My colleague Erik Wemple has a curious item in his blog this morning with the headline “Milbank affirms ‘heckling’ at Newtown meeting.” This was quite a surprise, because I offered no such affirmation.
On the CNN show “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, I discussed coverage of a hearing in Connecticut in which gun-rights activists shouted at the father of one of the children slain in Newtown. Wemple quoted a fragment of a sentence of mine in which I said, “That looks like heckling to me.”
What Wemple didn’t tell his readers was that I was describing my initial reaction to the footage – five days earlier — before the controversy erupted. Here’s what I said on CNN:
I was on MSNBC the next day. They played the full clip for me. I said that looks like heckling to me. Now, you can argue about whether it’s heckling or whether he was being shouted at. Whatever it was, it was bad manners and it was inappropriate for this guy who lost his son, shot in the head, a month ago, to be doing that. But in terms of the editing, I think we can agree – it would have been a better picture to have the whole thing.
This is “affirming” heckling?
Wemple also neglected to mention that the segment he cited wasn’t primarily about heckling but about MSNBC’s editing of the video, which I and the other panelists agreed gave an incomplete view of what happened. I did say that, compared to the editing, MSNBC was on “much stronger ground” on the heckling question. Why? Because the account in the Connecticut Post, which clearly had a reporter in the room, had the headline “Father of Newtown victim heckled at hearing.”
Unlike that reporter, neither Wemple nor I was in the room. Neither of us is in a position to affirm anything. I didn’t, and he is mistaken to state that I did.