Tuesday, October 02, 2001

BLOG would be a nice abbreviation for backlog. I'll try to present my dated material in chronological order and, to avoid that Larry King feel, one item at a time.

It used to be that you could trust the conventions of urban legends. A too-good-to-be-true story would pop up, then it would be debunked. Lately, however, there have been at least two examples of the debunking apparatus knocking down true stories. Is this yet another example of how Sept. 11 has changed things?

First there was the infamous list of songs that Clear Channel Communications radio stations weren't supposed to play. The urban-legend-bashing Web site Snopes.com, in an unbecoming little bit of rhetorical trickery, twisted the premise so it could label FALSE a claim that "Clear Channel Communications banned their American radio stations from playing specified songs in order to avoid offending listeners." OK, so people misspoke when passing the story along and made it a "ban." It wasn't a ban; stations that didn't follow it would not face nuclear retaliation. But the advisory list was quite real, and the real story is Clear Channel's Condit-like attempt to deny it. The Snopes people should be ashamed: Fiddle with the wording of any claim and it's easy to slap a FALSE label on it.

But that's nothing compared with the Peter Jennings fiasco.

Jennings came under some harsh criticism for comments he made about President Bush while covering the Sept. 11 attacks for ABC-TV. A liberal Web site called Democratic Underground quotes Rush Limbaugh as saying: "Little Peter couldn't understand why George Bush didn't address the nation sooner than he did and even made snide comments like 'Well, some presidents are just better at it than others' and 'Maybe it's wise that certain presidents just not try to address the people of the country.' "

He said no such thing, according to Democratic Underground -- and my Washington Post colleague Howard Kurtz. The debunkers even persuaded Limbaugh to retract his statements, Kurtz reported.

Well, sorry to debunk the debunkers, but yes, he did say such things. I heard him.

I'm neither a conservative nor a consumer of nightly network news, and I've always been amused by the former's comments about the latter. I know that the TV people take all sorts of liberties that print journalists would consider way over the line in the editorializing department, but I never believed in a Rather-Brokaw-Jennings plot against conservatives.

But I didn't need Rush Limbaugh to tell me that Peter Jennings was nearly foaming at the mouth in his criticism of George W. Bush on that sad day. I was incredulous as I heard that Canadian gentleman rant about the American president. I don't even like Bush (and I'm quite fond of Canada and Canadians), but I was screaming "Go back to Saskatchewan!" at the TV screen. Limbaugh's quote might not be word for word, but the substance is precisely what I heard on Sept. 11.

You'd think somebody would have a tape to settle this.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com