Big lies, big errors, Conason no better than those he criticizes

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Conason Big lies-dubious sources



Spinsanity gets into some of the lies, distortions, dubious sources and questionable assertions put forth in Conason's book. Considering it is a polemic meant to call others into question regarding their claims and sources, you think he would do a little better himself.



Some nice excepts from the article..



Quote:

Nor is Conason's book immune from politically-motivated distortions. On page 105, he writes that "the White House is seeking to shut down the Government Printing Office . . . This is billed as a cost-cutting measure, but its effect will be to curtail yet another means for citizens to secure their freedoms."



Conason provides no source for this claim, with good reason - it is incorrect. "



I think I even saw this one tossed into discussions here as proof of an uncaring Bush.





Quote:

Another instance of Conason's sources failing to back him up occurs on page 185, where he claims that "more than 70 percent of the state's [Texas's] black and Hispanic children" lived in poverty during Bush's term as governor of Texas. He cites a study by Texans for Public Justice to back up his assertion. However, the report includes no such statistic. In fact, according to Texas State Data Center and Office of the State Demographer, approximately 31 percent of Hispanic or latino children in Texas were below the poverty line in 1999, as were 30 percent of African-American children. (A press release from a non-profit advocacy group suggests that "an estimated 40 percent of African American and Hispanic children were poor" in 1994).



There more of course but it shows those around here that Conason is not better than those he criticizes. He will resort to making stuff up to make a point.



Nick
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    It's okay to lie as long as you're against Bush/Israel/USA/...
  • Reply 2 of 24
    giantgiant Posts: 6,041member
    Actually, the bit about the GPO is not off. My work is a government depository. Last summer it was announced that government agencies were going to be permitted to circumvent the GPO and print privately. In june, after much protest from gov pubs librarians (with ours among the leaders), a compromise was announced that makes all payments and dealings go through the GPO (there were other stipulations, as well). Basically, it's just another one of the steps the Bush admin is taking to privatize government services.



    Of course, the biggest issue in this is actually that decentralized printing would make if very difficult for depositories like ours to receive materials. "Reminding" private printers to provide documents was really only as far as they were willing to go until the compromise. While that might sound all nice and dandy to someone not involved, it really is not practical. The whole point of the GPO in the first place was to make it easy for citizens to receive information about the government, and this measure sought to reverse that.



    So what does this say about spinsanity? I've always liked spin-sanity (though I don't go there very often), but here we have caught them trying to oversimplify an issue in an effort to attack someone. What Conason says here is not off at all, and it's actually really good he included it in his book. Really, the only place I ever read about the extremely important information issues outside of library circles is slashdot, so it's nice to see someone actually getting it out there. Last winter when this was being discussed heavily, it was always shocking to me that major media outlets were not speaking out about a change that would effectively cut them off from getting important information on their government's activities.
  • Reply 3 of 24
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,454member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by giant

    Actually, the bit about the GPO is not off. My work is a government depository. Last summer it was announced that government agencies were going to be permitted to circumvent the GPO and print privately. In june, after much protest from gov pubs librarians (with ours among the leaders), a compromise was announced that makes all payments and dealings go through the GPO (there were other stipulations, as well). Basically, it's just another one of the steps the Bush admin is taking to privatize government services.



    Of course, the biggest issue in this is actually that decentralized printing would make if very difficult for depositories like ours to receive materials. "Reminding" private printers to provide documents was really only as far as they were willing to go until the compromise. While that might sound all nice and dandy to someone not involved, it really is not practical. The whole point of the GPO in the first place was to make it easy for citizens to receive information about the government, and this measure sought to reverse that.



    So what does this say about spinsanity? I've always liked spin-sanity (though I don't go there very often), but here we have caught them trying to oversimplify an issue in an effort to attack someone. What Conason says here is not off at all, and it's actually really good he included it in his book. Really, the only place I ever read about the extremely important information issues outside of library circles is slashdot, so it's nice to see someone actually getting it out there. Last winter when this was being discussed heavily, it was always shocking to me that major media outlets were not speaking out about a change that would effectively cut them off from getting important information on their government's activities.




    giant,



    I want you to know that even though we often strongly disagree strongly I do understand the subtlety of what you are trying to express here. You didn't post a one line throwaway and while I disagree with the conclusion, I did want you to know I see and appreciate the difference in posting.



