Drug dealers and 'shiners are notoriously hostile toward anyone snooping around, and Sparkman may well have stumbled onto some sort of criminal situation. . . .And now, via Hot Air, comes this interesting bit of news:
Let's wait to see what law enforcement discovers before jumping to any kind of politicized Let's-Blame-Glenn-Beck speculation.
Trosper said the initial AP story on the death contains “flaws and errors.” That means it’s possible that the AP’s claim, based on an anonymous source, that he had the word “fed” scrawled on his chest could be false. Asked if that were the case, Trosper declined to comment.In other words, don't believe everything you read. There are a couple of old newsroom sayings that apply here:
- The story too good to check. That is to say, a story which is so awesomely perfect in its illustration of some idea, you don't double-check to make sure the basic facts are right. If you're familiar with the Stephen Glass saga at The New Republic, you know how Glass cleverly fabricated stories about thuggish Republicans, selfish dot-com entrepreneurs, etc., which perfectly fit the preconceived biases of his liberal editors. Beware of this kind of "just so" story.
- If your mother says she loves you, check it out. Skepticism and attention to detail are vital to good news reporting. Spending 10 years as a news editor at The Washington Times, I often had to check to make sure that if a reporter wrote about Rep. Joe Jones (D-Texas), that Jones was actually a Democrat, actually from Texas, and actually was named Joe Jones and not James Jones or John James. Reporters sometimes get in a hurry and get things wrong, and if you forget to fact-check the small stuff, you're taking big risks, because sometimes the most significant clue that a story is essentially wrong is the presence of a few bogus "facts."
Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post -- who has done solid reporting on IG-Gate, by the way -- clarifies the misimpressions created by the AP story:
State and federal law enforcement officials on Thursday dismissed the suggestion from a news service report that the man, William Sparkman, 51, may have been targeted because he worked for the federal government, calling that speculative. . . .True story: Early one Saturday morning in 1996, it was my turn in the rotation of staffers at the Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune to travel down to Atlanta and cover the scene at the Olympics. Turned on the TV and saw that a bomb had gone off in Centennial Park the night before. Soon, anonymous "officials" were quoted pointing the finger of blame at security guard Richard Jewell -- and they were wrong.
"I think to give this impression that he was strung up because he was a federal employee is giving a bad impression to the nation," said David Beyer, spokesman for the FBI field office in Louisville, which is working with state officials on the investigation.
Jewell, it turned out, was something of a hero who actually helped victims at the bombing scene. The perpetrator was domestic terrorist Eric Rudolph. And yet, based on anonymous "officials," the national media spent the next several days depicting Jewell as the presumptive bomber. An injustice inflicted on an innocent man by a too-credulous media.
If your mother says she loves you, check it out.
More at Memeorandum.