My name is Greg Farrell and I would like you to know I have been exchanging emails challenging Washington Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander and his version of the incidents concerning Rep Lewis and Rep Carson. I was there at the foot of the Cannon Building. Here is the exchange in order. The first is my response to Alexander’s version as set forth in his April 11 Washington Post column.
The following is Mr. Farrell’s email correspondence with Alexander:
Put your money where your pen is.
Well if any of you people who fell for the lie that these congressman were racially verbally abused do decide that you may want to regain some credibility in the eyes of the majority of Americans you can start your investigation right here. I was there at the foot of the steps of the Cannon Building on March 20th when these particular congressman left the building and when they returned. At no time did anybody make any racial remarks towards these men. You can, yet probably won’t because the equation doesn’t fit the sum you are hellbent on seeking, which is concluding the Tea Party Movement is racist.
Ask me anything you like at anytime and I will be happy to answer any and all of my questions. Stop the crap and be responsible if you chose to be an honest journalist and tell the truth about what happened. The far majority of the American people don’t buy into the bullshit that these citizens are fringe right wing racists, so all the attempts at trying to describe them as such is making you look almost comical
In a message dated 4/12/2010 9:17:44 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, email@example.com writes:
Thanks for writing. You were at the base of the steps to the Cannon Building. The alleged racial epithets were said to have occurred quite some distance away, across Independence Avenue and close to the Capitol.
Also, I take issue with your “fell for the lie” assertion. Surely you noted in my column that I took care to debunk the claim that a Tea Party activist intentionally spat on Rep. Cleaver. And I tracked down the raw footage of the incident involving Barney Frank.
I’d ask you to exercise the same impartiality that has guided me in writing about these incidents.
Washington Post Ombudsman
04/12/2010 10:44 AM
The alleged racial epithets were originally said to have been yelled from the base of the steps of the Cannon Building and then when no such audio or video could be found along with zero witnesses to this allegation…it was “then” said to have occurred quite a distance away where I will also note there is no evidence to suggest that either.
A serious journalist would have noticed the inconsistent story line but it is hard to find one of those these days. Perhaps if Obama race baiting cheerleaders such as your newspaper were inclined to notice the lack of consistent credibility amongst those who throw false charges around knowing full well their advocates in the media will spread the fire, and actually investigated the congressman’s charges the way you people do fact checks on books written by Sarah Palin maybe this nonsense you might call a news story would have been stopped that day.
You also managed to track down the raw footage “long after” it was already exposed. I noticed you were silent until after the footage aired. Heaven forbid if you had a seed of doubt in the congressmen’s story and raised the question immediately. It was bloggers who exposed the videos. If it were up to your newspaper and others like it, these videos would never have seen the light of day. Be honest with yourself…it’s not a coincidence that less and less people are reading the print media anymore.
In a message dated 4/12/2010 11:06:05 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
Thanks. You reference “your newspaper.” I’m happy to engage you is civil discussion, but would ask that you show even a rudimentary understanding of my job. I operate independent of The Post; I am not on its staff.
Washington Post Ombudsman
04/13/2010 06:43 AM
I’m more than willing to engage in civil conversation with somebody described as the Washington Post Ombudsman. I also see this conversation will go forward without a response to some of the things I wrote in my previous email such as the story about the racial epithets being changed to a different location when the congressman’s original version didn’t hold water. What about the notion that you tried to take credit showing objectivity by mentioning a video debunking the spitting claims long after many others have posted videos on their own private blogs and such? When this story first came out, did you seek out video right away to debunk it and wait almost three weeks to bring it forward? Did you make it a point to question the congressmen’s statements or motive as soon as you heard about these allegations over the next couple of days? You also seem to want to assume the racial epithets were yelled from a different location from where I was yet you also don’t have any first hand witness from the other side of the street either.
I may have a bit of an assignment for you if you would like to do some investigating on your own. Did you ever stop to think how it was possible for William Douglas, an African American reporter from McClatchy Newspapers, happened to have interviewed Barney Frank, John Lewis and Emanuel Cleaver and post an eight hundred word article titled “Tea party protesters scream ‘nigger’ at black congressman” inside of 90 minutes from the alleged incident? Now is it possible that part of the story was already written?
One more question. If these congressmen were harassed as they say they were on either side of the street when they were going to the Capitol, wouldn’t it be logical to assume there would be more than one Capitol Hill Police officer walking “behind” these same congressmen when they returned to the Cannon Building?
When journalists used to want to get their story straight instead of spreading emotional political propaganda in the past, they used to notice things like this. Or perhaps they didn’t chose to ignore them.
8:51 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, email@example.com writes:
Thanks for responding.
With respect to the location of the alleged racial epithets, Reps. Carson and Lewis were clear from the outset. They said the incidents occurred outside the House side of the Capitol. There were other reports about epithets being issued near the Cannon Building. But in my column, I did not assert this. Rather, I dealt only with what is said to have occurred outside the U.S. Capitol on the House side. I did this because that’s where Reps. Lewis and Carson said they repeatedly heard the N-word.
I didn’t try to “take credit” for anything regarding the spitting incident. To the contrary, I noted that videos existed and I criticized The Post for not investigating sooner. Specifically, I wrote: “With videos of the incident so prevalent on liberal and conservative Web sites, and with the question being so widely raised in the blogosphere and on cable channels, The Post was remiss in not providing clarity by quickly dissecting what happened.”
