Saturday, August 23, 2008

His master's voice

Didn't take long for word to filter down to Bill Sammon at Fox, did it?

Biden's embellishments could
provide easy fodder for GOP

When Joe Biden claimed at a Democratic debate last year that he had been “shot at” while visiting Baghdad’s Green Zone, the press didn’t bother to check it out, since Biden’s White House bid seemed unlikely to succeed.

But now that he has been catapulted into contention by virtue of being selected as Barack Obama’s running mate, Biden and such bullet-dodging tales may be subjected to a level of scrutiny that tripped up Hillary Clinton when she falsely claimed to have come under sniper fire in Bosnia. (Enough with "may" there, Bill. Have we started the said subjecting yet?)

And Republicans would have a litany of apparent inconsistencies and embellishments to pick through. (Got your scorecards ready? "Litany" is the column right after "total points.")

For example, Biden claimed in 2006 that he chided President Bush in a private conversation.

... His Democratic audience cheered appreciatively, but a close Bush confidante told FOX News on Saturday: “That conversation never happened.” (Well, that settles that!)

On the same show, Biden claimed to have once told a colleague: “Were we not senators, I’d rip your goddamn Adam’s apple out.”

Although he did not name the other senator, Biden’s graphic imagery caused some to wonder about his temperament. (Which is an "embellishment" issue exactly -- how?)

Biden also used unusually strong language to ridicule those who believe in creationism or intelligent design. (Which is an "inconsistency" issue exactly how?)

“I refuse to believe the majority of people believe this malarkey!” the senior senator from Delaware exclaimed. (Dagnabbit! Were you too hoping for something more in the way of "unusually strong"?)

But less than six months earlier, CBS News conducted a poll that found a majority of Americans (51 percent) do believe that God created humans in their present form. (And misoverestimating public opinion has ... what again to do with embellishment?) Even larger majorities reject the theory of evolution, according to the poll. (Except the two-thirds who, "according to the poll,"* seem to think it's fine to believe in God and evolution at the same time.)

Still waiting for the litany?** Well, have a nice wait. While you're waiting, have a look over the transcript from the Bill Maher show in question, on which Biden appears with -- wow, could it be with some journalist named Bill Sammon of the Washington Examiner, whose main purpose seemed to be hauling water for the Bush administration on matters like intelligent design and charging the New York Times with treason? And could all three embellishments and inconsistencies really come from the same show?***

Bear in mind a fairly important distinction in the world of journalism: Some organizations generally try to get stuff right and occasionally screw up. (OK, some of them actually screw up more than "occasionally.") Other organizations lie routinely, deliberately and enthusiastically as a matter of policy. Figured out yet which camp Fox falls into?

* Hard to tell much from the report at, which makes the NYT look like serious, cautious pros at the art of handling survey stats.
** Maybe it comes after the offertory. Goshdarn liberals!
*** If you're interested, here's how the "goddamn Adam's apple" quote appears in the transcript:
"I’ll give you a very quick story. My mother, God love her, very smart woman. Eighty-nine years old. Lives with me. Good health. My mother says a rosary every Sunday at Mass when we go to Mass, for her deceased brother Ambrose, who died in New Guinea, and the body was never recovered. I said to one of my senior – one of my colleagues who is a very sophisticated guy, when we got in an argument – I said, “Okay, Charlie, this is what my mother…what do you think of that” And he looked at me and said, “I think that’s quaint.” And I said, “Were you not – were we not senators, I’d rip your goddamn Adam’s apple out, because who the hell are you to look at my mother and say it’s ‘quaint’?” We have too many elites in our party who look down their nose on people of faith. The people of faith don’t want us to share their view. They just want to know we respect them. We respect them."



Blogger Wesley said...

Thanks for the detailed response. I had missed the fact that Sammon's entire essay (itself much more amenable to the description "embellishment" than anything he could document of Biden's) came from the Bill Maher show encounter. I came to it from the mention of "intelligent design" in Sammon's article. My take is here.

Wesley R. Elsberry

4:08 PM, August 24, 2008  
Blogger fev said...

And thank you for the visit and the link. My compliments on your post, and the hawk pictures are delightful as well.

11:00 PM, August 24, 2008  
Anonymous Tim said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:48 PM, September 16, 2008  
Blogger fev said...

Ahem. HEADSUP-L is generally open-minded on the comments front. Porn merchants (that'll be you, "Tim"), though, will take their business elsewhere or be deleted.

7:48 PM, September 16, 2008  
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