Bill Keller: True = False, But Better False Than Left or Right

As you read Bill Keller’s latest exercise in public masturbation, keep in mind how the NYT long refused to correct its credulous and ultimately, factually false, reporting on James O’Keefe III’s ACORN videos (Update: here’s BradBlog’s coverage of their belated admission they were wrong).

Now consider how Keller equates O’Keefe’s serial fabrications with Julian Assange’s leaks–leaks the NYT has heavily relied upon in its own reporting.

Has anyone actually seen James O’Keefe and Julian Assange together? Are we quite sure that the right-wing prankster who brought down the leadership of National Public Radio and the anarchic leaker aren’t split personalities of the same guy — sent by fate to mess with the heads of mainstream journalists?

Sure, one shoots from the left, the other from the right. One deals in genuine (albeit purloined) secrets; the other in “Candid Camera” stunts, most recently posing as a potential donor and entrapping a foolish NPR executive into disclosing his scorn for Republicans and the Tea Party.

Aside from equating video fabrications with documents the accuracy of which the NYT has confirmed itself, Bill Keller repeats the NYT’s earlier habit of repeating O’Keefe’s lies unquestioningly. [Update, 3/28 AM: The NYT has corrected part of Keller’s description of what really happened with O’Keefe’s latest; let’s see how long it takes them to correct Keller’s portrayal of Schiller’s intent.]

Here’s a better description of what O’Keefe’s fabrications exposed NPR Executive Ron Schiller to have said and done, from the digital forensic consultant NPR employed to review the full video.

Take the political remarks. Ron Schiller speaks of growing up as a Republican and admiring the party’s fiscal conservatism. He says Republican politicians and evangelicals are becoming “fanatically” involved in people’s lives.

But in the shorter tape, Schiller is also presented as saying the GOP has been “hijacked” by Tea Partyers and xenophobes.

In the longer tape, it’s evident Schiller is not giving his own views but instead quoting two influential Republicans — one an ambassador, another a senior Republican donor. Schiller notably does not take issue with their conclusions — but they are not his own.

I assume the Keller and the NYT will ignore this analysis, as they did the analysis ACORN had done, and cling to their unquestioning acceptance of O’Keefe’s propaganda about what Schiller said and did.

Now, Keller spends the remainder of his exercise in public masturbation arguing that unlike these two, the NYT has standards, and values “being right” (oh, except for the little Iraq fiasco) and impartial.

Except that in his first two paragraphs, Keller makes it clear that he doesn’t much care about being right–or has forgotten how to do even the most basic work that requires. He’s just going to spout what he wants to as long as it makes him feel important.

So I guess the better question is, has anyone actually seen James O’Keefe III and Bill Keller in the same place at the same time?

  1. msobel says:

    Have you noticed no one has seen Julian Assange and that reporter who writes for the Daily Planet, what’s his name Kent, together ?

    Actually, I can’t stand to read Keller, for a life long time reader of the Times, it’s really enhanced interrogation.

  2. newz4all says:


    let’s give keller one of atrios’ Wanker of the Day awards, shall we??

    done !!

    Wanker of the Day awarded to bill keller for being a Wanker.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Keller used to be a good reporter. I guess staying on the right side of his paper’s owners and their coupon clipping relatives, on the one hand, and making sure he doesn’t step over the line suggested by the administration, on the other, he’s given up on real reporting. I remember the days when the Times was a real newspaper.

    • Knut says:

      Yes. This column really surprises me. Is age making him dotty, or did someone at the Times but the squeeze on him? He was one of the sensible ones there.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Keller’s attempted snark – ludicrously equating the daring publishing undertaken by Julian Assange and WikiLeaks with the propaganda concocted by James O’Keefe (and Andrew Breitbart, same difference) – fails on many levels.

    Calling his effort public masturbation is an insult to legitimate self-gratification. His exercise seems to have more in common with auto-erotic asphyxiation, in that Keller has put the plastic bag of conformity and flaccid inquiry over his own head.

  5. Jinx says:

    For some reason this reminds me of the burn left by Jason Jones of the Daily show on poor Bill Keller.

    “What’s black and white and red all over?”, a self-satisfied Keller asks. Jason Jones, without missing a beat says, “The New York Times balance sheet.” Keller got a sad.

    I seem to recall Jones complimented the paper on it’s long storied history by calling out their coverage of Watergate. Classic. Keller seemed to think it was going to be all reverential. Oops.

  6. Deep Harm says:

    Poor Bill–as the son of a Chevron CEO, he was born with a silver pen in his hand and mistakenly believes it confers magic powers, including dispensation to ignore embarrassing facts.

