One of the last things I did in 2009 was to lament the awesome stupidity of a press corps that seemed unable to do even basic fact-checking, such as using available resources to test contentions like: "Did President Barack Obama stop using the word 'terror' or 'terrorism'?" Peter King told this lie, successfully, to CNN because apparently no one at CNN has access to a computer or a television or even has a teensy bit of electrical current running through the wet membranes found in their cranial cavity.
I was able to use this thing called Google to demonstrate that King was not telling the truth when he said, "Even when the president gave his speech at West Point about the troops going to Afghanistan, he didn't use the word 'terrorism'." It's no big deal. I didn't think I deserved a medal for journalistic excellence, at the time. But I'm starting to revise that belief now that it's 2010 and Greg Sargent has a piece up at the Plum Line documenting how Jim DeMint played all sorts of journalists for fools in a similar fashion over the weekend:
CNN let Senator Jim DeMint come on the network yesterday and claim, without any fact-checking, that Obama doesn't use the word "terror," which DeMint cited as proof of the President's lackluster approach to keeping us safe:
DEMINT: There's no question that the president has down-played the risk of terror since he took office. He is investigating the CIA, rather than build them up.
GLORIA BORGER: How has he -- Senator DeMint, how -- how has he down-played the risk of terror?
DEMINT: Well, it begins with not even being willing to use the word.
BORGER: Well, aside from the semantics, aside from that.
Again, in about15 seconds, you can go to the White House's website, click "Briefing Room", click "Speeches and Remarks", select the first entry, which is titled, "Statement by the President on Preliminary Information from his Ongoing Consultation about the Detroit Incident" and then see the very first paragraph, which reads:
Good morning. Yesterday I updated the American people on the immediate steps we took -- the increased screening and security of air travel -- to keep our country safe in the wake of the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day. And I announced two reviews -- a review of our terrorist watch list system and a review of our air travel screening, so we can find out what went wrong, fix it and prevent future attacks.
You can also see that Obama used some form of the word "terrorism" three additional times.
This is not hard. Yet, the record shows that today, Gloria Borger, Politico's Harry Siegel, The Hill's Tony Romm, MSNBC's First Read, CBS News's Daniel Carty, and MSNBC's "Morning Joe" all failed to do even this minimal amount of journalism.
Everyone I've named needs to follow these instructions:
Anytime anyone claims that a public figure -- whose every important statement, by the way, is cataloged on a single online source -- never said a certain word, CHECK. Take the 60 seconds and check. Eventually, you will find out that the people telling you this nonsense are either uninformed or misleading you, and you'll just stop reporting it or allowing the claim to be made. A few of you -- the really astute ones, the ones who have fully developed cognitively -- may even realize, "Hey! This battling back and forth over vocabulary words is actually a terribly stupid, superficial matter, anyway.
Wow. 2010 is not off to a great start!