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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

KIS: A new series, introducing "theory uncorrected", and the Petraeus "controversy"

NEW CONCEPT: "theory uncorrected"

A first in what will likely be a theme of entries that I am calling KIS or "keeping it straight."  I notice this phenomenon where news outlets will talk about theories regarding a topic and present them in a way where it is almost like fact.  But they are just theories.  And they can be some pretty lofty theories.

The problem is, is that even though the media will lead us toward believing a notion- and they never really undo that.  They never "issue a correction" about their theory, they never make a hearty effort to remove this notion from our minds.  Corrections by the media (when they simply had something wrong) are pretty low-key (on the back page etc-) they don't like to be wrong because it reflects on their "journalistic integrity."  But there is a lower bar in this 24 hour news cycle and they need to fill it with something (often these theories).

The only correction that is issued in these cases is one that is implicit.  They report the facts later on as facts, and leave it up to the consumer to recognize that there is a connection between these facts and the older theories and reconcile on their own that what was said earlier was just a theory.  This a great deal of expectation for an average consumer of news and effectively stands as a "theory uncorrected."  So I am going to try to detect these situations and report them here... and first up: the Petraeus "controversay..."

At this point I would like to stress that with KIS and when I address news topics here on iflobs, I am often trying to make a point about the way we understand the topic and/or offer a new perspective to it... not to present a partisan position.

This is an unfolding story... so I am not even going to touch on whether or not there is anything worth making such a big deal out of (as is happening right now).  I will focus on one aspect which falls into this "theory uncorrected" that is still out there today.  I do not need to provide a reference for the theory because I think you will recognize it when I articulate it, in this case the idea that the ordeal was hidden away from congressman and others to help re-elect Barack Obama.  You have heard this right?  Some reader in the future, and frankly I will probably lose this notion in time... but it is good in.. well at least my head now.

I will offer up one reference that touches on this, and I will grant that according to Wikipedia this is recognized as a tabloid.  But at this point, given how search engines work it would probably be hard to find a link from a respectable news outlet that has something like this up (this gets at another concern of mine- that with "dynamic" news articles can "disappear").  The Daily Mail has this article titled Obama cover-up claim over CIA chief's affair: Was the relationship discovered by FBI months ago, but hushed up due to election? And it says in-part:
Congress is expected to investigate claims that the affair was hushed up to protect Obama’s re-election campaign.
It is believed the affair was discovered by the FBI months ago, but not made public until after the election.
Again I acknowledge that this is a tabloid... but this was in other major outlets before. (I will post better references later).  Also please know that the article is preserved here (in case it disappears).

There is much much more out there that built this impression of a cover-up.  I promise more references... but this notion that there was a cover-up... is really what we are talking about.  And it is quickly debunked... in fact Eric Cantor a senior Republican in Congress knew about it much earlier and this article from the AFP titled Cantor mum on why kept Petraeus scandal from Congress (preserved here) discusses the matter:

...Senior US Republican lawmaker Eric Cantor defended his role Wednesday in the David Petraeus scandal, saying he had relied on the FBI to keep Congress informed about its probe of the CIA chief...
..."The information that was sent to me sounded as if there was a potential for a national security vulnerability," he said. 
The senior lawmaker reportedly learned from an FBI source on October 27 that an agency investigation of suspicious emails had discovered that Petraeus was having an extramarital affair.
The White House and congressional leaders are said to have only learned of the scandal last week. Petraeus abruptly resigned on Friday.... 
Well what do you know here is a worthy reference that speaks itself of the understanding that congress only learned of the matter last week (the week after the election). But Mr. Cantor, a republican in congress knew about it in October.  Unless we are to believe that Mr. Cantor participated in an outright cover-up... I submit that the evidence is quite strong that there was no cover-up.

THE THEORY: A cover-up of the Petraeus controversy, hiding it from republican lawmakers.
THE FACT: A republican lawmaker cannot answer for how he treated his knowledge of information he had.
EXPECTATION: The news consumer realizes that hiding the information makes little sense as it would involve a high-profile figure with an almost certain interest in exposing it.

I will grant that the investigation is not over.  And I may be wrong. I will definitely revisit this in the future. I still consider this is a valid material in the new KIS series... as "keeping it straight" is a process as a story develops.  I hope the concept of "theory uncorrected" is somewhat defined for you at this point.  If it is not- I am sure it will become so as more of these example are presented in the future.

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