You ask: “. . .did you seek out video right away to debunk it. . ” Again, see above. And once again, I must tell you that I operate independent of The Post. I am not involved in its news coverage. I examine content after it has appeared in The Post. Thus, there would have been no reason for me to “seek out the video right away.” A central point of the column is criticism of The Post for not doing so.
The McClatchy story is of no interest to me. As ombudsman for The Washington Post, I am concerned solely with the journalism of The Washington Post.
With respect to whether there might have been more than one U.S. Capitol Police officer walking behind members moving up the steps of the Cannon Building, that is not of interest to me because that is not where the racial slurs were alleged to have occurred. Again, Rep. Carson and Lewis said they occurred outside the House side of the Capitol, which is across Independence Avenue, some distance away.
That said, I do believe The Post should seek out U.S. Capitol Police officers who might have been on duty in that area near the House entrance to the Capitol. My suspicion is that quite a few were deployed there. An enterprising reporter would want to inquire as to whether they heard epithets.
Washington Post Ombudsman
THIS IS MY LATEST RESPONSE THIS MORNING 4/14/2010
Yes, Reps. Carson and Lewis were clear from the outset. They originally said they were the subject of racial epithets walking “down the steps” of the Cannon Building. That story changed and you in your own response bought into the lie by stating they were clear from the outset YET IT WAS THEIR “second” story. Here is a link to the story in the Washington Times with AUDIO OF CARSON’S OWN WORDS AND HERE ARE IS THE TRANSCRIPT OF HIS “ORIGINAL STORY TO REPORTERS”
If you read the Italics print you will notice his descriptions as coming “out” of the Cannon Building and walking “down” the steps. Please tell me you know that you don’t walk “down” the steps to return “into” the Cannon building. Otherwise you really are a lost cause.
HERE IS THE LINK TO THE AUDIO AND THEN THE TRANSCRIPThttp://media.washingtontimes.com/media/audio/2010/Apr/06/a_carson_intvw.mp3
REP. CARSON:John Lewis…n – word, n – word at least 15 times…hundreds of people, and Capitol Police finally became aware and started protecting us. I want to know…those people who had cameras. I would love to get the actual [video].
REPORTER: When did this happen…just now….right before votes
REP. CARSON: Just now.
PICKET: What exactly happened? I’m sorry. I came in late here.
REPORTER: Outside of this building?
REP. CARSON: Cannon—-coming out with John Lewis Lewis out of the elevator with his chief of staff, and it was just the three of us walking down the steps — ‘kill the bill’, ‘kill the bill’…n – word fifteen times.
REPORTER: How many people were saying it?
REP. CARSON: Maybe out of…how many people are out there?…four hundred? Maybe fifteen people about fifteen times.
REPORTER: What were they saying? Just ‘kill the bill’?
REP. CARSON: ‘kill the bill’ and then the n – word (imitates crowd yelling racial slur) Lewis, his chief of staff, and myself (a former cop) I’m closer to Lewis… [we were] very stoic, looked straight forward, and Capitol Police got the idea. They started surrounding us. It was like a page out of a time machine.
PICKET: What are your thoughts on the crowd outside in general?
REP. CARSON: It’s America. Welcome to America.
REPORTER: I’m afraid I don’t know who you are.
REP. CARSON: Congressman Andre Carson…Indianapolis, Indiana seventh Congressional district–myself John Lewis and his chief of staff. It was unbelievable.
REPORTER2: Coming out of Coming out of Cannon?
REP. CARSON: Yeah , I expected rocks to come I mean…I’m walking with John Lewis who walked with MLK. It was bizarre, but he’s been there done that.
So again in your first statement from your previous email you are once again incorrect and ran off with none of the truth from a second made up version of the incident when the original version couldn’t be founded.
With respect to the location of the alleged racial epithets, Reps. Carson and Lewis were clear from the outset. They said the incidents occurred outside the House side of the Capitol. There were other reports about epithets being issued near the Cannon Building. But in my column, I did not assert this. Rather, I dealt only with what is said to have occurred outside the U.S. Capitol on the House side
I think its about time people like yourself should really consider if you are capable of owning the responsibility of giving accurate information to the people. You say you examine content after it has appeared in The Post. Thus, there would have been no reason for me to “seek out the video right away.” A central point of the column is criticism of The Post for not doing so.
Yet you don’t accept criticism for your own irresponsibility in your past email and original content when the above audio and transcript clearly contradicts the version you say they were “clear from the outset.”
THESE MEN ARE RACE BAITING LIARS AND THE MEDIA WENT OFF HALF INFORMED JUST FOR THE INFLAMMATORY REACTIONS.
IT TAKES A LAYMEN LIKE MYSELF TO DO MY OWN INVESTIGATION TO FIGURE THIS GUY IS A LIAR AND I’M WONDERING IF I’LL GET AN APOLOGY
If you have been following the underlying controversy with any care, you know that Mr. Farrell has the better of this exchange. It is a highly instructive exchange illuminating the fabricated nature of the March 20 story peddled by Reps. Carson, Cleaver, Lewis and Clyburn. As I have written before, it is a scandal hiding in plain sight.