November 29, 2007

Hugh And Mansoor, And A Media Alert

Hugh Hewitt took on Mansoor Ijaz over the supposed Muslim bigotry of Mitt Romney on last night's show, just before the presidential debate. Hugh challenged Ijaz to find independent corroboration on the record for his account of the question and answer, and Ijaz reacted by calling Romney a liar:

HH: I’ve been doing this for twenty years, and on the record means your name is on it. Now I’m not saying it didn’t happen. I’m just saying no one has yet corroborated on the record your account. You’ve had people…

MI: I just completely disagree with what you’ve said, but go ahead. What’s the point?

HH: Okay, the point is that Romney says he understood you to ask a different thing, and answered a different way. You disagree strongly with that.

MI: No, I’m telling you what Romney said is a lie.

Why is corroboration important in this case? Ijaz is the only source for this quote. Jim Geraghty found someone who would only confirm the quotes anonymously, while two other people say they heard Romney say something similar at another time. In the article where Ijaz reported this exchange, he never disclosed his work as a major fundraiser for the Clintons in 1996, where Ijaz himself says he put almost a million dollars into Bill's re-election.

Under those circumstances, independent corroboration should have been made before publishing the article. As Jim told me on Heading Right Radio on Tuesday, the Christian Science Monitor had a duty to disclose that information -- much as CNN did with General Kerr on last night's YouTube debate. Jim went a step further by saying that the CSM should not have run Ijaz's piece but assigned a reporter to the story instead, who could have asked the Romney camp about the question and answer and spoken to some of the attendees to get an idea whether Ijaz had the quotes correct. Afterwards, the CSM could have run the Ijaz piece.

If Romney responded to Ijaz as depicted in the column, it was a poor response. However, the question was just as bad, and despite Ijaz' insistence that he emphasized "consider", he clearly implied at the time that the religious affiliation should get precedence in that "consideration" rather than real qualifications and experience. Ijaz makes this even more clear when he suggests Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria for a Cabinet position in the next administration during his interview with Hugh.

I'll be on Hugh's show tonight at 7:30 pm to talk more about this story.


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