Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 5, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE....Is the media to blame for reporting that 12 miners had been found alive in the Sago mine disaster, only to report hours later that they were all dead? Ellen Smith, editor of Mine Safety and Health News, says probably not. Instead, she fingers a different culprit:


Don't blame the media. First, the mine owners did nothing to correct the misinformation for three hours, a mistake they admit. However, I also know that in past accidents, the press office of the Mine Safety and Health Agency has played a significant, and sometimes exclusive role, in successfully communicating with the families and media, allowing the company to deal with the crisis. In this case, MSHA sent down Dirk Fillpot from Labor Dept. headquarters. Although Fillpot is not to blame for the horrific miscommunication that led families to believe for three hours that their loved-ones were alive, he has absolutely no experience in dealing with mine disasters, unlike two highly qualified and seasoned press people Rodney Brown and Amy Louviere who sat back at MSHA headquarters in Arlington twiddling their thumbs. And who was in charge at headquarters? Suzy Bohnert another person with absolutely no experience in dealing with mine disasters and the confusion that the situation brings, and who in fact, has given out incorrect information in the past due to her lack of knowledge of MSHA policies and past practices. I cannot imagine that Amy or Rodney would have let this incorrect information go unanswered for so long. In the past, MSHA has stepped up to the plate when the company failed in communications during past disasters. It's time for the agency to recognize its role in this media and family nightmare. Kevin Drum 11:42 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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Comments

Is there a link for Ms. Smith's comment? There doesn't seem to be a website for her magazine.

Posted by: kenobi on January 5, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

The initial report was correct. The "rescue" team snuffed the survivors to cover up the mine infractions. They did this on the orders of the Bush Administration.

Posted by: Conspiracy Theorist ph.D. on January 5, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.minesafety.com/

Posted by: lib on January 5, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter Ellen: It's all BUSH'S FAULT!

Posted by: Al on January 5, 2006 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Is "Dirk Fillpot" really that guy's name? Or is that name just one he made up for his career in porn?

Posted by: Farinata X on January 5, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

I blame the media, but not specifically for reporting the false information. The problem stems from creating the Dramatic Situation in the first place. Camped-out reporters, 24-hour coverage, breaking news, etc. Basically treating this event the same as a missing white girl, or the Jacko trial.

Under these conditions, everyone's under pressure to be one of the first to break the big news. You can't wait for confirmation, or you'll be scooped.

As horrible a tragedy this was, it's not our fucking business to know breathless, up-to-the-minute details on it. They've got to (but won't) stop reporting the drama.

Posted by: PapaJijo on January 5, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

So your saying the media is not to blame for spreading false information around the globe based simple on a rumor?

My local newspaper was left for sale all day with this false reporting on the entire front page. You telling me they couldn't have sent people out to pick up those false papers?

They wanted a scoop, they wanted to be first and to hell with being right or accurate...thats for journalism school professors.

Posted by: Patton on January 5, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Do you also believed 10,000 people died in New Orleans, that sharks were in Lake Ponchatrain searching for more people to eat, that 100 people died in the convention center, that the levees were blown up, etc. etc. etc.

Posted by: Patton on January 5, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

It gets back to that old Paul Newman movie,

The press doesn't report the truth, they report what people say, they eavsdrop, they overhear, and to hell with the truth.

Posted by: Patton on January 5, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Heckva job Suzi !!!

"...a culture of hiring children to do work that requires experience leads to childish results." - Robert Cahn

Posted by: daCascadian on January 5, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Well, imagine this. A member of the media telling us the media isn't to blame. I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked!

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 5, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Why does George Bush hate miners?

:-)

Posted by: Robert on January 5, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

because Clinton loved minors?

Posted by: lib on January 5, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

As usual the real issue, which is the mine's actual safety, the role of OSHA and MSHA in preventing worker deaths, is ignored in favor of a pointless hysteria over who said what when in the media. I care far more about the media covering up major political crimes like the warantless wiretapping than I do a sad, pathetic, brief floating of an unconfirmable death toll. Waiting a year to publish an explosive and true story on the president's usurpation of powers? Serious. Rushing to print happy feel good news that turns out to be wrong? Merely stupid.

aimai

Posted by: aimai on January 5, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

You forgot the most important news:


1-Pete for former national champions USC.

