That's the timeline from McClatchy's internal audit system.
I sent an email to Seibel asking for some screen-caps from the web site CMS (content management system). I will add updates if I receive responses.
Now there are a couple of additional questions I have for Mark.
1. How is it that an inflammatory word like ni--er wasn't redacted, especially when the story was unconfirmed?
2. Now that more than a dozen videos have emerged of the walks, with none showing the use of a racial epithet, how is that a retraction was never issued for this story?
3. Does it strike you as odd that McClatchy's Nico Pitney re-tweeted an inflammatory HuffPo headline within one minute, apparently without even reading the accusation?
4. Does anyone wonder what's going with HuffPo's CMS when the story says it was "First Posted: 03-20-10 04:56 PM" (see above for screen-shot), yet tweet links started occurring 45 minutes before that timestamp?
Put simply, Mark, this entire story -- from the highly unusual walk through a massive protest, to the instant posting of racially divisive words and inflammatory rhetoric (without a whit of confirmation) -- stinks to high heaven. Are you folks journalists or flacks? Because, from all appearances, it looks like you're the latter.
Andrew Breitbart offered $100,000 to anyone who can provide proof that the slur occurred. No one has taken him up on his offer.
Update at 9:54pm: McClatchy DC online editor Mark Seibel was kind enough to respond twice tonight. His first email reads:
I've seen no video of the event. The americanthinker video displayed is not the event -- the Capitol is clearly in the background and the Congressmen are walking away from it, not to it. The n-word incident, as relayed to Bill, happened when they were headed to the Capitol. I went over this afternoon to see where the videographer was standing when he shot what's on the Web. There's no way it could represent the incident as the incident was relayed to Bill -- or at a time consistent with when Bill interviewed both Lewis and Cleaver in the Visitors Center before they left to go back to their offices. If the videographer had been there when the Congressmen left for the Capitol, that would be useful. But I've yet to see a video of that. As for a screen capture of the story versions, I think I can do it. We'll soon find out.
In response to my request for screen-caps of the McClatchy content management system, Mark did relay the following images a bit later (click to zoom):
Ok. here are two png files. I couldn't get one screen grab that captured the whole thing but i think these two together work. you'll notice a version 15; that's something I did today when I noticed I hadn't clicked the correct box for archiving sales on the first version back on the 20th. there wasn't a change in the story, just how its source (McClatchy, AP etc.) was categorized. I'm sorry they aren't more legible, but i think you can make them out. To the right of the headline you'll see a number in parentheses. this is the word count of that particular version, which would include summaries, links etc.
Note the 4:51pm "release date" at the top of the screen. This corresponds to Jack Cashill's time-stamp for the publication of the original story.
I very much appreciate Mr. Seibel's forthright approach and help. That said, answers to the questions I posed, above, would be very helpful. I will update this post as events warrant.
Update at 10:29pm: I've been reconstructing the chain of events on Twitter. Recall that Seibel said he altered Douglas' article to refer "to HuffPost in version 4 at 5:19 p.m. after I was alerted by a Nico Pitney tweet."
Let's ignore the fact that a mainstream media outlet instantly modified a major news article based upon a re-tweet by a Huffington Post associate. Nico's tweets are screen-capped above. About ten minutes after @CrewOf42 tweeted that Rep. Carson said he'd been called the "N-word", the HuffPo DC bureau chief re-tweeted the news. There was no link and no attribution associated with this message.
@CrewOf42 is the Twitter handle for Lauren Victoria Burke, a self-described "unbought and unbossed" blogger reporting upon "the 42 members of the Congressional Black Caucus."
Her first tweet reporting the incident came at 2:34pm, just four minutes after -- according to Cashill's timeline -- the CBC departed the Cannon Building for the Capitol.
Now that's service! Four minutes after setting off on his walk, Carson verbally informed a reporter that he'd been called the N-word? Give me a freaking break.