Saturday, October 02, 2004

Camerongate, FireCarlCameron or

Which is worse?

Assuming that the documents in the 60 Minutes II report on George Bush's Texas Air National Guard record were fake, at least no one (reasonable, that is) has been suggesting that Dan Rather conjured them up himself for a lark (and, personally, I'm still not one-hundred-percent convinced that the docs in question are indeed fake on account of the corroborative recollections of Marian Carr Knox, the secretary to President Bush's National Guard commander, and the work of David E. Hailey, Jr., Ph.D. which can be found at this link).

On the other hand, thanks to some nifty detective work done by Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo, the Fox News Website had to post an apology for running a story containing fake Kerry post-debate quotes, creatively written by their Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron, who is currently covering Kerry. Cameron's piece included these witless witticisms: "Didn't my nails and cuticles look great?"; "Women should like me! I do manicures"; and - comparing himself to George - "I'm metrosexual he's a cowboy."

But - not unsurprisingly - this isn't the first time that Mr. Cameron has doubled as a mis-speechwriter for Senator Kerry. Media Matters for America has compiled a neat little list of Cameronian distortions. The list was made in response to CNN's Reliable Sources host and Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz's strange (since I mostly dig the Kurtz man) defense of Mr. Cameron as a "straightforward" correspondent. It includes the time when Carl oh-so-overclaimed on FOX News Channel's Studio B with Shepard Smith that Senator Kerry was "accusing George W. Bush of being a warmonger who wants a perpetual state of war around the world." As far as he's come, Senator Kerry would never go that far, although, I, of course, would (and will).

Fox wiped the story off its site and then offered this feeble apology, chalking up the mistake to "fatigue and bad judgment, not malice." Left unclear is whether the fatigue and bad judgment belong to Mr. Cameron or the rest of the staff at the Fox News empire. Pity the poor neo-cons; it must've been tough for the Foxies to sleep more than a wink ever since Presidential Kerry took un-Presidential Bush to the cleaners in the first Presidential debate last Thursday night in Florida.

Will Cameron's poor-excuse-for-an-Onion-homage-disguised-as-news merit hundreds of hours of coverage on hundreds of broadcasts on newscasts and pundit shows? Will there be an onslaught of websites and blogs be established to watch Carl Cameron, diss Carl Cameron and fire Carl Cameron?

Wouldn't Rupert Murdoch's Fox empire be guilty of hippotamus-sized hypocrisy for not firing Carl Cameron since their conduits have been the most vocal (and shrill) in the movement to get CBS to dump Dan Rather? How about - at least - reprimanding him for real by, perhaps, featuring him for a week on their omnipresent news ticker in between unsustantiated terror alerts.

Carl Cameron has garnered headlines for another recent journalistic blunder. In August, CBS reported that Mr. Cameron was the recipient of classified intelligence leaked by Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby, which revealed the contents of two messages ("The match is about to begin." "Tomorrow is zero hour.") that the National Security Agency received on September 10th, 2001 but didn't get around to translating until September 12th. While Mr. Cameraon didn't do a story about the docs on his own network, he did pass the illegal information on to CNN reporter Dana Bash who promptly reported it on CNN. And yet, unlike Judy Miller at the New York Times who is fighting a subpoena for her notes and telephone call logs in another leaky case, Carl Cameron instantly blabbed to the feds about his source (not that I'm implying that Ms. Miller possesses any more journalistic integrity).

Someone using the handle "Windhorse" posted a for-real Cameron quote on the best blog that there is: Eschaton. Cameron's quote was uttered in response to his much-talked-about appearance in the documentary Outfoxed, in which he tells Dubya that his ex-wife Pauline helped campaign for him (she "doesn't need notes, she's going to crowds, and she's got the whole riff down"). "If the world concludes today, tomorrow, whatever, that the media has shifted and one organization is deserving of a reputation or not, I will still go back to look at my stories," Mr. Cameron said. "What you'll see there is a true reflection of what happened on the campaign trail and the political ramifications from it. If they decide Fox is cannibalistic, pick your adjective, I still stand by everything I've done today and, thankfully, people on both sides of the fence have agreed that, yeah, what you’re saying, Carl, is true."

Mr. Cameron later denied that his ex-wife ever even officially worked for the Bush 2000 campaign. But frequent O'Franken Factor contributor David Sirota (M-M-My Sirota) reported on his blog, that "one source familiar with the situation, who declined to be named, told NYTV that Mr. Cameron had attempted to get his wife a job with the Bush transition team.”

He also claimed that his words in the documentary were taken out of context. But he lied about that, as well. Here's a link to the unedited footage of the Carl Cameron interview with Bush featured in Robert Greenwald's Outfoxed. Is Carl the king of kiss-ass or what?. Dubya returns the love by bestowing upon him the nickname: Camerones.

In an mostly complimentary interview with The New York Observer's Joe Hagan Mr. Cameron claimed that he's "never, ever once been second-guessed by anybody at Fox that what I've heard or seen with my own eyes should somehow be altered for any purpose," so maybe they should start second-guessing him. In the same interview, he also jokes "I thoroughly expect that we'll be tormenting Democrats right and left in a good-spirited political way."

Feel free to write Mr. Cameron and ask him to explain why he's so unfair and unbalanced at Or complain to his bosses at Fox News by phone at 1-888-369-4762.


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