Friday, September 17, 2004

Kerry Photos

Kevin Drum quotes a New Republic article here:
Telis Demos makes a point in the New Republic today that can't be made often enough. Even if you believe that Dan Rather got duped into airing a lie (that the Killian memos were real), he's got plenty of company:
If this last offense sounds familiar, it's because the right-wing media does it all the time. In February 2004, for instance, Fox News broadcasters Brit Hume, Sean Hannity, and John Gibson all showed a photo of John Kerry standing next to Jane Fonda on a podium at an anti-Vietnam War rally in the 1970s. It turns out the photo was fake. Did hordes of media critics demand retractions from Hume, Hannity, and Gibson? Of course not.
It's perfectly correct for the mainstream media to hold Dan Rather to high standards, but why don't they do the same for Fox's parade of serial liars? Opinion journalist or not, fake is fake. There's no reason Hannity & Co. should have been allowed to get away with this.
I haven't seen all the video footage from Fox News from February 2004, but I did a quick search of LEXIS for the terms "kerry" and "fonda" and (photo or photograph or picture). The Fox News transcripts from early 2004 suggest that Drum and the New Republic are completely off-base here. Here's the transcript from Fox News Sunday on February 15, 2004:
Chris Wallace:

And I want to show you some fascinating pictures. Let's put up the first one, if we can. There is a picture of Jane Fonda, a famous anti-war activist, in the foreground. And way back in the back, fuzzy, no sign that they were anywhere close together -- and I must say, two years before Jane Fonda actually went to Hanoi and became Hanoi Jane -- at a rally. And this was put out as some indication that they were in lock step.

And then, when that sort of fell flat, another picture was seen on the Internet showing, well, they're not now far apart, they're actually right together on the podium, John Kerry and Jane Fonda. There is only one problem with that picture, it was a fake. Jane Fonda was digitally added. The photo agency that owns the picture says this is the original, John Kerry by himself.
In other words, Chris Wallace of Fox News told the audience correctly that this photo was a fabrication, while this photo was accurate.

The transcripts are similar throughout February and March. On February 11, Sean Hannity said this: "If you could look at our screen, I have a picture. Here's Jane Fonda, and then just over the top of her head you can see in the background there on the left side of people's screen you can see John Kerry." This is obviously referring to the genuine photo. Hannity also referred to the genuine photo on the Feb. 12 broadcast.

As for John Gibson, the only relevant transcript that showed up was from Feb. 13, where he said this: "[B]y the way, we're looking at this picture of Jane Fonda in the foreground and John Kerry in the deep background kind of out of focus from one of these anti-war rallies. There's two guys next to Jane Fonda." Again, clearly a reference to the genuine photo.

Meanwhile, numerous Fox figures referred to the second photo as fake. On Feb. 17, Mara Liasson referred to "doctored photographs of John Kerry and Jane Fonda." (She said nearly the same phrase on March 11). On Feb. 24, Alan Colmes spoke of "phonied up pictures of Fonda and Kerry together." On March 10, Carl Cameron referred to "doctored photos of Kerry with Jane Fonda on the Internet." Indeed, Brit Hume explicitly told Fox viewers that the first photo was "fake" in a Feb. 23 broadcast:
HUME: Finally tonight, the Kerry campaign, as you've heard, is claiming that what they're calling "the Republican attack machine" is making unwarranted personal attacks on him. And the Kerry campaign has released the evidence to back that up. It was on TV.


BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME": This is the real picture, right. And then -- this is the one that appeared on the web site. They put him in with Jane Fonda. and this is just the beginning. I have some other ones here that I want to show you that they have doctored up.


HUME: Folks, they're all fake and it's a joke.
Conclusion: I could find no evidence whatsoever that Fox News' personnel (in particular, Hume, Gibson, Hannity) presented the fake photo as if it were real. Quite the opposite: each one of them either referred to the one accurate photo, or actually pointed out that the doctored photo was "fake," to quote Brit Hume.

