New York Times Spins Fast And Furious Document Dump In Favor Of DOJ


Here’s The New York Times headline:

Justice Department Counters Claim That It Misled Congress in Gun Inquiry

Here’s the original AP headline the media outlets used, including MSNBC:

Justice Dept. details how it got statements wrong

The NYT headline makes it appear the DOJ admits absolutely no wrong doing. However, in the AP headline the DOJ admits they were wrong, but offer an explanation.

If Charlie Savage is going to write an original story he could at least use a headline that doesn’t dupe the readers? But the headline isn’t the only bad part of the article. The whole article is completely soft on the DOJ and the tone is off, almost as if Mr. Savage is unconcerned that this operation has taken the life of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and 200+ Mexican civilians. At least Pete Yost, author of the AP article, reported the facts of these emails, didn’t add in any of his opinions, and gave detailed information of the emails.

Here is a snippet of Mr. Savage’s description of the emails. [Bold my emphasis]

The letter, which rejected early accusations of wrongdoing in Fast and Furious, told lawmakers that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”

Officials now acknowledge that the claim was misleading.

Here is the snippet from Mr. Yost’s article (bold my emphasis):

In a letter last February to Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department said that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had not sanctioned the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser and that the agency makes every effort to intercept weapons that have been purchased illegally. In Operation Fast and Furious, both statements turned out to be incorrect.

Mr. Savage says misleading and Mr. Yost says incorrect. Misleading could be technically true, but be presented in a way that would make you think the opposite. Incorrect means not correct, plain and simple. By using the word misleading Mr. Savage misleads his readers.

Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general, and Jason Weinstein, one of Mr. Breuer’s deputies, are the only ones to be mentioned, which is a shame. The emails show then-US Attorney Dennis Burke had a major role. Mr. Savage says, “Many of the 1,400 documents focused on an argument about how much information to disclose to Congress about continuing criminal investigations, like whether to say that a man, accused of buying guns linked to the killing of the Border Patrol agent, had bought the weapons before he was a suspect.” He didn’t mention how this inaccurate information was supplied by Mr. Burke and caused the officials in the office of the deputy attorney general, the criminal division and the ATF to work three days to come up with a response that was inaccurate. The three days were so stressful Mr. Weinstein said in an email, “The Magna Carta was easier to get done than this was.” Leaving out Mr. Burke was a big mistake for Mr. Savage. Big mistake.

I don’t know what it’s going to take for the New York Times to get serious about Operation Fast and Furious. I can’t wait to see how they cover Mr. Holder’s testimony next Thursday.

*UPDATE* I did try to talk to Mr. Savage, but he gave a lame excuse to “not engage with me”

You falsely told BigJournalism’s readers that the NYT published “not

one single word” about Friday’s document dump, and — even though you

realized your error at least eight hours ago — still haven’t bothered

to correct your online piece. It’s also clear that you didn’t bother

to read the documents yourself before critiquing other people’s

efforts to summarize them. In light of all that, I decline to engage.

We did update the piece & I did read the documents. Oh well. I’m not going to give up on this.


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