    I consider the view that you express to be similar to how voucher proponants claim vouchers would destroy and defund public schools. I am a school teacher so I am pretty familiar with both sides of this argument. The article claimed that some agencies were going to be allowed to put their printing out to competitive bidding. As the article points out this would not affect archival of that information, nor would it close the government printing office. It might make the printing office more efficient.



    However I will concede this point, the printing office itself might not be the source of it's own inefficiency. There might be unreasonable demands made upon it which drive costs up, or regulations they must meet that private printers do not have to meet. So the problem or privatizing some aspects of the GPO might not fix the issue of their cost. I will grant you that, but I would not characterize it as attempting to shut it down either.



    There are those, like in public schools vouchers for example, that do consider this the first of a in a long series of events that could eventually lead to the defunding, etc. of the GPO. However that is basically a long slippery slope argument with only one possible outcome and any change in policy or funding declare suspiciously as endorsing that slippery slope. I don't believe that for public schools and I don't believe it for the GPO. However the proponents behind those beliefs are well intentioned and have some firm beliefs about what those institutions address. (GPO would be seen as representing freedom of information) In otherwords the beliefs sometimes associated with those institutions are so important I can even understand the hyperbole associated with the arguments. I just don't follow the slippery slope.



    Nick
  • Reply 4 of 24
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    Simple rules would fix the problems. Any government document that would normally be printed by the GPO and archived for public consumption that is printed by an outside source must have a copy in the archives within one monty [?] of printing or the person responsible for the action and their immediate superior get 5 years in a federal prison.



    Or, if anything is printed, and it is later [a month?] discovered that a copy never did get put into the archive, then the privilege of going to an outside printer is lost for everyone. One screw up and the program shuts down.



    Take your pick.
  • Reply 5 of 24
    Quote:

    Originally posted by bunge

    Simple rules would fix the problems. Any government document that would normally be printed by the GPO and archived for public consumption that is printed by an outside source must have a copy in the archives within one monty [?] of printing or the person responsible for the action and their immediate superior get 5 years in a federal prison.



    Or, if anything is printed, and it is later [a month?] discovered that a copy never did get put into the archive, then the privilege of going to an outside printer is lost for everyone. One screw up and the program shuts down.



    Take your pick.




    Pretty darn extreme, especially in this day and age where we could email a PDF to the government DVD burner.



    However back to the point, do you think Conason engaged in the sort of hyper-inflated political rhetoric that say an Ann Coulter engages in. Is a policy for considering the possible outsourcing of some printing really closing down the GPO, locking the doors and denying folks freedom to governmental information?



    Nick
  • Reply 6 of 24
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trumptman

    However back to the point, do you think Conason engaged in the sort of hyper-inflated political rhetoric that say an Ann Coulter engages in. Is a policy for considering the possible outsourcing of some printing really closing down the GPO, locking the doors and denying folks freedom to governmental information?



    Inflated? Yes. Coulter level hyper-inflation? Never having read books by either, I'd have to guess no.



    Hypocritical? Maybe, but probably just normal bias.
  • Reply 7 of 24
    giantgiant Posts: 6,041member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trumptman

    As the article points out this would not affect archival of that information, nor would it close the government printing office.



    Wrong. There is no question that it would make it much more difficult for depositories to get documents. There is also no question that the GPO would be greatly reduced or even eliminated.



    Of course, because of protests from people like me who care about your ability to obtain information, some of this will be prevented. The GPO is one of those things that requires a constant fight to keep it in existence. The purpose of the GPO "is to inform the Nation by producing, procuring, and disseminating printed and electronic publications of the Congress as well as the executive departments and establishments of the Federal Government." Whether is is efficient or not, the purpose is to disseminate information. There is no legitimate reason to privatize GPO activities.



    The entire point of the GPO is to have dissemination of this information be centralized, so decentralizing it defeats the entire purpose.



    Quote:

    However I will concede this point, the printing office itself might not be the source of it's own inefficiency.



    You don't know anything about the GPO, so don't pretend you do. You have no contact with it and quite possibly have never been to a government depository. While it's certainly not a bad thing that this is the case, it's certainly a bit odd that you feel the need to feign authority on this topic.



    Quote:

    However back to the point, do you think Conason engaged in the sort of hyper-inflated political rhetoric that say an Ann Coulter engages in. Is a policy for considering the possible outsourcing of some printing really closing down the GPO, locking the doors and denying folks freedom to governmental information?



