This journalism "thingy," a word used with cloying frequency by MSNBC political analyst Rachel Maddow, is proving problematic for the former Air America Radio host.
On her cable show Tuesday night, Maddow informed viewers of "breaking news" that a terrorist suspect imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay had somehow called the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network on a cell phone.
Here's how Maddow described it --
We are pre-empting Ms. Information tonight to report a couple of late-breaking stories, both of which we have learned about late in the day today. The first, from Guantanamo, where apparently a prisoner has been able to surreptiously make a phone call to a TV network from inside the prison.
The Al Jazeera television network has posted on its Web site a transcript of the call. It's the first known interview with anyone imprisoned at Guantanamo. While journalists have been allowed to tour the prison, they have done so on the condition that they will not speak with prisoners there.
The prisoner who called out is apparently Mohammad El Gharani. You might recognize his name because a federal judge ordered him freed from Guantanamo back in January, about a week before President Obama took office. Despite the judge's order to free Mr. Gharani and send him to either Saudi Arabia where he was from or to Chad, he has not been freed. He is housed still at Guantanamo along with other prisoners who the courts have ordered freed, but who the US government cannot figure out what to do with.
Mr. Gharani's name may also be familiar to you because he is the prisoner who was locked up at Guantanamo when he was only 14 years old. He was picked up in Pakistan at age 14, he has been in Guantanmo ever since, he is now 21 years old.
In the call from Guantanamo, Mr. Gharani alleged that he had been beaten with batons and tear-gassed for refusing to leave his cell. An unnamed government official told the Reuters news agency that Mr. Gharani made the call to the Al Jazeera network under the guise of calling a family member. He was supposed to have called an uncle. It would be against Guantanamo's policy if Mr. Gharani dialed the number himself. That should have been done by a staff member or a guard there at the facility. Also, nobody knows why he had Al Jazeera's phone number.
We will keep you posted if there's any further information or response to this first breaking news story.
Unless "further information" converts sacred cow into hamburger. Perhaps this explains why Maddow, despite her vow to follow up, hasn't gone near the story ever since.
Where Maddow was genuinely dutiful, at least in service of her ideology, was in neglecting to mention when the alleged abuse took place. And it strains credulity that Maddow wasn't aware of this during her show Tuesday, since the time frame for the alleged abuse was mentioned prominently in the first source she cited -- the Al Jazeera story.
Even though the story linked above was updated on April 15, its first two paragraphs are identical to the story cited by Maddow the previous night. The third paragraph, only partially visible in the Maddow screenshot but fully so to her as a reader, was more than she was willing to share with viewers.
The paragraph reads --
"This treatment started about 20 days before Obama came into power, and since then I've been subjected to it almost every day," he told Al Jazeera.
Reuters posted a story on Gharani at 8:29 p.m. Tuesday, a half hour before the Maddow show was broadcast. Given time constraints, Maddow may have cited an earlier version of the story. If so, the story posted at 8:29 p.m. would presumably have been tagged as "updated". Here is the first paragraph of the Reuters story --
A young Guantanamo prisoner from Chad was given permission to telephone a relative but instead called the Al Jazeera television network and said he was being beaten and abused at the U.S. detention camp.
Al Jazeera and Reuters reported that Gharani claimed the alleged abuse began about 20 days before Obama took office -- and has continued ever since. In other words, during both the Bush junta and Obama criminal regime. Oops, sorry. A former leftist, I still lapse into occasional agitprop.
Maddow told viewers she was "pre-empting the Ms. Information" portion of her show to report on Gharani's phone call to Al Jazeera. If she continues her earnest brand of cherry-picked journalism, Maddow runs the risk of being renown for "misinformation" instead.