What is the old saying - the pursuit of truth makes strange bedfellows? Michael Goldfarb of The Weekly Standard finds himself in alliance with James Kirchick of The New Republic, and both are debunking a new attack on Joe Lieberman. Let's go to Michael Goldfarb:
Here's the video of Lieberman giving Obama a good smack on Fox. Jane Hamsher, instead of putting the man in blackface, decides to just insert an error in her transcript of the interview [Actually, Fox News did; see "DIGGING DEEP, below - TM]. She quotes Lieberman:
If we did what Sen. Obama wanted us to do last year, Al-Qaeda in Iran would be in control of Iraq today. The whole Middle East would be in turmoil and American security and credibility would be jeopardized.
Unfortunately for this attack meme, anyone who actually listens to the tape will hear that Lieberman said "Al Qaeda *and* Iran". Ooops. [But in Jane's defense, Fox News almost surely erred in the rush transcript, then corrected it - see "DIGGING DEEP, below. However, since Ms. Hamsher prominently featured a link to the video and opened with "There's nothing quite like seeing it live", I think it is reasonable to expect her to have actually seen and listened to the tape, yes? Well, maybe her defense is that she trusted Fox News. Hmm, time to resume the boycott?] [A bit later - Ms. Hamsher's defense, easily explained by any pop psychologist, is that she does too hear "in Iran". But what would Greenwald do? I don't see any update to her initial post.]
Mr. Goldfarb exhorts Matt Yglesias and the Democracy Arsenal to get the wax out. Mr. Kirchick thumps Democracy Arsenal.
But can I play too? How about this, from what I guess is not The Blog of Record; here is the NY Times Caucus Blog, penned by Ariel Alexovich:
Senator Joseph Lieberman, one of Mr. McCain’s biggest supporters, spoke freely (and unflatteringly) about Barack Obama yesterday on Fox News.
“Well, I think that - let me say generally that Sen. Obama doesn’t come to this debate with a lot of credibility,” Mr. Lieberman said. He added, “If we did what Sen. Obama wanted us to do last year, Al Qaeda in Iran would be in control of Iraq today. The whole Middle East would be in turmoil and American security and credibility would be jeopardized.”
(Presumably, Mr. Lieberman meant to say Al Qaeda in Iraq, not Iran — a mixup that has bedeviled Mr. McCain as well.)
Presumably Ariel wants to check whether that internship can be revoked for cause. Instead of merely providing a link to the Hamsher post, would it be expecting too much of a Times scribbler to actually listen to the tape? I guess so.
And if the NY Times stumbles, surely the LA Times will trip — Borzou Daraqahi in Beirut devotes an entire post at the LA Times blog to the improbability of Al Qaeda in Iran:
MIDDLE EAST: Another Iran faux pas?
Sen. Joe Lieberman was trying to portray presidential contender Barack Obama as a no-nothing on Iraq. But he may have stumbled himself, inventing a whole new militant group supposedly destabilizing Iraq.
My well-intentioned advice to Mr. Daraqahi - when relying on lefty blogs for factual content, mistrust but verify. [The LA Times now has an update noting their error and citing the Lieberman staffas their prod.]
Where else has this Foxy Hamsher invention gone? The Salon Blog Report (sorry, I can't figure out how to permalink the archives) is currently promoting the Democracy Arsenal mis-post as its lead "From The Left" item.
And can we bust Steve Benen, the Salon Blog Report editor, at his own blog? Yes we can!
Can we bust Steve Benen for promoting this at Air America? Yes we can!
Can we bust Crooks and Liars for joining in the faith-based initiative by highlighting "Al Qaeda in Iran" and adding this in an UPDATE:
Update: John Amato: OK, we know McCain had to be corrected by Lieberman when he said that Al-Qaeda was being trained in Iran, a major gaffe for the man running on his foreign policy experience, but what’s Joe’s excuse? Seems like he’s planting this one on purpose. In an email exchange with Digby, she said that it worked so well with Saddam and 9/11.
Yes we can!
Can we bust Digby for uncritically accepting this faux-gaffe in the course of a glorious 'what it all means' exposition? Yes we can!
Can we bust EIN NEWS for this daft headline:
Lieberman Creates New Imaginary Foe: Al Qaeda in Iran
3 Apr 2008 18:33 GMT
Can we bust the Mother Jones blog for excessive MoJo? Yes we can!
