Is This Quote Okay? REDACTED

Posted by & filed under 2012 Election, Controlled by Parties, The IVA Angle, WTF?


“The President thinks REDACTED about the REDACTED, and is especially dissapointed in Mitt Romney’s REDACTED insistence on REDACTED.” – Potential defining quote of Campaign 2012, from REDACTED

On Sunday, the New York Times published an expose from the 2012 campaign trail entitled, “Latest Word on the Trail, I Take It Back.” In a story that shouldn’t surprise any cynical independent voter, Jeremy Peters described the practices of Obama and Romney campaign aides and surrogates when giving quotes to the media for use in stories:

“The quotations come back redacted, stripped of colorful metaphors, colloquial language and anything even mildly provocative.
They are sent by e-mail from the Obama headquarters in Chicago to reporters who have interviewed campaign officials under one major condition: the press office has veto power over what statements can be quoted and attributed by name.”

Safety first! And just in case anyone was worried about bias, the Romney campaign is just as guilty as Obama’s in what has become the new ‘best practice’ for dealing with the press is today’s 24 hour, Twittercentric, gaffe focused political news cycle.

“Quote approval is standard practice for the Obama campaign, used by many top strategists and almost all midlevel aides in Chicago and at the White House — almost anyone other than spokesmen who are paid to be quoted. (And sometimes it applies even to them.) It is also commonplace throughout Washington and on the campaign trail.

The Romney campaign insists that journalists interviewing any of Mitt Romney’s five sons agree to use only quotations that are approved by the press office. And Romney advisers almost always require that reporters ask them for the green light on anything from a conversation that they would like to include in an article…

It is a double-edged sword for journalists, who are getting the on-the-record quotes they have long asked for, but losing much of the spontaneity and authenticity in their interviews… Many journalists spoke about the editing only if granted anonymity, an irony that did not escape them. No one said the editing altered the meaning of a quote. The changes were almost always small and seemingly unnecessary, they said.”

Unfortunately for the public at large, this practice of quote approval undermines the accountability of both politicians and the press, an irony that wasn’t completely lost on the New York Times and the reporting author. If politicians and campaign talking heads are allowed to posthumously edit and filter their quotes, and journalists then have to pick and choose from proofread speech, how are we as the public supposed to trust politicians and the political media that the facts are being accurately reported? Where is the political and journalistic integrity or accountability?

While it’s easy to spot a problem like quote approval, Matt Gurney of the National Post offers some thought provoking analysis of why this might be an instance of missing the forest for the trees – that quote approval is part of the greater systematic failure of the political media:

“The Times is right that quote approval is bad. They are right that it is ironic that journalists and staffers wouldn’t go on the record for the story. But it is terribly ironic that they can’t seem to see why. Modern media has developed in such a way as to make it hard for us to expect anyone to willingly co-operate with us. That makes our jobs harder and does the public a disservice.

But you can’t blame the people in the most danger taking steps to protect themselves from what even well-intentioned coverage can do to their lives and careers once the rest of the media and the online commentariat get a hold of the quote. People aren’t just responsible for what they say anymore, but every possible interpretation, no matter how warped, of what they said. Who needs that?”

What do you think about quote approval? Our thoughts are pretty provocative – IVA’s REDACTED said  “REDACTED REDACTED.” [Ed. Note - Sorry, we had to 'fix up' these quotes...]

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2 Responses

  1. Bill July 18, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    When I went to journalism school, it was supposed to be all about finding out and reporting the truth. If they said it, report it. Many reporters use tape recorders to insure interview accuracy. If they said it, and you are reporting it accurately, JUST DO IT. We regular folks don’t get to have a rewind on everything we say or do. Neither should our candidates and elected officials.

  2. Annette Brown July 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Mitt Romney is a joke to talk about redacting anything. His mouth opens before they’d even have a chance to fix it; there would be nothing but black on the page. The amount of changing that he spouts without a thought of how much of a lie it is should amaze the average person even without a highschool diploma. How has it gotten to this point that people can say any perversion of truth they choose and no one calls them on it and the citizens don’t seem to even care! AMAZING… POB has issues with getting carried away. He dosen’t I think want to give any more ammo to GOP by putting on paper any “odd” words that may come out his mouth; possibly not politically correct type of words I’d imagine. If it were more than that, you best bet that someone (reporter, etc.) would bust him on it for the $. Basically I see no reason for redacting anything said on a campaign trail; Mitt Romney says any crazy thing he wants whenever he wants and we already know he’s going to take-out the rest of the middle class and totally destitute the poor down to the homeless poor with no food to eat AND President Obama needs to get somemore fire about him so I see not reason to hold back. We the middle majority have a very clear view of what they have been putting him through. We must pray the States that can change this deadlock DO THEIR DUTY and VOTE so we can have the Change we were promised. It’s not like POB hasn’t been trying…like working with spoiled children. PRAY for our Land


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