Media Sprays and Leaves.

Written By: - Date published: 11:25 am, May 5th, 2018 - 24 comments
Categories: International, making shit up, Media, Propaganda, rumour, spin, useless - Tags: , ,

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.

Skripnals poisoned by novichok dose of up to 100g, watchdog says.

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.

24 comments on “Media Sprays and Leaves.”

  1. greywarshark 1

    The clue about its veracity was there from the first. ‘Up to 100g’?? The stuff is said to be highly toxic. If the scientists, researchers quoted are giving such a gigantic margin of possibility of dose then it means that whoever is passing on the information is saying (in parenthesis) – ‘We haven’t got a clue’.

    • Bill 1.1

      I want to know why a number of major media outlets attributed the opinion of a third party to the head of the OPCW.

      I’d like to know who that third party is.

      I’d also like to know enough to better judge if the idea was for “second tier” outlets (eg – the Huffington Post) to miss the inaccuracy and run with the basic line maligning the OPCW and calling it’s competency into question.

      I’m also curious as to why the original NYT article appears to have been disappeared.

      What I’m expecting is a wee few articles “rubbishing” the OPCW between now and the time their report on Douma is published/released. I could be wrong. We’ll see.

      • dukeofurl 1.1.1

        Its even more junk news than you have pointed out as the amounts ‘thought’ to be used were mg NOT g. ie 1000 times smaller.

        Nonsense begats nonsense

  2. cleangreen 2

    Bill,

    Now the PM of Czech republic admits that novichok was made in his country too but said ‘quickly’ now it was destroyed.

    http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-05/04/c_137156318.htm

    We were told it was only made in Russia so media are lying now.

    Another Russia Russia Russia crappy stitch up by media and Russia’s enemies obviously.

    media = false stories.

  3. NZJester 3

    Can the original NYT article be found on The Wayback Machine?
    It is amazing what things people try to hide can be dug up on that.

    • Bill 3.1

      No. I tried that. It seems (assuming I’m using the service correctly) that the NYT doesn’t allow its pages to be archived.

      And I found this on the European Tribune site –

      After the OPCW made a press statement, the New York Times did not issue a correction, but instead deleted its original article wholesale, replacing it with a new text.

      I still want to know who told Üzümcü that 50 – 100g had been used. And I want to know why media are still mis-reporting Üzümcü.

  4. R.P Mcmurphy 4

    dont give a shit about any of this.
    who dunnit is more to the point!

    • Bill 4.1

      The “paper of record” is deleting its own articles.
      Mainstream outlets are running a quite serious a lie/smear.
      And the OPCW may or may not be “in the crosshairs”.

      And you don’t give a shit. Sure. Fine.

      • McFlock 4.1.1

        What’s the “lie/smear”?

        • Bill 4.1.1.1

          Attributing claims to Üzümcü when he was quite explicit that he was only relaying what someone (obviously not connected to the OPCW) had said.

          Subsequent articles have run on that basis – that Üzümcü was giving his and the OPCW’s take on the matter.

          And y’know, when you want to attack an org, and call its competency into question, you only need to attack its head and then smear the entire org. by association.

          I would like to be able to read the original interview for the sake of context etc, but obviously can’t, since it’s been deleted from the internet.

          • McFlock 4.1.1.1.1

            Yeah, that’s what happens when you’re interviewed as part of an organisation (let alone head) and make statements: people assume that you’re speaking for the organisation.

            And if an online story focuses exclusively around a fact that turns out to be completely incorrect, you bet it disappears quickly.

            As for where he heard it, it might have been external, it might not. It’s kind of irrelevant, because he actually said it.

            • Bill 4.1.1.1.1.1

              “Someone said to me that the moon is made of cheese”, versus “The moon is made of cheese”.

              Pretty clear and obvious difference there I’d have thought.

              And as for stories being taken down and disappeared – this is the first from a major source I’ve encountered.

              And they are running with false facts – ie, they are saying Üzümcü said “the moon is made of cheese” when Üzümcü actually said “Someone said to me the moon is made of cheese.”

