Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Joke Line Redux: Time Responds

image credit: Parody cover by Cujo359

The embarassment of Joe Klein's inaccurate column on the RESTORE Act continues. It looks like it's time to start a new article on this one ...

First off, Glenn Greenwald confirms Jane Hamsher's version of events regarding her phone conversation with Joe Klein's editor:

I happened to be conversing with Jane by video when she was finally able to speak by telephone to [Time editor Priscilla] Painton and thus heard Jane's end of the discussion.

The call lasted roughly 10 seconds. Jane asked one or two questions in the most polite and professional manner possible -- whether Painton was Klein's Editor and how such errors made their way into the article. As Jane describes, after she asked Painton how such inaccuracies could make it into the Time article, Painton snapped: "That assumes that there are errors." She then slammed down the phone in Hamsher's face.

Demand answers from Time magazine

Greenwald goes on to note that other than Rush Holt, House Democrats have been inexcusably silent on this issue. Considering that they passed it by a wide margin, they'd be willing to defend it. Not our Democrats, no sirree. What Nancy Pelosi has taught the Democrats in the House is that no one gets to speak against the Republican line. Some of the blame for this lousy treatment of Democrats by the press can be blamed on her lousy leadership, I believe.

In a previous column, Greenwald pointed to an article by the Center for Citizen Media, a project affiliated with the UC Berkeley and Harvard journalism school :

One of the most amazing episodes in modern American journalism has emerged from a flagrantly inaccurate and misguided Time magazine column by Joe Klein. He’s a political writer whose work in this case may become Exhibit A for what’s wrong with the craft today.

Klein’s column attacked congressional Democrats’ effort to pass electronic surveillance legislation that would restrain the Bush administration’s wish for essentially no restraints or oversight whatever. In his piece, Klein got some vital facts dead wrong, giving a totally misleading message to his readers.


Then Klein sort of, kind of admitted error in a follow-up — though he made obvious something even more amazing: He hasn’t read the legislation he attacks. Meanwhile, neither Klein nor Time has put corrections into the original, flagrantly inaccurate column, which also ran in the print edition.

Shameful ‘Journalism’ by Time Magazine’s Joe Klein

Ryan Singel of Wired observes:

The debate over what powers the nation's spy agencies should have to wiretap America's internet and phone infrastructure without court oversight is a complicated one, but it grows even more cloudy when pundits like Time magazine's Joe Klein are allowed to spout dangerous propaganda in the nation's largest media outlets.

Time's Columnist Joe Klein Butchers Wiretapping Debate

After quoting Klein regarding what he thought the RESTORE Act mandated, Singel observes:

The whole paragraph is so wrong, it's not clear where to start.

First of all, neither bill has anything to do how the nation's intelligence services wiretap outside the country. In that case, no warrants are needed and no court oversight is involved. All that has to happen is the spooks largely can't specifically target an American inside the United States, and communications that involve anyone inside the United States, have to be minimized (e.g. remove their names) unless there's good reason not to. Say, if they are actually plotting some sort of attack or talking about importing cocaine.

It's been that way for more than 25 years and nothing in any of the bills changes that. In fact, all versions of the bills pending in Congress EXPAND the feds' legal wiretapping powers as they existed before August.

In the House bill that passed last week, the FISA court only comes into play when targeting foreigners when the NSA wants to order Google or AT&T to let the NSA use their domestic facilities.

But if the NSA knows who the terrorist is and a list of the foreigners they think he's communicating with, they can order either company to help without visiting the court.

Time's Columnist Joe Klein Butchers Wiretapping Debate

In other words, this legislation gives the government more listening powers than I think it ought to have, and substantially more than Klein seems to realize.

It's sure not hard to find people who understand how stupid and wrong Klein's article was. You'd think maybe Joe Klein or his bosses would figure it out someday.

Dream on. Greenwald got this automated response from the e-mail account of Richard Stengel, the music critic-turned editor of Time:

Thank you for your email, I appreciate your comments.

TIME Columnist Joe Klein made a reporting error, which he swiftly addressed in his blog postings on In addition, TIME will run a correction in his column in this week's issue of the magazine.

Thank you very much,

Richard Stengel

Managing Editor


Demand answers from Time magazine

Needless to say, none of what Stengel wrote is true. Klein didn't correct the record. As the CfCM observed, the column has not been corrected either in the online or published versions. All Klein did was whine about how hard it was to figure all this stuff out.

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