Don’t leave it to Cleaver, part 13

Over the weekend we received an email message from McClatchy News DC investigative editor James Asher promoting a current McClatchy story. Of all the news outlets that covered the fabricated March 20 story of Reps. Carson, Cleaver, Clyburn and Lewis regarding the racial abuse to which they (Carson and Lewis, anyway) were subjected by Tea Party/Obamacare protesters on Capitol Hill, McClatchy’s “Tea party protesters scream ‘nigger’ at black congressmen” may have been the worst.
In response to his message, I asked Asher if McClatchy News was ever going to investigate its own “Tea Party protesters scream” article of March 20. This was Asher’s response:

There is no reason to. The criticism is based on a video tape that depicted a different time and not the incident. And we feel confident that the congress members would not concoct their stories.
But thanks for reading mcclatchy.
J
James Asher
Investigative Editor
McClatchy Washington Bureau

I commented on Asher’s response here, pointing out his patent unfamiliarity with the relevant evidence as well as his touching faith in the politicians peddling the story. There are several videos of the congressmen coming and going from Cannon on March 20. We hear many voicings of “kill the bill.” We hear one “you arrogant prick.” We hear no n-word.
A few readers followed up with Asher on their own. We posted Asher’s exchange with reader Thomas Wictor here. To Asher’s chagrin, readers continued to email their dim view of his defense of McClatchy’s March 20 story. Referring to Asher’s messages quoted in part 12, reader David F. wrote Asher:

You have to do better than this.
Do you understand how this response shreds your credibility? The congress members would not concoct their stories.
Wow.

This message seems to have hit a nerve. Asher responded, complaining of the volume of messages he’d received (nobody knows the trouble he’s seen), asserting that I posted only a “snippet” of what he wrote (false; I omitted only the subsequent messages Asher and Wictor exchanged with each other, which I did not then have but which added nothing of substance in any event), and testifying to the glory of McClatchy News:

U know I’m getting a little tired of this. You are the 20th person to email me today about this.
Wud it surprise u to know that the snippet on the blog site is only a portion of what I wrote?
Wud it surprise you that it was taken from a private email exchange without me knowing it was to be posted.
Wud it surprise you to know that of all the news organizations in the nation, mcclatchy has the long track record for fairness and independence. We don’t just echo the powerful. Ask George Bush which reporters were the only ones to say there really was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction — reported before the invasion.
Add to that our reporting on alberto gonzales that ultimately caused him to resign or on the VA or FDA that caused them to actually protect our veterans and the citizenry at large.
Or our critiques of obama’s healthcare plan, his climate bill, his nuclear weapons program. Or our coverage of goldman sachs, moody’s and the SEC.
Go to www.mcclatchydc.com to read all our work.
On the tea party story, we evaluated our reporting, checked the sources and in the end feel comfortable that we are right about what we reported. We were afterall there.
Do u really have such faith in your fellow man to believe that bigotry and racism have disappeared from the hearts of all Americans. I wish that were truth, but I know it isn’t.
BTW, you might be interested in a Pew Foundation study of the opinions of tea party members. It came out last week.
Finally, I find it odd that before you learn anything about me or the journalism I do and after relying on a partisan blogger who so truncated my views, you quickly throw insults. I believe sir we have never met or talked before.
And really finally, if you want to call me tomorrow at work, I’d be happen to talk at length about journalism, america and the future of the democracy. In the meantime, read our site.
J
James Asher
Investigative Editor
McClatchy Washington Bureau

I wrote Asher on Sunday that the implication that I had edited any of his messages posted on Power Line was simply false. I invited him to provide us the full text of any message he wanted posted on Power Line and offered to post it verbatim. I added that I intended to post his exchange with David F. in full verbatim. If there was anything he wished to add, I invited him to submit it. I told him we would post it in full verbatim. Asher responded:

U may not have edited them, but u sure didn’t use everything I wrote and you didn’t tell me that an exchange with a “reader” would make it to your blog. As a journalist, I ALWAYS tell the person being interviewed that they are about to be published.
Since this is sunday, I’d like to spend the rest of my day with my fam.
Read our website and call me tomorrow at the office if you want a complete, and accurate account of mcclatchy’s journalism.
In the meantime, stop being strident and presumptive. You want to help solve the nation’s problems, listen before you denounce.
J
James Asher
Investigative Editor
McClatchy Washington Bureau

I wrote Asher that I had no interest in “a complete and accurate account of McClatchy’s journalism[.]” I was interested only in anything else he or McClatchy had to say about McClatchy’s March 20 “Tea Party protesters scream” story. If he or anyone else at McClatchy had anything to say, I offered to post it verbatim in full. Asher responded:

Let me send u a complete assessment monday. U owe it to me to have a thoughtful, and not brief response.
J
James Asher
Investigative Editor
McClatchy Washington Bureau

One senses that Asher is a piece of work. While quick to proclaim his professionalism and sensitivity, he does not hesitate to lay the personal abuse on a bit thick himself. Purporting to defend McClatchy’s March 20 story, he becomes a Dan Rather parody, simply invoking his authority to vouch for the accuracy of the facts in issue.
Earlier today I wrote Asher that if he had anything he wanted us to post in response to his demand (and my offer), he should submit it by 4:00 pm (EDT) today. The message above, asserting that we owe him the opportunity to express himself thoughtfully and at length, is the last we have heard from him.
Like the gentlemen of the Congressional Black Caucus in whom Asher has expressed such touching faith, Asher has gone uncharacteristically silent.
Big Journalism directly addresses McClatchy’s story in this post and in the new video below.

Mr. Asher, it’s over to you.

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