              And that bending of truth/ diimissal of context/ dumping of stated qualifiers, absolutely discredits the OPCW to a degree – so much so that they issued a presser pointing out they had no way to determine quantities – which the media is now reporting as the OPCW and Üzümcü “rowing back”…from something neither of them stated as being their own informed opinion.

              • McFlock

                Except that he repeated it in his role as head of an international organisation.

                His fuckup wasn’t the trivial gaff over units. His fuckup was offering unattributed rumour that he wasn’t sure of when he was speaking in an official capacity. It doesn’t matter what qualifiers he put on it, as far as anyone is concerned he is the source. The fact that he repeated it gave it credibility. So yeah, “rowing back” is a good way to put it.

                As for news site articles being removed, if you do a google search for the word “article” and the phrase “since removed” you’ll probably find links about Geoffrey Rush being mentioned in the Aus Telegraph, disappeared or sneakily edited articles from Forbes, LA Times, and even the Guardian.

                • Bill

                  When or where did he repeat that someone had said to him that 50 – 100g of nerve agent had been used? (I agree the units used are not the issue) And how does relaying the fact that someone has said such a thing give credence to the thing? The up front qualifications that he offered do matter, do change things, and ought not be ignored by media that purport to be serious and intelligent.

                  If the article was available, I suspect it’d show he used that piece of hear-say to get around to “quantity as weapon” explanations he seems to have commented on.

                  Edited or amended articles are not in the same league as articles being expunged from the net. And it’s not as though we’re talking about some minor org or outlet here. Anyway…

                  • McFlock

                    Even with qualifiers, the fact that, say, the head of NASA says someone told them that a radio telscope detected a signal that might indicate intelligent life on Europa would still carry a shedload more weight than an article saying exactly the same thing in a magazine published by Ian Wishart.

                    Sources matter, even if they’re repeating informal comments with qualifying statements.

                    And the original stories that named the guy charged in relation to a recent murder in Dunedin have been pulled. The Aus telegraph stories about Geoffrey Rush have been pulled. BTW, “expunged from the net” is probably just a dramatic way of saying “pulled before any bots archived the story, because as soon as the OPCW staff read it online they sprinted to the dude’s office”.

  5. Stunned Mullet 5

    Best to always go to the source for clarification.

    https://www.opcw.org/news/article/opcw-spokespersons-statement-on-amount-of-nerve-agent-used-in-salisbury/

    Üzümcü as I understand it is not a scientist so it may be as simple as a mistake on his part or a loss in translation – I don’t believe there’s any great conspiracy in terms of this report.

  6. aj 6

    Lubos Motl nails it here:

    https://motls.blogspot.co.nz/2018/05/czech-military-intelligence-cz-produced.html?m=1

    And this 1985 song is no less relevant today

  7. Brigid 7

    A message to Ellen Barry, who interviewed Üzümcü , asking if in the interview Üzümcü states who gave him the information, yeilds zilch.
    Also.

    • Bill 7.1

      Just pinged an email off to the OPCW asking about the source of that info. I’ll post something up if any reply comes back.

  8. xanthe 8

    I love this comment Bill 🙂
    “fed bullshit just so your opinions can be nurtured for harvesting?”:

    that is a really accurate and succinct summation .

    I am into my second week of boycott the herald . gosh there is a whole other world out there full of actual stuff happening. who woulda thunk it

    • Ed 8.1

      Same – I followed your lead.

      • DB Brown 8.1.1

        I’m a week off the Herald now. It really is some tainted garbage and when they allowed DHC’s article attempting to smear Clarke was the last straw. Perhaps I’m cynical but I reckon her goal was to build some pre-emptive illusion of her being in the know concerning malicious rumors she hoped would become mainstream and she – the person who knew all was not well…

        They’re a whole pack of delusional neurotics actually, do anything for exposure. I met similar personalities in entertainment. Nauseating.

        Not all entertainers, many are amazing folks.

        If you can recommend media for me that aren’t paid shills or nut jobs it’d be appreciated.

  9. Philg 9

    I would buy a ‘newspaper’ if I could find one with real news in it.

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