Healy says that “given the amount of attention” the Kerry comment eventually received, and given that Healy was “the only [reporter] who had a tape of the exchange,” he decided to revisit the recording Monday to “get all of the context and write a full transcript of the exchange” so that other reporters in the Kerry corps would have “as much context as possible.” (Pool reporters, Healy says, transcribe entire events if they’re “huge news events” but for this relatively small fundraiser he initially offered the pool a transcription of “most of it.”)
Reviewing the March 8 tape in the quiet of his own home Healy says he realized that Kerry had said “more leaders” and not “foreign leaders.” Hence, Healy’s mea culpa email Monday and yesterday’s news reports on the misreporting of Kerry’s comments.
Now for the misreporting on the misreporting of Kerry’s comments.
As yesterday’s Boston Globe points out, human error compounded human error. Although Healy, the Globe’s own reporter, made the original mistake, the Globe clarified that Kerry never (italics ours) “said he had ‘met with’ foreign leaders,” as “some accounts have reported.” Those erroneous “accounts” began March 12, four days after the Florida fundraiser, when the Washington Times ran a story by Charles Hurt and Stephen Dinan that provided this doubly wrong version of Kerry’s words (italics ours): “I’ve met with foreign leaders who can’t go out and say this publicly …” The “met with” version popped up on television again by mid-day March 12 when CNN’s Tucker Carlson repeated the error on “Crossfire”. Then this past weekend, on “Fox News Sunday,” Chris Wallace read Powell the incorrect “met with” version of the quote while the correct version (at the time), “I’ve met foreign leaders,” flashed on screen for the viewer. The error found its way into print again in Monday’s Washington Post.
The Washington Times continued to perpetuate this “met with” error yesterday, even as it attempted to correct the record per Healy’s e-mail. In yesterday’s paper, a story by Stephen Dinan and Joseph Curl stated, “Mr. Healy yesterday sent an update to members of the traveling press corps telling them that after listening to his tape of Mr. Kerry, he now thinks the senator said he has ‘met with more leaders,’ not ‘met with foreign leaders.’”
As noted above, Healy actually wrote in his email that he had incorrectly “heard” the words ‘foreign leaders’ rather than ‘more leaders,’” and “am certain that ‘more leaders’ is what Senator Kerry said.” Additionally, nowhere does Healy suggest that the word “with” — as in “met with” — belongs in the official record.
For those of you still reading, in sum, what Kerry apparently said on March 8 was, “I’ve met more leaders who …” rather than “I’ve met with foreign leaders who …”
Healy is to be commended for making the effort to correct his initial misquote. Will the Washington Times, Fox News Channel, CNN or the Washington Post correct their misquotes of Healy’s misquote? And might the Kerry campaign rethink its pooling policies? Having several scribes recording your every word can sometimes be useful. After all, reporters are only human.