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September 5, 2004
How Newsday Lied To Me

Last week, Leslie Seifert from Newsday contacted me to request my permission to excerpt my convention blogging in order to give their readers a taste of our coverage. I had anticipated that a few media outlets would want to do this, so the request did not especially surprise me. I wrote back and asked them to send me the excerpt they planned to use, and they selected this:

One of the challenges we faced yesterday was the lack of beverages available at the Garden . . . I assumed that we would have all of the concession stands open, but they seem to be closed . . .

Stepping into the breach to soothe dry throats is Political Grounds, which describes itself as "America's Politically-Incorrect Coffee." They've set up a booth giving away free bottled water and very good cups of coffee to anyone who wants to stop by their booth. Julie also gave me a pound of their coffee, which comes in eight varieties. I selected Osama's Mama, which states that it's "dedicated to our fighting men and women searching those caves for the evil one who brought us the events of 9-11. Only a mother with a foot-long beard could love this guy. Osama, where's your mama?"

As most of you who read my convention blogging already know, this hardly represents the bulk of my work at the RNC, and I grew suspicious that this selection jumped out at Newsday as the most interesting excerpt from my blog. This suspicion led to an e-mail exchange with Leslie Seifert (my responses in italics):

I'm fine with this excerpt, but I'm not sure where you're going with your piece. While I think that post was a bit of fun, I don't think it's necessarily representative of my work at the Convention.


I am trying to give a flavor of different blogs, and I am particularly interested in the ways they added to coverage that you didn't see elsewhere. So I am avoiding using straight political commentary, which is not much different than what you can see anywhere in the media.


I don't know whether to be flattered or insulted. ;-) I understand. Thank you for the update!


I hope you'll be flattered; I chose stuff that I thought was interesting and in your case funny. I'm not trying to embarrass anybody.

Well, the Newsday article is out now and you can see for yourself what Newsday and Siefert selected as representative posts from each of the blogs. You can see that political analysis and substantive posts met with Newsday's approval, as long as it made the Republicans look bad. Since Seifert didn't look hard enough for anything critical on my blog -- like my review of Dick Cheney's speech, for instance -- Newsday picked the least substantial post I wrote, one that mostly served as a courtesy to Political Grounds, who provided us with free refreshments throughout the convention.

Looking through the rest of their selections, I can hardly say that they represent the overall tone of the blogging coverage at each blog, but at least they selected something substantial from the others. That's something Seifert specifically assured me that Newsday didn't want. So now Captain's Quarters appears concerned with nothing more than promotional gimmicks, thanks to Seifert's lie.

Roger Simon is even less pleased with the result of Newsday's hack job:

An interesting (but small) example is how I have been distorted. In tomorrow's Newsday there will be a number of quotes from those who blogged at the Republican Convention. While crossing the country yesterday, I received two urgent emails from a gentleman named Seifert from that newspaper. My email box gets rather clogged and, despite dodgy WiFi connections, I could easily have missed them, but I did manage to read them. They asked permission to excerpt my blog, without providing the excerpts they had in mind (a normal and professional thing to do - I would have). I smelled a rat, but gave them permission to do so as a test. And guess what? They chose the most anti-Bush remarks I made, highlighting my firm opposition to the President on the social issues. You would have to read these excerpts very closely to realize that I unequivocally support Bush in the election and would no more vote for John Kerry for President in an era of terrorism than for a protester on Seventh Avenue. (I will provide the Newsday link tomorrow, if it is available.)

After covering media bias and lies for almost a year at CQ, I suppose I should not be surprised to wind up the object of their malpractice now, and truthfully, when I saw the excerpt, I knew something wasn't right. Instead of following my instincts and withdrawing my permission, I trusted Seifert. It won't happen again. (Hat tip to Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette for the information.)

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 5, 2004 8:11 PM

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