    Ann Coulter must be insane. The lies she puts in her book are beyond contortions. They are more ridiculous than can be described in any language I know. It would take a concentrated effort to top her in that.



    While I don't know anything about what Conason says anywhere else, his take on the GPO situation is a perfectly legitimate and important one. If Bill O'Reilly had made the statement, I'd say the same thing. If Coulter made the statement, I could have agreed, but also pointed out that it must have been chance that she actually said something that had some relationship with the real world.
  • Reply 8 of 24
    If you go to Salon.com... Joe addresses each issue spinsanity.org has with his book. And he admits a mistake ot two.



    Do you think Hannity or Coulter would ever admit to their... ahem... mistakes?



    If you've ever seen Joe on a TV... you will see that he treats everyone with respect does not interrupt and will actually listen to the otherside... and often agree with them... he is not anything like coulter or hannity... and if you read his book you would understand that.



    Have you read his book trumpt?
  • Reply 9 of 24
    Well I figure you won't read the book or go to Salon.com and read his response to spinsanity... so here it is.



    "Honest journalists freely admit -- as I must do from time to time in this space -- that they commit errors. Writing a book that contains thousands of facts, assertions and interpretations only increases the opportunities for error. The diligent author naturally strives to avoid all mistakes. The prudent author knows, especially if he or she is writing a polemical work, that others will soon be scouring the text in search of gaffes great and small.



    Yesterday, the Spinsanity Web site posted the results of Bryan Keefer's forensic examination of my new book "Big Lies." Keefer's findings were mixed. Whoever wrote the headline seems to have realized that he didn't discover anything major, since it refers to "little mistakes." He quickly exonerates me of any sins resembling those Spinsanity has charged against Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and Michael Moore. (Whew.) He even describes my work as "clear and compelling," at least sometimes.



    I appreciate all that, and I respect Spinsanity enough to praise and cite it in "Big Lies." And of course I understand that the Spinsanity crew might target my book in order to burnish their nonpartisan credentials. I think it's flattering to be held to "a high standard of truth." But this time they stretched to find enough "mistakes" to cobble together an article, and imposed an overarching thesis about my willingness to believe "questionable details" that fit my "ideological disposition."



    Still, I'm grateful that they discovered a few real (if small) errors that can now be corrected in future editions. Clearly, I should have broadened my Nexis search of Andrew Sullivan's writings sufficiently to find his single reference to Osama bin Laden (which appeared in a London Sunday Times column on the Lewinsky scandal, ironically proving my point). I ought to have searched more carefully to find the list of news organizations that retracted the Clinton/Ken Lay story. I wish I hadn't mistyped the dates and numbers concerning the coal mine fatalities and Texas child poverty rates, but those mistakes don't undermine the central arguments in those chapters at all.



    I could go on, arguing all the other instances. Instead I'll just address two examples that Keefer, in his zeal, distorted a bit.



    I would invite anyone to read the New York Times and Washington Post articles about George W. Bush's military record and see how their cursory reporting compares with the serious investigations published by the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning News. (One of the Post articles cited by Keefer is merely a Dallas Morning News feed, in fact.)



    As for the Government Printing Office issue, Keefer simply declares that the Bush administration's scheme posed no threat to that agency or to freedom of information. Better-informed people, including professional librarians and government watchdogs, would disagree vehemently with Keefer's casual assessment. (In part that's why the GPO's clearinghouse status was maintained in an agreement last June -- after my book went to press.) He's right that I omitted a citation in the notes, however.



    Had Keefer asked me for comment, I would have told him about a couple of other bloopers he missed, which have been nagging at me since readers pointed them out. On page 61, I promoted decorated Navy veteran John Kerry from lieutenant to captain; and on page 67 I awarded Bob Kerrey's Medal of Honor to Max Cleland, who won other medals after losing his legs and right arm. My argument about those brave men and the conservatives who denigrate their patriotism remains the same."
  • Reply 10 of 24
    Quote:

    Originally posted by chu_bakka

    Well I figure you won't read the book or go to Salon.com and read his response to spinsanity... so here it is.



    "Honest journalists freely admit -- as I must do from time to time in this space -- that they commit errors. Writing a book that contains thousands of facts, assertions and interpretations only increases the opportunities for error. The diligent author naturally strives to avoid all mistakes. The prudent author knows, especially if he or she is writing a polemical work, that others will soon be scouring the text in search of gaffes great and small.