Finally, can we bust Fox News for botching the transcript?
No we can't Yes we can! [see "DIGGING DEEP", below.]
If we did what Sen. Obama wanted us to do last year, Al-Qaeda and Iran would be in control of Iraq today. The whole Middle East would be in turmoil and American security and credibility would be jeopardized.
Another tough day for Team Reality. Just mulling out loud here - if someone is going to link to a tape and tell me I really ought to listen to the tape, don't you think they ought to listen to the tape as well? Fair's fair!
Let's start a pool - how long until we see corrections ebbing and flowing through these prominent lefty sites?
(b) way later;
(c) How about "never" - does "never" work for you?
MORE: For the truly dark-hearted, a second pool - which big-time lefty journo will be the first to promote this?
(a) Keith Olbermann (b) Chris Matthews
(c) Paul Krugman (d) Maureen Dowd
(e) Keith Olbermann (f) Keith Olbermann
Punters, do keep in mind - the print people can just rely on the bum Hamsher transcript; Olbermann and Matthews would almost surely feel obliged to play the clip and strain to mishear it. Doesn't mean they aren't capable of it.
DIGGING DEEP: News.Google tells me that FoxNews originally used the phrase "Al Qaeda in Iran" but links to the rush transcript where Fox has the phrase as "Al Qaeda and Iran". I have no idea how the Fox transcription process or their corrections/editing process works or how long it took them to correct this mistake (or how it came to their attention), but this disclaimer is featured prominently at the top of their article:
This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," April 1, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
Mistrust but verify.
As to who got what wrong and how, who knows? *IF*, I say if Jane Hamsher included a link to the initial rush transcript in her initial posting then one might look askance at Michael Goldfarb's contention that she "invented" the gaffe.
OTOH, Ms. Hamsher may have been prodded by the TNR piece to include a link to the transcript somewhat later in the process. In that scenario, it may have been that all Mr. Goldfarb had to go on was Ms. Hamsher's link to the video and an unsourced transcript.
The Google cache is not helping me here; if there is a way to crack this, I welcome suggestions. Something suggestive but not decisive - The Carpetbagger presents the transcript with no link or citation; his reference to a source is "Jane Hamsher has the video". One infers he simply cut/pasted the Hamsher transcript, but why no link to Fox? Is this some lefty boycott, an attempt to give the credit to Ms. Hamsher, or is it becasue he was not aware of the Fox transcript?
ThinkProgress also provides a bit of a transcript without actually linking to a transcript, but they do credit Ms. Hamsher in an UPDATE. Again, suggestive but not decisive.
And you may well ask, what is my excuse? I am troubled - by the time I waded into this dust-up there were plenty of hints that should have alerted me to a rat-like scent, and eventually I picked up on them - Just for example, I stumbled across this stray lefty who linked only to the Fox transcript, which did not even match his text - a clue! Frequent commenter Foo Bar also noticed a problem.
Apparently Jane Hamsher is going to stick with the "I heard 'in', so sue me" defense; since people do hear what they want and expect to hear, who can say she is not telling the truth? However, it certainly leaves one thinking, not for the first time, that the "Reality-Based" Community spends a lot of time in a self-invented reality.
Meanwhile, our fond hope is that we will see appropriate Updates at Salon, the NY Times, Firedoglake, The CarpetBagger, Democracy's Arsenal, and so on, but our breath is unabated. And of course our not-so-secret hope is that by the end of the week we can mock Krugman, Dowd, Rich, and the usual suspects.
DO KEEP IN MIND: In the Fox interview the very next question was about McCain's gaffe linking Al Qaeda with Iran; Lieberman said this:
LIEBERMAN: Well, just ridiculous. I mean John McCain knows that the Iranians are supporting Shia extremists, and that's different from Al- Qaeda. He misspoke. Every one of the other candidates for president at one time or another has misspoken. I have, too.
When I heard him do that, I leaned forward and I said, "I know what you meant to say, but here's what you said." But you know, what is really important about that exchange, if I may quote from the Bible, that wonderful challenge, "How is it that you can see the speck in your brother's eye but you don't see the log in your own?"
They made a big deal out of John McCain misspeaking. But what senator McCain was saying is Iran is training Iraqis who are killing American soldiers and that's what we should be angry about.
So, did Lieberman invent "Al Qaeda in Iran" and forget his own invention thirty seconds later? Or did Fox fluff the original transcript? We make these tough calls every day.