    Sure, one shoots from the left, the other from the right. One deals in genuine (albeit purloined) secrets; the other in “Candid Camera” stunts, most recently posing as a potential donor and entrapping a foolish NPR executive into disclosing his scorn for Republicans and the Tea Party. Assange aims to enlist the media; O’Keefe aims to discredit us. But each, in his own guerrilla way, has sown his share of public doubt about whether the press can be trusted as an impartial bearer of news. –Bill Keller, NYT

    In his comment, Bill clearly believes he can ignore the vexatious reality that the Press itself created public doubt about its trustworthiness, a fact that never was clearer than in 2005. That was the year the Times became embroiled in the Judith Miller debacle. That same year, the Times confessed, on December 15, to sitting on a disclosure of domestic spying at the request of President George W. Bush shortly before the November 2004 presidential election. By then, Bush had retaken the oath of office and his new administration had used that opportunity to horribly mismanage the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

    Only after all of that did Julian Assange launch the Wikileaks website in 2006.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Purloined secrets? Are any other kind published? Well, perhaps not at the Times, which asks permission to publish secrets TPTB might find offensive, even though those are precisely the ones it should publish.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The question is why is Bill Keller working overtime to denigrate a new medium publisher for publicizing materials – often proved accurate and devastatingly important – that come to it in the same way that sources come to the Times’ top reporters. Is it because Mr. Assange can’t fight back with the same resources and ruthlessness of Rupert Murdoch?

      Mr. Keller seems to be projecting his own angst and blaming it on Assange. If Woody Allen’s schtick is accurate, there are probably a few thousand therapists up and down Park and Fifth Avenues who could help Mr. Keller more than his composing these embarrassing rants.

  7. JohnLopresti says:

    I would like to see New York Times publish a narrowband version. It does not load anymore over ATT landline bandwidth. Nor does the conservative insider entity Washington Post, or even Slate. I appreciate what NYT does, and always have, even in the days when Washington Square Park in southern Manhattan by 10:30 a.m. afforded free copies of the ponderous daily morning newspaper, discards from the intelligentia literati billowing in a paperstorm wind as the drafty avenues filled with discards of commuters, some of whom preferred to arrive by train in the metropolis, or who rode the subways and could read while standing and swaying as the subway lurched over uneven rails at 35 mph, with reading techniques adapted to the compressed space available on public transportation, folding the NYT vertically into 2- or 3-column width elongated paper accordionwise. I think launching text only websites would afford the potential readership expansion some of these progressive publications seek. They have supporters who cannot access the content they develop profesionally. JudyJudy was an anomaly in her gullibility, or whatever her much parsed motives were. It was amazing reading of the bravery of the war correspondents NYT has fielded covering the north Africa and middle east spring events in an article a few days ago which revealed many of the captured and released reporters had endured similar untoward events on prior assignments; yet, they continue to cover those sorts of developments.

    I knew from the first reportage of O*Keefe*s latest exploit that the video was going to parse out under smpte timecode scrutiny in the latest npr incident much like the technique Brad Friedman found in examining the Landrieu discrediting video, or the Acorn documentary scam that got congress miffed. Video has a neat way of leting the gifted observer and technician splice visual to sound. A fairly renowned television producer once showed a bunch of us students in his lab an amazing technique for altering a speaker*s facial expression. As people speak, their face goes thru several statue-like visages, like a series of masks which are their repertoire of expression. The producer was trying to create a specific length video clip, but the interview on tape was too short by several 1/10ths of a second. So, he simply lifted a frame capture expression of the same interviewee from a different tape, and spliced it in with a mixer device electronically; and voila, the interview fit the news segment length requirement precisely. The only thing was, the inserted facial expression was from a discussion of a wholly different topic and was not at all germane to the topic of the film clip. He actually added visual meaning which was wholly deceitful, just for the purpose of satisfying production needs. I really disliked the misleading outcome of the technique; but, it taught me to monitor video at the fast pace at which equipment captures it, 30 frames/second. The producer was very famous for his celerity of visual perception. To be fair, the inserted few frames included a very earnest expression by the interviewee; but the underlying soundtrack was not the content that had generated the expression, and altered the impression of seriousness the interviewee was seen giving in the final version.

    I don*t know if all this is an excuse for Mr. Keller. I doubt it. But there is politics afoot in some public statements of his; I think people can be sophisticated readers and watchers and recognize when his public statements are jousting in the lists of political currents. I guess I just appreciate NYT.

  8. mzchief says:

    One of the last persons I want to hear from regarding “sent by fate Zadoz to mess with the heads” is Mr. Keller. I am so glad that a person as EmptyWheel rises to the occasion to read, dissect this multimedia form of pithing a frog’s brain-repurposed-for-humans and in an extremely entertaining fashion summarily dispatch it because this is what I have come to regard the Corporate Lame_stream Media’s true purpose on this planet. There’s something perverse about having to go through life with a digital forensic consultant in tow.

  9. rmwarnick says:

    Isn’t it nice to know the almighty New York Times editors finally realized they were wrong about ACORN after six months of relentlessly attacking the organization based on a fabrication?

    Just like they finally realized that front-page stories about Iraq WMD were wrong, after hundreds of thousands of people died in an illegal war?

  10. cwnidog says:

    This quote from Keller:

    We do not manipulate or hide facts to advance an agenda.

    left me a little baffled given the brouhaha re: The Times’ suppressing information regarding Raymond Davis’ escapades in Pakistan like his being CIA. Since the Pakistani media was already openly speculating on this, Keller’s excuse that they did it to protect Davis, or other individuals, rings hollow. The only thing left for him to protect was the Administration’s image.

  11. msobel says:

    I thought I had already commented but I don’t read Keller, as a life long Times reader, reading him is real “enhanced interrogation”.