    Yesterday, the Spinsanity Web site posted the results of Bryan Keefer's forensic examination of my new book "Big Lies." Keefer's findings were mixed. Whoever wrote the headline seems to have realized that he didn't discover anything major, since it refers to "little mistakes." He quickly exonerates me of any sins resembling those Spinsanity has charged against Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and Michael Moore. (Whew.) He even describes my work as "clear and compelling," at least sometimes.



    I appreciate all that, and I respect Spinsanity enough to praise and cite it in "Big Lies." And of course I understand that the Spinsanity crew might target my book in order to burnish their nonpartisan credentials. I think it's flattering to be held to "a high standard of truth." But this time they stretched to find enough "mistakes" to cobble together an article, and imposed an overarching thesis about my willingness to believe "questionable details" that fit my "ideological disposition."



    Still, I'm grateful that they discovered a few real (if small) errors that can now be corrected in future editions. Clearly, I should have broadened my Nexis search of Andrew Sullivan's writings sufficiently to find his single reference to Osama bin Laden (which appeared in a London Sunday Times column on the Lewinsky scandal, ironically proving my point). I ought to have searched more carefully to find the list of news organizations that retracted the Clinton/Ken Lay story. I wish I hadn't mistyped the dates and numbers concerning the coal mine fatalities and Texas child poverty rates, but those mistakes don't undermine the central arguments in those chapters at all.



    I could go on, arguing all the other instances. Instead I'll just address two examples that Keefer, in his zeal, distorted a bit.



    I would invite anyone to read the New York Times and Washington Post articles about George W. Bush's military record and see how their cursory reporting compares with the serious investigations published by the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning News. (One of the Post articles cited by Keefer is merely a Dallas Morning News feed, in fact.)



    As for the Government Printing Office issue, Keefer simply declares that the Bush administration's scheme posed no threat to that agency or to freedom of information. Better-informed people, including professional librarians and government watchdogs, would disagree vehemently with Keefer's casual assessment. (In part that's why the GPO's clearinghouse status was maintained in an agreement last June -- after my book went to press.) He's right that I omitted a citation in the notes, however.



    Had Keefer asked me for comment, I would have told him about a couple of other bloopers he missed, which have been nagging at me since readers pointed them out. On page 61, I promoted decorated Navy veteran John Kerry from lieutenant to captain; and on page 67 I awarded Bob Kerrey's Medal of Honor to Max Cleland, who won other medals after losing his legs and right arm. My argument about those brave men and the conservatives who denigrate their patriotism remains the same."




    Good for Conason to be so forthcoming. I would probably be a little easier on Hannity and Coulter if they had the same level of class.
  • Reply 11 of 24
    Well... Coulter and Hannity know exactly what they're doing... lying... it's not a matter of class... they're making sh!t up as they go along, they can't admit to that.
  • Reply 12 of 24
    Trumptman: I find it amusing that - in your zeal to expose possible intellectual dishonesty on behalf of Joe Conason - you reference a spinsanity article entitled 'Big Lies and little mistakes' in a thread entitled 'Big Lies, Big Errors...'



    Spin?



    Edit: spelling
  • Reply 13 of 24
    Oh that's right Scott... if you oppose the president you're anti-american and unpatriotic.



    And neither Scott or Trumpt have read the book so I don't know how they could claim Joe Conason is lying.



    I have read the book. And the spinsanity article. And the "mistakes" as even they called them are rare in his book. Which is indepth and detailed. He dismantles the trashtalking the conservatives have been leveling against liberals for 20 years and points out many conservatives hypocrisy.



    And... he does not label all conservatives and republicans as liars or frauds... he goes after those most ripe for picking.
  • Reply 14 of 24
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,454member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by chu_bakka

    If you go to Salon.com... Joe addresses each issue spinsanity.org has with his book. And he admits a mistake ot two.



    Do you think Hannity or Coulter would ever admit to their... ahem... mistakes?



    If you've ever seen Joe on a TV... you will see that he treats everyone with respect does not interrupt and will actually listen to the otherside... and often agree with them... he is not anything like coulter or hannity... and if you read his book you would understand that.



    Have you read his book trumpt?




    I haven't seen Joe on TV because I don't watch cable news. If you mention a channel he is likely to be on, I will make an attempt to scan that channel periodically.



