KHQA retracts Blago-Obama meeting reports

posted at 7:48 am on December 11, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday I expressed some skepticism over two reports from KHQA that put Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich in a meeting to discuss his Senate successor a day after winning the presidential election, on November 5th.  I searched both major Chicago newspapers to find substantiation, and could find no mention of any meeting at all.  The only reporting came in the Sun-Times, which reported that Blagojevich said on November 5th that he had not met with Obama, at a point in time when Blagojevich had no reason to lie.  KHQA then followed up on the 8th with another report apparently confirming their first.

Late last night, KHQA retracted both reports and removed them from their website (via Political Machine):

KHQA TV wishes to offer clarification regarding a story that appeared last month on our website  The story, which discussed the appointment of a replacement for President Elect Obama’in the U.S. Senate, became the subject of much discussion on talk radio and on blog sites Wednesday.

The story housed in our website archive was on the morning of November 5, 2008. It suggested that a meeting was scheduled later that day between President Elect Obama and Illinois Governor Blagojevich. KHQA has no knowledge that any meeting ever took place.  Governor Blagojevich did appear at a news conference in Chicago on that date.

KHQA’s management doesn’t quite get around to apologizing for their sloppy reporting here.  In the first place, they reported it twice, and they hardly “suggested” the meeting.  Here’s what they wrote on November 5th:

He’s meeting with Governor Rod Blagojevich this afternoon in Chicago to discuss it.

Does that sound like a “suggestion” of a meeting?  They were no less explicit on the 8th, when they reported that the meeting had taken place using themselves as their only source, in a story their retraction doesn’t bother to mention:

Obama met with Governor Rod Blagojevich earlier this week to discuss it.

KHQA blew the reporting.  They had no real information on this meeting; they made it up out of whole cloth, and explicitly reported it twice with no corroboration.  Under normal circumstances, no one would have ever thought to double-check these brief reports, but Blagojevich’s arrest for corruption made KHQA’s reports famous.

Now they’re embarrassed, and they’re trying to worm out of it by claiming to be misunderstood.  Instead of insulting their readers by claiming that they jumped to conclusions that KHQA reporters explicitly provided them in the articles, KHQA management should apologize for their bad reporting.

In any event, other than David Axelrod’s assertion on November 23rd that Obama and Blagojevich discussed the Senate succession, no independent reporting found thus far puts the two of them on the phone together or in the same room strategizing on Obama’s replacement.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that such a meeting took place — it would make sense, politically, for Blagojevich to consult Obama on potential candidates even if Blagojevich wasn’t corrupt — but people will have to look harder for evidence.

Update: Tommy Christopher at AOL’s Political Machine tried calling KHQA to get a better explanation of their retraction.  Be sure to read the post to see their response.

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Tom Shipley’s all right. He and I exchange e-mails from time to time, and he’s actually a pretty nice guy. He has assigned himself the task of MSM apologist here, which is fine with me, because his brother’s a very good sports reporter in this area. He has a right to his opinion — as do I, and that’s mostly what I do here.

Do I do some reporting? From time to time, but for the most part, this is an opinion site, as are all blogs. I have a point of view, and I criticize reporting when I think its poor (and on occasion praise it when I think it’s good).

I’m not sure how Tom can defend this as a “retraction”, though, when KHQA only went so far as to say they “suggested” a meeting and implied that their readers assumed too much. They explicitly reported a meeting and then tried weaseling out of that admission. As always, Tom has a higher standard for bloggers than he does the MSM, which is exactly what one expects from an apologist.

I’d also note that my original post on the KHQA reports were heavily skeptical of their reporting, and that I was proven correct.

Ed Morrissey on December 11, 2008 at 12:16 PM

He has assigned himself the task of MSM apologist here

That is correct! I’m also a Paul McCartney apologist.

I’m not sure how Tom can defend this as a “retraction”, though

Well, they do retract the story. I think you’re kind of nit-picking by criticizing the word “suggest.” Yes, they should have used the word “report” or “reported,” but the substance of the retraction was, “we were wrong, what we said was not true.”

My point is that with your post yesterday, you made a charge, didn’t back it up with any facts and there won’t be any “retracting” in the coming months when no one fails to prove your charge.

I don’t hold bloggers to a higher standard, I just hold them to the standard that reporters already hold themselves to.

Tom Shipley’s all right.

And for the record, I think Ed’s alright too. I try not to get personal in my criticism, but if I’ve ever crossed the line, I apologize.

Tom_Shipley on December 11, 2008 at 12:50 PM

I’d also note that Ed is very gracious in putting up with me. When I criticize him, it’s never against him — I don’t go out looking to criticize Ed Morrissey, but I do happen to visit this page a lot and he happens to criticize the media a lot and I’m compelled to respond a lot.

Tom_Shipley on December 11, 2008 at 12:58 PM

I’ve never taken it personally, and like I said, I think you’re a good guy. You will owe me a beer when you visit the Twin Cities, though. (I’ll owe you the second one.)

Ed Morrissey on December 11, 2008 at 1:04 PM

True! I’ve only been up a couple times recently, and both times were booked solid. But next time I’ll find time.

Tom_Shipley on December 11, 2008 at 1:10 PM

I think it is cool you 2 are taking a high road here. Hey Ed, your mention of the Chinese economy made the Rush show today. Apparently you are on his must read list now. Kudos

karenhasfreedom on December 11, 2008 at 2:13 PM

Awww. I think that’s sweet you two are kissing and making up.
Good show of good form, fellers!
If you two decide to take it one step farther and mate, and have offspring, I would think it might look like an:

I would think that the lil one would get the ‘octo’ from Ed side.

and the….rest…he would get from Shipley.

I KID! >:)

Handel on December 11, 2008 at 2:24 PM

Handel on December 11, 2008 at 2:24 PM

You were washed up after The Messiah!

Tom_Shipley on December 11, 2008 at 3:56 PM

This is the kind of thing that really pisses me off. Obama is given a pass. No one wants to investigate. Someone said it didn’t happen…so that’s it. It didn’t happen.
God forbid they’d give anyone with an (R) by their name the same latitude.

SuperManGreenLantern on December 11, 2008 at 8:07 AM

Of course Democrats are given a pass. Their hearts are in the right place, don’t you know. With the media, a Republican is always assumed to be guilty until proven innocent, and even then the smear remains. (See per diem, tanning bed, state trooper.) With Democrats, the effort is to bend over backward to grasp at any and every possible exonerating straw.

ddrintn on December 11, 2008 at 5:21 PM