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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Journalism takes a 1-2 punch

Ouch! Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Time reporter Matthew Cooper did little to further the professional stature of journalism yesterday with their testimony at the Scooter Libby trial.

Rory O'Connor, blogging for MBA writes of the defense picking apart Cooper's note-taking skills:

Jeffress continues to pick at Cooper’s sloppy notes and typos in an attempt to cast doubt on what his recollection says they mean. What exactly did Libby say to him? It’s pretty tough to say by examining the notes. We’ll have to decide whether to believe Cooper’s “recollection” is accurate — or not.

And later in that same post, he continues but also reminds us that Cooper's shorthand notwithstanding, this is still far from a knockout for the defense:

By hammering on Cooper’s incomplete, typo-ridden, reporter’s shorthanded notes, the defense is attempting to cast doubt on his contention that Libby told him anything about Valerie Plame or her CIA connection. Cooper can’t explain the gaps in his notes and emails, but adheres to his contention that his recollection of what Libby said to him is accurate.

Over at BTC News there's this roundup of the day's impact on media:

On the press watching front, the primary lessons of today’s action are that Matt Cooper and Judy Miller really need to brush up on their note-taking skills, and people who talk to Cooper and Miller should probably take their own contemporaneous notes in order to ensure that what gets printed bears some resemblance to what was said.

On the entertainment front, the big news is that according to Cheney advisor Mary Matalin, Russert, who will be testifying next week, hates Hardball host Chris Matthews, who was causing serious heartburn in the vice president’s office during the period in question. Matalin suggested Libby call Russert to complain about Matthews; Libby did so, and that conversation is the one during which Libby says he learned (or relearned, or re-relearned …) from Russert that Wilson was a CIA officer.

I'm not sure why typo-ridden notes are a problem. It's not as if it gets into print that way. I'd venture to say that most journalists have their own form of shorthand, which could prove problematic in the reporting process. But it's why we end every conversation with, "If I have any other questions or need some clarification, can I give you call?"

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