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Reliable Sources Covers CBS And The Couric/McCain Editing Scandal

Many bloggers have been covering the Couric/McCain editing scandal since it began. CNN's Reliable Sources picked it up for a few minutes and even the

Many bloggers have been covering the Couric/McCain editing scandal since it began. CNN's Reliable Sources picked it up for a few minutes and even the MSMers agreed.

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KURTZ: That is not what McCain said right after Katie said, "What's your response to that?" And we see these pictures now of McCain with General Petraeus. That was used to cover an editing break, where then they substituted -- not substituted, but added another answer that McCain had given from elsewhere in the interview.

STEVE ROBERTS: Well, I teach ethics at George Washington University. I would use this as a case study of what you should not do.

I was able to get the text of CBS' own in-house guidelines on their editing practices.

Answers to different questions may not be combined to give the impression of one continuous response. In short, we cannot create an answer merely because we wish the subject had said it better.

CBS violated their own standards. At the end of the segment, Howard Kurtz said this:

KURTZ: CBS says that this was, in fact, a mistake made by a young producer under deadline pressure.

CBS's latest excuse for breaking their own journalistic ethics is a farce. Their first response to this story was to say that it was no big deal:

Of the 14-minute interview, a little less than three minutes was used on the Evening News. A CBS spokesperson tells TVNewser, “As all news organizations do with extended interviews, last night’s Obama and McCain interviews were edited to fit the available time and to give viewers a fair expression of the candidates’ major differences. The full transcript and video were and still are available at CBSNews.com.”

Now they blame a young producer for being under time pressure. OK, let's get this straight. <added>Sources have told me that The CBS Evening News is their major "hard news" program of the day and they certainly would not have had a rookie running the show for a major John McCain interview with Katie Couric. And there are many others involved in the editing process that know the CBS guidelines who would have caught this blunder. Sorry, their excuse doesn't pass the smell test.

(full transcript below the fold)

KURTZ: That is not what McCain said right after Katie said, "What's your response to that?" And we see these pictures now of McCain with General Petraeus. That was used to cover an editing break, where then they substituted -- not substituted, but added another answer that McCain had given from elsewhere in the interview.

You've done a lot of these TV packages. Obviously, things have to be truncated for time. But can you take answers out of order like that?

CROWLEY: Well, you know, I'm more worried about out of context than out of order. But I think as a general rule, you shouldn't take things out of order in a package, like in a, you know, he said three things and here they are. I don't see a problem if he's answering a question on the economy, putting that first even if he answered the economy second after Iraq.

KURTZ: Sure.

CROWLEY: But I think out of context is a problem, and you run the risk out of context when you're out of order if it's the same subject.

KURTZ: Right.

Let me get to Steve.

What was left out was an explanation where McCain seemed to misstate the timing of the surge and how much credit the surge deserved.

STEVE ROBERTS: Well, I teach ethics at George Washington University. I would use this as a case study of what you should not do. First of all, you know, the mainstream media still has something to contribute in American politics, and it's veracity, it's trustworthiness. And when you make a stupid mistake like this, you undermine the very credibility of the mainstream media.

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