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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 08:26 AM ET, 03/22/2012

Media news derivatives: March 22

In case you missed it---“Bad boy” reporter Jason Mattera of Human Events posted an interview on Tuesday night. It was all about holding Bono accountable for his actions with respect to paying taxes. It was a tough interview, with Mattera pressing on all manner of issues and principles. He got few good answers. And that’s because the guy he was interviewing wasn’t actually Bono.

The mistake made Mattera the target of some Internet nastiness. People called him stupid. There’s no question that several circumstances might have led him to doubt the authenticity of his scoopy interview:

*The video suggests that there weren’t too many others clamoring to hang out with Mattera’s interviewee, and Bono is really famous.

*Mattera’s interviewee didn’t speak with an Irish accent.

*Mattera’s interviewee said over and over that he either had no control over U2 or didn’t do the things Mattera was asking about; Mattera likely concluded that those remarks made the video a blockbuster in abeyance. Instead, they merely reflected that the guy he was talking to was not Bono.

It’s very easy to ridicule someone when they make dumb mistakes. No exertion whatsoever required. Far better to credit the mistake maker with coming clean, as Mattera did. In response to an e-mail that I sent him on Wednesday morning, he delivered a nod to the Bono impersonator — Pavel Sfera — and said, “After scores of interviews with big-time politicians and celebrities, I finally got had. It was bound to happen sooner or later.”

Breitbart.com, a site that posted the story, didn’t do as well on the accountability front. It took down the story and posted this editor’s note: “Last night, we removed an article about Bono at the request of the videographer who had provided the links to the videos upon which the article had been based.”

Elsewhere:

*The Associated Press announces that it has hired McClatchy boss Gary Pruitt to replace outgoing CEO Tom Curley. From AP’s news release on the matter:

“The Associated Press is the most important news organization in the world and an essential force in democracy,” said Pruitt. “Tom Curley has made AP an industry leader in looking for new ways to grow in this digital era. AP’s work on digital platforms, e-commerce models and making video fully accessible opens doors for new audiences for AP, as well as AP print and broadcast members and customers. I’m honored to play a role in AP’s next phase of growth and innovation.”
Pruitt, 54, has served on the AP Board of Directors for nine years, including a period as vice chairman. He has worked for McClatchy for 28 years, being named president in 1995, CEO in 1996 and chairman in 2001.
“Gary’s experience spans a wide range of media, from print to digital, but he also has been closely involved in successful media advertising efforts and technology partnerships that play such a crucial role in the news industry today,” said Mary Junck, AP’s incoming chairman, who headed the search committee and is chairman and CEO of Lee Enterprises. “His commitment to high-quality news content mirrors AP’s values of accuracy, fairness and independence.”

How important is the job that Pruitt is doing? This line from the press release should give you an idea: “On any given day, more than half of the world’s population sees news from AP.” Wow, that’s one hell of a data point. Wonder how they made that calculation; will ask.

*Washington Post and Jack Shafer tilt at the burning question of how effective the White House can and should be in keeping stories about presidential children out of the news. WaPo’s Paul Farhi:

White House officials acknowledge that news organizations can’t exercise the same level of discretion when the president’s daughters are with him, because he’s a public figure. But they are nevertheless protective in public settings. When Obama was greeted by one of his daughters upon his return to the White House after a trip in June 2009, for example, press officers asked photographers not to distribute the shot to protect her privacy. Most complied with the request.

Reuters’ Shafer spanks the news organizations that recently took down stories about Malia Obama’s travel plans:

The willingness of the websites, both inside and outside the mainstream, to erase stories that personally offend the president — even if as a father he has a right to be offended — speaks poorly of the press. I can understand why powerful media outlets might be frightened of earning the animus of the president. They depend on White House access to report news. But the spinelessness displayed by the London Telegraph, Yahoo News, the Huffington Post, and the other self-redacting sites in the face of White House criticism makes me yearn for a press baron who is willing to stand by his mistakes, not secret them in the nearest dustbin. (Call me a latter-day Ed Anger, but I don’t want to live in a world in which it’s all right for the government to assemble databases of my every airline flight but the president goes space-alien wild about a news report of a trip his daughter has taken.)

*Piers Morgan asks Ann Romney about the Etch a Sketch story. Host shows woeful lack of familiarity with this childhood standby, calling it “Etch and Sketch.”

*Sandra Fluke says that she’s been encouraged to run for office.

*Neighbor of George Zimmerman, the central figure in the Trayvon Martin case, claims that he has been “convicted in the public media and has already been sentenced to the gas chamber.”

By  |  08:26 AM ET, 03/22/2012

Tags:  jason mattera, human events, bono, jack shafer, paul farhi, washington post, reuters, associated press, tom curley, george zimmerman

 
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