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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Catholicals Lie, Fools Believe!

This report from guardian. It pefectly illustrated a chain of liars in western propogand machines and how the fools were cheated when they talk about China. Enjoy!

Beijing denied a story about an Olympic Bible ban spread by the rightwing media but it was actually a Catholic news service that shut it down

Richard Aregood
Monday November 12, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

China said atheletes are free to bring Bibles for personal use. Photograph: Chris Gardner/AP

The story had everything going for it. It was outrageous. It was emotionally laden. It involved suppression of religion by godless communists. The flurry of attention in the comments section of rightwing political and religious websites was instantaneous. The problem was that it wasn't true.

A recent editorial in the conservative New York Sun kicked off the fuss by citing a report from the Catholic News Service asserting that the Chinese government would bar athletes from bringing Bibles to the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games. Pajamas Media, home of many a rightwing blog, followed up with a report, also citing CNS, and adding the strange cavil "if true".

Actually, the report, citing an Italian sports newspaper as a source, seems to have come from the Catholic News Agency, a totally different operation with a traditional religious outlook, one that features the text of the Pope's Sunday Angelus prayer and a "saint of the day." It was never carried by the Catholic News Service.
Then the Catholic News Service did something remarkable, using its nearly-new website, CNS News Hub. It strongly and convincingly denied ever running such a story and gave the dubious credit to CNA and the Italian paper, then went on to say in detail that there was no substance to the story about a Bible ban.

"We know that with the speed of the Internet and blogs that there was a need to do something like this," said Jim Lackey, the managing editor of CNS. "It's not our feelings about a story. We are just correcting the record."

He added: "When we started getting phone calls from Congressmen and from the state department asking 'what more can you tell me about your story?,' we decided to post the facts as we know them."

The facts, by the way, are that Bibles circulate freely in China, despite the Chinese government's bad record on religion and human rights. An official Chinese government statement said that it would prefer that athletes bring Bibles for personal use only, but stopped well short of a ban.

In fact, Olympic organisers in China said there would be no restrictions on Bibles in the Olympic village. Later, the reporter for the Italian newspaper unconvincingly defended his story by asserting that a ban on "pamphlets and materials used for any religious or political activity or display" meant Bibles, even after the Chinese issued a clarification changing the banned category to "promotional materials".

CNS did not end the flap. Internet controversies seem never to end, especially those that can be kept alive by people whose beliefs run deep. But CNS may have hit on something by clearly disclaiming a story via the web rather than distributing a counterbalancing story later that may never catch up with the original error.

Many Americans, for instance, still believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Centre, despite six years of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, or that he had weapons of mass destruction, despite none having been found over those same six years.

"Were they simply wrong or did they knowingly build a case?," asks Brian Toolan, national editor of the Associated Press, of the Bush administration. "I don't know the answer".

The AP, being a cooperative of its member news outlets, has no website of its own, so it could not completely duplicate the CNS technique. Its practice has always been to quickly correct errors or misstatements on its wire.

But in the era of deliberate misrepresentation, that might not provide the clarification that it is intended to provide. Rudy Giuliani, the candidate for the Republican nomination, has let go with a couple of whoppers in the last couple of weeks, first claiming incorrectly that the British National Health Service has a markedly worse record for prostate cancer survival than is actually the case. Then, providing heavily cooked statistics, he claimed the disgraced Bernard Kerik, his former police commissioner, had been responsible for as much as eliminating crime in New York City.

In traditional, big market journalism, the choices are limited. If a source misrepresents or lies, Toolan said, "You are compelled to go back and correct." For serial offenders, you have to hope that reporters "instinctively and instantly go back and check everything".

Maybe the relatively tiny Catholic wire service has the beginning of an interesting idea. What would be the problem with media outlets, from newspapers to websites to television news, maintaining a website that focuses on mistakes - especially the flat out lies that they have carried?

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