Lyin’ About Liasson

NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin blames the messengers and errant transcribers for calling correspondent Mara Liasson on her constant plugging of the Republican line on FOX.

In his latest column, Dvorkin blames a “misplaced comma” in the transcript for the wrath of readers at Media Matters and Think Progress, who could plainly see Liasson’s comments in video format.

Who are you going to believe, the transcript or your lying eyes?

The idea that an edited transcript changed Mara Liasson’s statements is laughable. The video of her comments is available online and is quite clear.

She says (beginning at 0:16): “And I think that every time you hear another one of these um kind of bipartisan scandal stories where it’s Democrats not just Republicans taking money from Abramoff um it underlines a feeling that people tell pollsters over and over again which is that everybody does it that there’s not really much difference.”

There’s no pause in her speech between the word “Democrats” and the word “not”. There’s no comma separating the Democrats from “Republicans taking money from Abramoff”. And even if there were, the sentence wouldn’t make any sense. What “bipartisan scandal” story would she be referring to, then?

Someone in radio, such as yourself, should know that in non-scripted speech there’s really no such thing as punctuation. Any punctuation can only be inferred from pauses and emphasis.

Of course, this is hardly the first time Ms. Liasson has made these types of false allegations. It’s why FOX likes to have her on.

A follow-up note:

Mr. Dvorkin, I’m at a loss. When you say that Think Progress and Media Matters relied on an uncorrected FOX transcript, had you contacted them to confirm that fact? Because this is the quote on the page you link to at Think Progress:

“where it’s Democrats, not just Republicans taking money from Abramoff”

and this what’s up at Media Matters:

“where it’s Democrats, not just Republicans, taking money from Abramoff”

Note that the two transcriptions are different. If they came from the same uncorrected source, you might expect that they would be identical.

Of course, since both sites had the video posted (as did the video weblog Crooks & Liars), the text in the transcript hardly matters, because people could see Ms. Liasson’s comments without the filter of a transcriber’s error.

You did verify the source of the transcripts before you accused both sites of using FOX’s transcripts, didn’t you? I mean, that would be something a journalist would do. Right?