2003-LSU
2004-USC
2005-Texas

Posted by: derek g on January 5, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Well, considering that mining interests run the MSHA, thier funding was cut, a whistleblower was fired, and Alito is on record as being for said mining interests at the expense of the miners, I would say it is not too far fetched to think the ill-fated story was allowed to happen, if not out-right manufactured, for the express reasons of deversion and deflection. (link)

Posted by: ww on January 5, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

It has been said well enough already, but yes, the media is responsible that their reports be accurate. And:"Unnamed source says moon is made of Parmesan." is not accurate reporting. If they can't do that, then they should remain silent and give me the sports scores and weather.

It is really as simple as that. Facts.

"X" is not a fact because someone said it.
That someone said "X" is a fact, but usually not a very interesting fact in itself, and if "X" is not a fact, is pretty much an intentional deception on the part of the reporter. A proposition is given undue weight and credence by being reported.

Posted by: bob mcmanus on January 5, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

It's a brush backfire, a red herring, or poisoning the pool. How can we now have a conversation about the death sentence of working for cheap mining companies without federal oversight, when this issue will keep cropping up in its place? I agree with WW above.

Posted by: jim on January 5, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, the big story will be the media, and the story that will be buried- with the miners- is the failure of the MSHA.

Posted by: JR on January 5, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Well, imagine this. A member of the media telling us the media isn't to blame. I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked!

Almost as shocking as the Bush administration telling us that they can be trusted to not abuse their national security powers and that their administration is not to blame for the poor economy at home and the disaster that's been Iraq.

Still got those lips locked so tightly to Bush's buttocks that you can't see past his ass-cheeks, eh conspiracy nut?

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 5, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

We should only blame the media if they continue to focus on the "how we got the story wrong and why it's not our fault" angle, instead of looking as to why this company has had so many disasters, what Bush's defanging of the regulators might have had to do with it, how we can make future mine disasters less likely, whether the mine owners are culpable, etc.

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 5, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Damn Advocate, are you so lacking in anything to say here that you have to fall back on the tired "Bush lied, people died!"

I remember how well that worked, swept Kerry to victory it did.

Don't know what it has to do with this, but then again, understanding the inner workings of the moonbat mind is not somewhere I want to go.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 5, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Damn Advocate, are you so lacking in anything to say here that you have to fall back on the tired "Bush lied, people died!"

Damn conspiracy nut, are you so lacking in intellectual integrity that you must as a standard operating procedure lie about what others have posted, falling back on the same old tired defamatory and dishonest attacks that the Bush administration loves so much!

BTW, Bush did lie and people did die as a result.

Deal with it.

Your hero is a moron as well as a moral midget.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 5, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: . . . but then again, understanding the inner workings of the moonbat mind is not somewhere I want to go.

And yet, you've always boasted that you've already been there.

I guess that makes you the moonbattiest of all!

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 5, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: 流行歌曲 on January 5, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate
I get the distinct impression that you are trying to derail this thread. Isn't that kind of trollish behaviour?

Besides, you're taking over my job. What would the union say?

Oh, and if you have such a compelling argument about Bush lying, why do you suppose we're not saying "President Kerry" right now?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 5, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush Administration has figured out the public relations of avoiding blame. They simultaneously attack ("You're damn right we eavesdropped on citizens -- lives were at stake!") and play the "straw victim" game ("Don't let 'them' insult our sons and daughters bravely fighting in Iraq") while they provide patronage jobs on Capitol Hill and K Street to incompetent hacks.

In my opinion Bush doesn't get blamed nearly enough for the consequences of the debasement of government that has occurred under his one-party rule.

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on January 5, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

I don't realy blame anybody about the miscommunication. It was an honest mistake made out of excitement. Thats all. Unfortunately it was information that caused additionaly horrific grief.
I'm gonna put out my torch and go home. I won't be part of the angry mob who lynches the culprit.

Posted by: Lurker42 on January 5, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Lurker,

When your job is communications and you communicate the completely wrong message, it shows a lack of professionalism.