This is indeed a marked contrast to CBS News's attitude towards faked materials, but the contrast does not favor CBS.

UPDATE: As a commenter points out, you would expect TNR to be especially sure to fact-check an article that accuses another news source of misrepresentation. (Plus, hasn't TNR learned a lesson by now from its extensive history of fabricated reporting?)

SECOND UPDATE: Kevin Drum has now updated his original post to link to this one.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a real example of Fox News making
stuff up.

O'REILLY: ...there will be a boycott of your country which will hurt your country enormously. France is now feeling that sting. Because Americans believe that freedom of speech is great. Disagreement we respect, but if you start to undermine our war against terrorists, even if you disagree with it -- again, we respect disagreement, if you start to undermine it, then Americans are going to take action. Are you willing to accept that boycott which will hurt your economy drastically?

MALLICK: I don't think for a moment such a boycott would take place because we are your biggest trading partners.

O'REILLY: No, it will take place, madam. In France...

MALLICK: I don' think that your French boycott has done to well...

O'REILLY: ...they've lost billions of dollars in France according to "The Paris Business Review."

MALLICK: I think that's nonsense.

O'REILLY: And it will -- if you harbor these men, there will be a nationwide boycott. Now not every American will participate, but enough to put your country into a recession.

MALLICK: Your economy is already going into a recession.

There is no "The Paris Business Review"

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't remember, is O'Reilly a news reporter or a talk show host loud mouth? So I just looked it show host. This would be like Oprah getting her facts wrong. I don't think she "reports" "news" either.

Just a thought.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


8:57 AM  
Blogger Bruce Rheinstein said...

I'm not going to defend Bill O'Reilly. I don't watch his show, and for all I know he may very well make stuff up. But the boycott did have a significant, albeit probably short-term, impact. According to financial columnist and Club for Growth President, Stephen Moore:The short-term impact of the boycott against the French was devastating to key French industries. According to a report by the trade publication Wine Spectator, French wine sales fell by 26 percent in the first three months of the boycott and the global share of wine sales by France for the first half of 2003 plummeted by half. A poll by the French Luxury Marketing Council discovered that nearly 4 out of every 10 wealthy Americans were swearing off French goods.

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised that TNR comments on FoxNews without actually watching it. Like Bette Midler howling about how terrible Rush Limbaugh's show is, but when asked if she ever listens - "No, never."

9:44 AM  
Blogger Monkey said...

This really should be embarassing for TNR. When you're writing a hit piece on Fox which uses the hook of Dan Rather presenting inaccurate data, shouldn't you get your own facts right? It's no "Shattered Glass" scenario but when all you have to do is a Lexis/Nexis search to find out the truth, what's the propblem?

Really, it's cut from the same cloth as "Danron": the reporter "knows" what's really true, so why bother to do more legwork when it could only produce information that undercuts his hinch/gripe.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Tim said...


If O'Reilly ws making stuff up, does that mean you think that it is ok for both O'Reilly and Rather to make stuff up and should remain on the air, or both should be fired?

11:08 AM  
Blogger Merat said...

I wonder if Mr. O'Reilly meant "Revue Economique" published in Paris. Could someone who understands French check out this journal to see if there is an article on this in the time frame?

11:26 AM  
Blogger n* said...

Umm, the reason French exports fell at about the same time was because the Euro appreciated against the dollar, making European goods more expensive for American consumers by about 20%.

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't CBS admit they've been researching this story for some four years now?

BTW. I don't watch OReilly but we have been boycotting anything "Made in France" A friend even got Pirelli's instead of the Michelin's she would usually prefer. I believe there is a significant number of Americans who do vote with their dollars.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Roundguy said...

You foil hat wearers may want to visit this site. O'Reilly didn't lie:

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, Roundguy, that site is a satire. Too bad, I thought for once a liberal would admit to being wrong.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roundguy, did you seriously think that site was authentic? And if you did, did you also think it looked like something worth quoting in a serious discussion?
...just curious...

8:47 AM  

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