An Example of (Probably) Criminal Journalistic Malpractice
The Journalistic Malpractice
On July 21st HutchNews.com printed a retraction (at http://www.hutchnews.com/editorialblogs/edit-congress-withdraw-endorsement–1 ) of their endorsement of a Kansas primary candidate for the US House, because :
“it turns out Mann is what is known as a birther. He questions the citizenship of President Barack Obama despite evidence that is irrefutable to most objective, rational people – including a birth certificate released by the Hawaii secretary of state and birth announcements printed in Honolulu’s two major newspapers.”
That simple statement contains a big inaccuracy. The Hawaii Secretary of State has never released Obama’s birth certificate, nor has the Hawaii Department of Health (who has the BC) nor anybody in Hawaii. Obama’s campaign published an online image of a COLB which went through 2 or 3 alterations on various websites before it finally surfaced at Factcheck.org as scanned photographs of what was claimed to be Obama’s genuine COLB. Politifact published an article (at http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2008/jun/27/obamas-birth-certificate-part-ii/ ) in which Janice Okubo, communications director for the Hawaii Department of Health, concluded that .
“I don’t know that it’s possible for us to even say beyond a doubt what the image on the site represents”
The substance of dozens of court cases is that various people are asking that the genuine birth certificate from the Hawaii Department of Health be released. Obama’s lawyers have fought every case on the ground of standing – that it is nobody’s place to force Obama and/or the HDOH to reveal Obama’s genuine birth certificate.
So when Hutch News said – out of the blue – that the Hawaii Secretary of State had already released Obama’s birth certificate, they displayed a total ignorance of what the “birther” issue even IS. Yet they castigated the objective rationality of anybody who wants the genuine legal document to be released.
The Hutch News retraction was mentioned on national TV by Rachel Maddow, and people on the Hutch News website praised The Hutch News for their courage in confronting those terrible, ignorant, irrational “birthers”. Apparently they had no clue what a huge inaccuracy the Hutch News had just posted – an inaccuracy that revealed a lack of even the most basic comprehension regarding the eligibility issue.
So I contacted the editor of The Hutch News, asking for a correction(either by their own statement or by posting my letter to the editor) to the blatantly false statement that the HI SOS had released Obama’s birth certificate and alerting them to some of the facts documented on my blog (which I linked), that
- Okubo has said outright that the law forbids her from telling even law enforcement whether the Factcheck COLB is a forgery,
- That the Hawaii DOH has actually indirectly confirmed, in 2 different ways, that the Factcheck COLB is a forgery, and
That because the HDOH has made a statutory admission that Obama’s birth certificate has been amended, even the genuine birth certificate in Hawaii is legally worthless; it has no more legal evidentiary value than Monopoly money.
This is the response that I received:
You’re right, technically that is incorrect. To be precise we should have stated that the Obama campaign released the birth certificate but that Hawaii officials from the Department of Health have verified its legitimacy. But that is not materially important, and I am not going to engage in any of your continued speculation, which includes publishing your letter. If that is how you care to spend your time, have at it and continue the debate on your blog or wherever. But we are comfortable this has been well researched and determined and isn’t something to which we will devote more time and space.
Zooooooom!! That’s the sound of the facts going right over the head of a “rational” person who considers himself responsible to inform the public on vital issues.
Thinking that he had perhaps not bothered to read my entire e-mail, I responded to him with this:
John, to be precise – as I have stated and documented on my blog – the HDOH has NOT verified the Factcheck COLB’s legitimacy, nor can they legally do so (according to their own claims).
You still are not grasping the basic facts of this issue, and are thus misreporting it.
As journalists, you have a responsibility to correct errors that you have made in your reporting. Are you telling me that you will not correct this error?
In 2 days it will be a month that I’ve waited for a response. And no correction has been made.
Why it’s Probably Criminal
What The Hutch News may not have considered is that issues under the jurisdiction of the federal government are impacted by the facts of whether a genuine birth certificate has ever been released and whether the HDOH has ever actually confirmed that the Factcheck COLB is genuine. There are court cases pending, an FBI investigation has been requested, a court-martial is in progress regarding this very issue, Congress is having to decide whether to accept SCOTUS justices nominated by a potentially fraudulent president, and the issue has been referred by Lt Col Lakin’s Congressman to a House committee on military affairs.
Most people realize that it is immoral for a news company to refuse to issue corrections when they become aware of an inaccuracy in what they have published. What most people – including possibly The Hutch News – may not know is that if they play fast and loose with the facts in a matter under the jurisdiction of any of the 3 branches of federal government, they could be found guilty of violating the Federal General False Statement Act – 18 U.S.C. 1001:
I. Except as otherwise provided in this section,
II. whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial
branch of the Government of the United States,
III. knowingly and willfully –
IV. a. falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
b. makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
c. makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any
materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, imprisoned not more than 8 years if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331) or if the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A (sexual abuse), 109B (sex offender registration), 110 (sexual exploitation), or 117(transportation for illicit sexual purposes), or Section 1591 (sex trafficking)……..
The law is described, beginning on p 15 at http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/98-808.pdf , including the following:
“Although the offense can only be committed “knowingly and willfully,” the prosecution need not prove that the defendant knew that his conduct involved a “matter within the jurisdiction”of a federal entity nor that he intended to defraud a federal entity. Instead, the phrase “knowingly and willfully” refers to the circumstances under which the defendant made his statement, omitted a fact he was obliged to disclose, or included with his false documentation, i.e., “that the defendant knew that his statement was false when he made it or – which amounts in law to the same thing – consciously disregarded or averted his eyes from the likely falsity.”
I intend to do a more complete post later, concerning The Federal General False Statement Act – which I believe has been violated by a multitude of people within both the federal government and the Hawaii government. Obama concealed from both Congress and the courts that the COLB published by his own campaign website was a forgery. I intend to post letters from members of Congress saying that they would not contest the certification because they believed the (forged) Factcheck COLB, the (misunderstood and not corrected) statements by Hawaii officials, and the (false) media reports concerning the issue.
For right now, I give this small example of The Hutch News because it reflects what has gone on in every news room in the nation in the past 2 years, despite the diligent and tireless efforts of people like myself who have contacted the media to correct factual errors in their reportin on this issue.
With this post I am serving notice to the media – which has misreported this issue all along – that we see what you have been doing, we know that it is illegal, what you’ve already done is on the record that will eventually come before Darrell Issa’s House Ethics Committee (Lord willing), and we will be watching you very closely from here on out to see whether you “consciously disregard or avert (your) eyes from the likely falsity” of your own claims in light of the information we provide you – which is documented by actual communications from the Hawaii Department of Health. You ignore us at your own peril.