    I haven't read his book. However I also haven't read the Hannity, Coulter, or O'Reily book either.



    As for whether they admit to their mistakes, I don't know.



    However I don't have to read the book to know whether the material is accurate or not. There are people that need to fill airtime/webspace and will do that for me. I suppose I couldn't believe what Arnold said in Oui because the news about it comes from a secondary source.



    Speaking of which how can you believe Conason? By your logic he is totally invalid. He didn't generate the news. He didn't even report it. He comments on issues just like the other pundits you bash. He uses almost nothing but secondary sources and is himself a secondary source.



    Talk about your double standards,



    Nick
  • Reply 15 of 24
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,454member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by kneelbeforezod

    Trumptman: I find it amusing that - in your zeal to expose possible intellectual dishonesty on behalf of Joe Conason - you reference a spinsanity article entitled 'Big Lies and little mistakes' in a thread entitled 'Big Lies, Big Errors...'



    Spin?



    Edit: spelling




    Well I don't know about your neck of the woods, but by my measure if I claimed 70% instead of 31%, I would call that error large. He calls it "mistyped." This rings so true to me since he "mistyped" both the hispanic and black poverty rates. Two typo's... wow, and the 7 is so close to the 3 as well.



    Spinsanity is a liberal news source. The blog from Conason notes that they likely went after him to boost their nonpartisan credentials since the target of the large percentage of their articles are conservatives.



    So Spinsanity calls it a little error, I call it big. They bought his line of it being a repeated typo, I don't.



    Like with giant and the GPO, outsourcing doesn't equal no archival, no access, etc. Just like with vouchers doesn't equal destruction of all public schools. People with very strong opinions that even override reason will claim that sort of thing. The rest of us know better.



    Nick
  • Reply 16 of 24
    What do you think reporting is? He did research... interviews... if someone points out a mistakes he rectifies it...



    Many of his points are just obvious fact. Not like the Whitewater conspiracies that went nowhere.



    Fact. The Christian Coaltion gives scores to Republican's rating them at 100... many of these same politician's had affairs and left their wives... and some of them even retained their perfect 100 scores... it's stuff like that he points out when disproving the right-wing's claim that they are morally superior.



    However... Joe Conason doesn't claim that democrats have cornered the market on morality or "just" thinking.
  • Reply 17 of 24
    giantgiant Posts: 6,041member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trumptman

    the target of the large percentage of their articles are conservatives.



    Of course. If you wanted to expose blatant lies, where better to look?

    Quote:

    Like with giant and the GPO, outsourcing doesn't equal no archival, no access, etc...The rest of us know better.



    Trumptman, you are so completely out of your gourd.



    The relevant issues are not the same. 1. Decentralization of the GPO by it's very nature destroys the entire purpose of the GPO. 2. Decentralization will make the depository program impossible. No if, ands or buts about it. This is why the agreement was made in june.



    In short, your comparison completely misses that the central issues in the voucher and GPO situations are completely and utterly different. As such, it is crystal clear that you have absolutely no clue what you are talking about whatsoever.



    As both Conanson & I pointed out (I will use his words): "Better-informed people, including professional librarians and government watchdogs, would disagree vehemently with Keefer's casual assessment. (In part that's why the GPO's clearinghouse status was maintained in an agreement last June -- after my book went to press.)"



    It's really sad that you are so insecure that feel the need to feign authority on everything and anything under the sun, up to and including things that you have ZERO contact with.
  • Reply 18 of 24
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trumptman

    Like with giant and the GPO, outsourcing doesn't equal no archival, no access, etc. Just like with vouchers doesn't equal destruction of all public schools.



    If I may interject, I would say that in both cases it equals 'less,' and not 'no.' But neither is acceptable.
  • Reply 19 of 24
    giantgiant Posts: 6,041member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by bunge

    If I may interject, I would say that in both cases it equals 'less,' and not 'no.' But neither is acceptable.



    Privitizing and decentralizing GPO activities is like putting a popsicle in the oven.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trumptman

    So Spinsanity calls it a little error, I call it big. They bought his line of it being a repeated typo, I don't.





    Waitasecond...you admit that you deliberately misquoted your source, re-interpreting their findings without replicating any of the research just so you could have a better fit with your personal agenda? Don't you find this even remotely ironic, particularly within the context of the point you were trying to make?
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