Saturday, September 25, 2010

Forbes Magazine Regrets The Error ....

... but it’s doubtful they will change a damn thing, since as Michael Tomasky observes:
....from its perspective this whole episode couldn't possibly have gone better. Arch-conservative owner Steve Forbes got to spread a negative message about Obama. The magazine and its site received massive attention. They even got a White House meeting out of it!

Yes indeed. And this is what is wrong with journalism today: media outlets like Forbes are today less interested in covering news stories and more interested in actually being the story. That is not their job but the lure of the limelight is too much to resist.

Here’s my favorite part of the New York Times piece:

A Forbes fact checker recently contacted the bank to check on the assertion that Mr. Obama supported the 2009 transaction with Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company. Mr. D’Souza asserted that Mr. Obama supported the deal, “not so oil ends up in the U.S. He is funding Brazilian exploration so that the oil can stay in Brazil.”

A note written by Kevin Varney, the senior vice president and chief of staff of the bank, and posted in the comments section of Mr. D’Souza’s blog — and verified by a spokesman for the bank — criticized Mr. D’Souza for not contacting the bank before publication.

“I received a call yesterday from Nathan Verdi, a fact checker at Forbes, who was calling to fact check your article after it was published. (Is this how journalism works now?)”

In an interview, Mr. Varney explained that the transaction “was begun in 2008 with career staffers and approved in 2009 by five Bush-appointed board members.” Furthermore, he said a transaction like the Brazilian one — which provided loan guarantees for Petrobras to purchase drilling and safety equipment from United States manufacturers — did not even rise to the level of presidential awareness.

Mr. Varney said that to cite the deal as evidence of “an anticolonial, Kenyan ideology” on the part of Mr. Obama is “preposterous, it’s false and it’s wrong.”

D’Souza has admitted that his article has factual errors but apparently believes the huge criticism comes from “disagreements of interpretation.” Dude, when your essay’s main premise is supported by factually incorrect and fabricated information, then that is not a disagreement of interpretation. That's journalistic malfeasance and both your and Forbes' credibility is completely shot as a result.

But no matter. D’Souza has a book coming out next week and the uproar -- and steeply discounted bulk sales to conservative books clubs and right wing groups like Wingnut Daily--will surely propel his title (temporarily) to the top of the best seller list. And next time D'Nesh D'Souza pulls a crackpot idea out of thin air and publishes it in a national magazine, he'll be identified as the "best-selling author" his conservative patrons have made sure he appears to be. I just love wingnut welfare.

What annoys me is that no matter how many times the mainstream media gets pwned by politically motivated attacks on Democrats, they still fall for it. Because again, the media loves to cover itself, when it should have been covering the actual content of D'Souza's piece. Had they done their job they would have found it riddled with errors well before the story faded from the national discourse.

This is why no one trusts the media anymore, people.