Thursday, December 14, 2006


Journalist and author Antony Loewenstein is writing a book on the Australian media to be published by Random House in 2007. I hope Random House knows what it's doing.

A book on the media is likely to be quote-rich; the problem is, Loewenstein has serious quote-accuracy issues. His best-selling My Israel Question contains quotes reconstructed after the fact; the source disputing their accuracy. He also took liberties when quoting Mark Steyn's address to the Big Ideas Forum.

Loewenstein has now quoted George W. Bush saying:
Although the Bush administration is bogged down in Iraq, I’ve long feared, like Seymour Hersh, that a military strike against Iran becomes more likely the worse Iraq descends. It may be the mother of all distractions or because as Bush has said, "saving Iran is going to be [my] legacy".
The original quote, from a New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh, reads as follows:
A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”
So, Loewenstein has taken an already dubious fourth-hand Chinese whispers quote and deliberately altered it. It's just a bid odd that Loewenstein has manufactured a Bush quote when he damns MSM journalists who uncritically swallow government spin:
The majority of journalists are clearly so supine and unthinking that any path other than complete obedience to the state is unimaginable. Just like Soviet times, in fact.
Uncritical acceptance of the government line is laziness; manufacturing quotes is lying. Crikey does its credibility, such as it is, no favours by publishing Loewenstein's poorly written, factually incorrect rubbish.

Update: Crikey:
Our writer got it wrong -- the observation should not have appeared in quotation marks or been attributed to the US President. We apologise for the error.
Loewenstein doesn't do corrections: the uncorrected article still appears at his blog.

Update II: To test whether Loewenstein censors comments I've lodged the following at his blog:
Crikey has published the following correction in relation to the Bush quote you cite above:
[Loewenstein] got it wrong -- the observation should not have appeared in quotation marks or been attributed to the US President. We apologise for the error.
Since the "error" was yours, shouldn't you also apologise?
Let's see if it makes it out of moderation.

Update: It's been more than 24 hours and Loewenstein hasn't corrected. My comment is still in moderation.


Anonymous Melanie said...

BTW - I've only ever been banned for trying to disprove statements he's made. Never for being rude.

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

melanie, as Anthony has often pointed out, he is an extraordinarily experienced, best selling author, to have the impudence to doubt his statements is rudeness in the extreme. No wonder you were banned. Harrumph.

5:20 AM  
Anonymous Irf said...

Geez you guys are a bunch of whingers. So what if Tony Loewenstein banned you from commenting on his blog? Does your life revolve around exposing the apparent lies of Tones?

11:57 PM  

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