Friday, October 17, 2008

Two “kill him” reports: one misreported; the other unfounded

Tracking the truth regarding those “kill him” claims we’re heard so much about this week reveals how much bungling, lazy and biased MSM “reporting” there is out there, along with some careful, truth-seeking, fact-based journalism.

Via AMac I learned of Patterico’s post: Nobody Yelled “Kill Him” About Obama at a McCain or Palin Rally

Here’s part of what he posted Tuesday, Oct. 14 - - -

Everyone in the country seems to think someone yelled “Kill him!” at a McCain/Palin rally, about Barack Obama. It’s just not true.

The “Kill him!” phrase was originally reported by the Washingon Post — and it was clearly yelled about William Ayers and not Barack Obama.

I quoted the relevant language in this post:

“And, according to the New York Times, he [referring to Ayers -- P] was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, ‘launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,’” [Palin] continued.

“Boooo!” the crowd repeated.

“Kill him!” proposed one man in the audience.

That is unambiguously a call to kill Ayers, not Obama. As TNR writer Michael Crowley said in a comment to this post of his (h/t L.N. Smithee):

I took “kill him” to mean Ayers–not Obama. It’s just a far, far likelier explanation given the context. That’s still an ugly thing to shout–but on the other hand Ayers probably would have gotten the death penalty had his bombs actually taken a life. If I thought people were actually yelling that about Obama I would feel very differently.

Indeed. [UPDATE: Dana Milbank, who originally reported this, agreed. According to a Politico blog entry: "Milbank said that his impression was that the man meant Ayers, not Obama." Thanks to "no one you know."]

And yet outlets across the country are reporting that the man yelled “Kill him!” about Obama. For example, the New York Times reported:

Crowds in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have repeatedly booed Mr. Obama and yelled “off with his head,” and at a rally in Florida where Ms. Palin appeared without Mr. McCain, The Washington Post reported that a man yelled out “kill him. …

The rest of Patterico’s posts here.

Folks, I checked Patterico’s links including Millbank’s WaPo report. It reads exactly as Patterico reported it. So do his other links.

So much for the Florida misreported “kill him” claim.

Now to Scranton, Pennsylvania where on Oct. 14 a “kill him” claim the Secret Service says is unfounded surfaced at The Scranton Times-Tribune.

According to Times-Tribune reporter David Singleton:

There were no incendiary outbursts from the crowd about Mr. Obama during Mrs. Palin's speech, as there have been during other recent McCain-Palin rallies.

However, someone did shout out, "Kill him!" during Republican congressional candidate Chris Hackett's remarks before Mrs. Palin took the stage.
Although none of the Secret Service agents at the rally, many public safety officers or anyone in the crowd heard the remark, reporter Singleton and the Scranton Times are standing by the story.

The Wilkes- Barre Times Leader did some follow-up reporting. Yesterday, Oct. 16, in a story headlined - Secret Service says "Kill him" allegation unfoundedthe paper reported (all emphases added):

The agent in charge of the Secret Service field office in Scranton said allegations that someone yelled “kill him” when presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s name was mentioned during Tuesday’s Sarah Palin rally are unfounded.

The Scranton Times-Tribune first reported the alleged incident on its Web site Tuesday and then again in its print edition Wednesday. The first story, written by reporter David Singleton, appeared with allegations that while congressional candidate Chris Hackett was addressing the crowd and mentioned Obama’s name a man in the audience shouted “kill him." …

Agent Bill Slavoski said he was in the audience, along with an undisclosed number of additional secret service agents and other law enforcement officers and not one heard the comment.

“I was baffled,” he said after reading the report in Wednesday’s Times-Tribune.

He said the agency conducted an investigation Wednesday, after seeing the story, and could not find one person to corroborate the allegation other than Singleton.

Slavoski said more than 20 non-security agents were interviewed Wednesday, from news media to ordinary citizens in attendance at the rally for the Republican vice presidential candidate held at the Riverfront Sports Complex. He said Singleton was the only one to say he heard someone yell “kill him.”

“We have yet to find someone to back up the story,” Slavoski said. “We had people all over and we have yet to find anyone who said they heard it.”

Hackett said he did not hear the remark.

Slavoski said Singleton was interviewed Wednesday and stood by his story but couldn’t give a description of the man because he didn’t see him he only heard him.

When contacted Wednesday afternoon, Singleton referred questions to Times-Tribune Metro Editor Jeff Sonderman. Sonderman said, “We stand by the story. The facts reported are true and that’s really all there is.” …

The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader story included this - - -

News organizations including ABC, The Associated Press, The Washington Monthly and MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann reported the claim, with most attributing the allegations to the Times-Tribune story.

Folks, if you’ve seen any of those news orgs issue prominent corrections/clarifications concerning the Scranton Times-Leader’s unfounded story or even tiny ones they favor on those all too rare times they’re willing to admit errors, please let me know.

In the meantime, hats off to Times Leader for careful, truth-seeking, fact-based journalism.

I’ll post again tomorrow on this story.

The Scranton Times' story's here; the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader's story's here.


Archer05 said...

Neb. Gov. asks university to cancel Ayers’ talk

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) —
Gov. Dave Heineman has called on University of Nebraska officials to tell 1960s and ’70s radical William Ayers, a central figure in the U.S. presidential campaign, not to speak at the university next month……
…the University should immediately rescind the invitation to Ayers, calling it an embarrassment to the university and the state.
I hope Ayers is disinvited to speak. A terrorist has no business talking to college students now or ever. How he is a professor anywhere? He is a disgusting being in my opinion. The Gang of 88 have a lot of kin.

Anonymous said...

John: Check out the latest twist on the Rezko-Obama land deal in The Washington Times today. Looks like there's a whistleblower involved. Sorry I don't have time to give more detail--gotta run
Tarheel Hawkeye

Archer05 said...

Ayers Speaking Update:

It seems ‘The Wackily Idealistic Bomber’ will not be speaking in Nebraska after all. The state college says they received angry e-mails that caused safety concerns. However, it is reported that several groups informed the college they would cease all funding if Ayers spoke now or ever! Money still talks, and insiders say the liberal radicals that arranged the speaking engagement are in a snit, a Marxist SNIT.

There is a Internet list of academics supporting Ayers. The upstanding educators say the treatment of Ayers is, “Slanderous McCarthyism,” Which given the current opinion thuggery is hilarious. I will tract the list for Duke’s Gang of 88 supporters. I can guess who will sign the support petition. Perhaps the same ones that supported Ward Churchill.

Read the list and weep for America.