The consequences of the screw-up in WV are not as serious as in Louisiana (ie, no additional lives will be lost), but the pattern of communication blunders and misrepresentation is all of a type with the current Administration.

Sago simply confirms the Administration's ongoing lack of credibility in its important public statements (Niger uranium, Iraqi WMDs, mission accomplished, buses are coming, miners are rescued).

This is pitiful. Sad and pitiful.

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on January 5, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

It's amazing how the MSM is jumping all over the inaccurate reports (which did not change the results - the miners were already dead), yet blatant lies from BushCo are reported every day (causing people to lose their lives) and no one is up in arms. Bread & circuses!

Posted by: CParis on January 5, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

"Don't blame the media."

Well, why not? The media's job is to get the story right. They didn't and they should apologize for it. All this passing the buck is rather small of them, imo.

Posted by: JJF on January 5, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK
Although Fillpot is not to blame for the horrific miscommunication that led families to believe for three hours that their loved-ones were alive, he has absolutely no experience in dealing with mine disasters, unlike two highly qualified and seasoned press people Rodney Brown and Amy Louviere who sat back at MSHA headquarters in Arlington twiddling their thumbs. And who was in charge at headquarters? Suzy Bohnert another person with absolutely no experience in dealing with mine disasters and the confusion that the situation brings, and who in fact, has given out incorrect information in the past due to her lack of knowledge of MSHA policies and past practices.

The Bush Administration: run by amateurs. How did they find all these people -- was there a drawing if you sent in X amount of dollars to the RNC?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on January 5, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Ho hum. Media again involved in serious navel gazing. Boooorrrrrinnnnggg.

273 safety violations in the past two years, 16 of them serious. Regulatory agency turned over to the interests it's supposed to be regulating. Appointees with no experience but plenty of partisan loyalty. Same-o same-o. Not the kind of "news" our corporatized media wants to cover.

Where's the blond in distress? THAT's news!

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 5, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Oh, and if you have such a compelling argument about Bush lying, why do you suppose we're not saying "President Kerry" right now?

I guess that means that Clinton didn't lie either or commit any malfeasance while in office or even before since we weren't saying "President Dole" during the late 90's or "President Bush" during the mid 90's.

Your logic is stunningly inept.

You can now, since you clearly have nothing to say, return your lips to Bush's behind where they belong.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 5, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Is Suzie Bohnert related to the Republican upstate NY Congressman?

What is everyone getting so excited for, anyway? The people injured are just coal miners' relatives who can't give big bucks to the Republican Party, and can't sue anyone rich or important for mental anguish? Anyone who thinks there's something wrong just because this mine has a safety record many times worse than most others is probably a communist or a terrorist, anyway.

Posted by: keith on January 5, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate
Still trying to derail the thread? I knew you moonbats weren't as big of union supporters as you claim. Otherwise you'd respect the proper division of labor.

Unskilled moonbats scabbing on a real man's job...

Oh, and the reason we weren't saying President Bush for 4 more years or President Dole was Ears Perot. You'll remember Clinton's vote totals, right?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 5, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

The media doesn't report facts so much as it reports the news. Should they be swatted for reporting unverified claims that resulted in undue grief? Absolutely they should. Should we expect better? Yes. Do we? No. Fool me once, never get fooled again.

Ultimately the lions share of blame goes to the source who told the falsehood, not the one(s) who repeated it. Easy, right?

Posted by: ww on January 5, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

So, if conspiracy nut sez "moonbat" enough times, will he will win the argument?

Really though, the job of the media is to sell eyes and ears to corporations, nothing more.

There's no upside to getting anything right, no penalty to getting it wrong, as long as they can hold the eyes and ears.

So what if the media looks bad from time to time, as long as they can hold the eyes and ears.

What a corrupt nation.


Posted by: Joey G. on January 5, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

No offence but aren't professional journalists meant to ask a company guy for comment before they run with something?

Strange how quality control for the media is now the job of government...and how declassifying information is now the job of the media.

Sure this isn't another reach to blame BUSH!

Posted by: McAristotle on January 6, 2006 at 6:40 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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