Question. If I said that someone told me “x”, would you report that I was claiming “x” to be true?
That’s what the Guardian did in headlines just the other day.
My initial thought was How do you get 100g of anything onto a doorhandle? After the first sentence, where the Guardian informed its readers that the nerve agent was in liquid form, I became positively non-plussed about that one. And by the third paragraph I’d dismissed the entire article as just more bullshit on the grounds that Üzümcü, the Director General of the OPCW (the “watchdog” in the headline), had merely relayed to the NYT that “he had been told” that 50 – 100g had been used. No indication was given as to who had told him that 50 – 100g had been used.
According to the date stamps on articles, it was much later the same day that a second article came out alongside the first one being amended. The second article was headlined – Chemical weapons watchdog amends claim over Salisbury novichok
Still no mention of who told Üzümcü that 50 – 100g of liquid novichok had been used. In fact that entire detail of hear-say disappears, and we are informed that the claim belongs to the OPCW director general. The Guardian goes on to say –
It is not clear how Üzümcü made his error.
Well, lets go back to the original article that is based on a New York Times interview to see if we can discern how “Üzümcü made his error”.
Third paragraph, first sentence: “In an interview with the New York Times, Üzümcü said he had been told that about 50-100g of the nerve agent was thought to have been used in the attack in Salisbury.” (my emphasis)
So there you go. Üzümcü was repeating a rumour from an unnamed source – that was his error. I can’t quite understand why the Guardian isn’t figuring that one out and is instead suggesting that Üzümcü is incompetent or just plain stupid.
Given that the story has been reported across a number of outlets, with the focus shifting to insinuate levels of OCPW incompetence, I went searching for the New York Times article containing the interview with Üzümcü.
I found a piece that mentions the original piece and ‘corrects’ it with the following – A chemical weapons watchdog amended statements on Friday that its leader had given to The New York Times… (Here’s the link)
As an aside, how many internationally recognised ‘watchdogs’ are there in the world of chemical and biological weapons?! More than one? I think not.
Anyway. I can’t find the original article. A site search of The New York Times returns nothing, and a google search, though giving promising NYT links such as Large Dose of Nerve Agent Used in Attack in Britain, Says Weapons Watchdog from three days ago, and from two day ago, only links everything back to yesterday’s NYT article that I’ve provided above.
Which is a shame. I’d really like to know who it was that told the director general of the OPCW that 50-100g of stuff was used, because I’d assume Üzümcü wouldn’t just run with information coming from any old nobody.
So I have a request. Given that I’ve blown half of my “free access” to the New York Times, if anyone out there can find and link to the original NYT piece in comments I’d be very grateful.
Meanwhile, I’m thinking the glorious mainstream/ liberal/corporate media did one of those “seeding” or “united front” stories it does from time to time, ballsed it up, and is now in arse covering mode.