Journalistic Malpractice

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Early this morning (just before 1:00 a.m.), I posted video of Debbie Wasserman Schultz ruling “out of order” a motion at the DNC meeting in Mineapolis to put the DNC on record as supporting the Iran deal negotiated by the Obama Administration. I posted it at the time to highlight the rejection of a motion to expand the debate calendar, which was rejected at precisely the same time, as was a third, unrelated motion. But in that same 7:30 video DWS also rejects the Iran deal motion as well.

The video was from C-SPAN, but the 7:30 chunk that I linked to was posted to YouTube yesterday. A 40 second video, limited just to DWS’ comments on the debate schedule, was what originally attracted my attention. It was posted by a C-SPAN user to the C-SPAN site on Friday. So anyone who was paying attention knew by Friday night that there were three motions offered, and that DWS had rejected all of them. Anyone who was at the meeting certainly knew as well.

WordPress will only let me embed videos from a small number of sources, such as YouTube and Twitter and a few others I don’t generally look at. So I couldn’t embed the C-SPAN video. I went looking on YouTube and found the 7:30 version, which was posted yesterday. It covers DWS personally rejecting all three motions.

Yesterday, the Post published a story at 2:39 p.m. about DWS rejecting the Iran deal motion. The problem with the story is that it’s not really a story, as there was at least one video that makes the rejection clear, yet the Post is relying on “knowledgeable Democrats.” Very hush hush, very Woodward and Bernstein.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz prevented consideration of a resolution at the party’s summer meeting here that praised President Obama and offered backing for the nuclear agreement with Iran, according to knowledgeable Democrats.

The resolution was drafted with the intention of putting the national committee on record in support of the agreement as Congress prepares to take up the issue when members return from their August recess.

Why not just say “hey we were there, we saw it, here’s what happened and C-SPAN has the whole thing”? Did the Post have nobody at the meeting? All the candidates addressed the DNC on Friday, including Martin O’Malley’s blistering takedown of the debate schedule. Why the need to cite anonymous sources when the whole thing was there on video?

Even worse, despite failing to use the video, the Post actually went and asked the DNC about DWS’ role.

A party spokeswoman and said procedural issues prevented the proposed resolution from being considered. She did not directly address Wasserman Schultz’s role in the decision-making. Other Democrats said that it was congresswoman’s direct opposition that blocked its consideration.

“On the one hand, on the other hand.” There’s a video that clears it up. Of a public meeting. If you didn’t have someone there, that’s pathetic. If you did, you’d think that the DNC chair rejecting a motion to support a Democratic president’s most significant foreign policy achievement might be news? Something to remember? No?

Less then an hour later, the Hill followed up with a “story” which just parroted the Post version.

 Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz blocked consideration of a resolution at the party’s summer meeting that would have praised President Obama and backed the his nuclear deal with Iran, The Washington Post reported Saturday, citing unnamed sources.

Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who is Jewish, has not yet publicly said what she thinks of the nuclear deal and how she intends to vote when Congress considers it in September.
A DNC spokesperson said procedural issues blocked consideration of the resolution at the Minneapolis meeting, according to the report. The spokeswoman didn’t address Wasserman Schultz’s role.

24 hours later, both stories remain intact, neither reference the video. Argh. Time to unlimber the Rant Machine.

I’m sorry, but what the hell are you doing calling the DNC? There’s a seven and a half minute video of DWS that shows precisely the role she played. She shot the motion down PERSONALLY. On VIDEO. That’s on the INTERNET. On freaking YOUTUBE. And presumably, you had one or more reporters ACTUALLY THERE WHEN IT HAPPENED. And all you could do to try to update the story was CALL THE DNC AND ASK THEM WHAT HAPPENED? Hell, the Hill reporter could have come to my little blog anytime after 12:57 a.m. this morning and seen the video in all its glory.

Deep breath. Into a paper bag. OK, I’m good now. I feel much better.

Neither story is updated, it’s all still presented as if it happened in the dark of night when it actually occurred in a public session with video cameras. The correct storyline is “Here’s video of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz rejecting three motions from the floor, one on the Iran deal and one on the debate schedule.” Get some reactions from whoever your go-to folks are, and there’s the story. No unnamed sources, no DNC spokesman, just some actual evidence that makes the story real and allows readers to judge the story for themselves by watching the thing actually happen.

Is that too much to expect from two pillars of political journalism? Apparently so.

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