Astoundingly Bad Reporting On Ed Snowden: Claims He Said The Exact Opposite Of What He Said

from the now-that's-impressive-journalism dept

Update: The original article I had seen, on the ABC Australia site has now been "updated" with a correction. It turns out that it was actually just carelessly running a piece from the AFP wire. The AFP piece (sometimes edited, sometimes not) can be seen on MSN.com, Yahoo and the AFP directly. However, I think that first sentence below was a bad summary by the ABC site of the bad reporting by AFP, since none of the others include that initial, totally incorrect, sentence.

A few days ago, someone pointed me to this article from the Australian ABC news, which presumes to make statements concerning an interview that Ed Snowden gave to the Brazilian Globo TV:
Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, wanted by US authorities and currently living in Russia, has told a Brazilian TV network he has applied for asylum in Brazil and is in possession of more sensitive documents.

"I would love to live in Brazil," Snowden told Globo TV on Sunday (local time).

[....] He said he had more documents to release, relating to US spying on countries that include Britain and Brazil.
That struck me as strange, given earlier statements, including from Snowden himself, that he no longer has any access to any of the documents. As for the application for asylum, last year, Snowden had sent an open letter to Brazil, in which he doesn't actually ask for asylum, but hints that he'd be interested if there were a way to work out the details.

Thankfully, the full Globo TV episode is available online and was conducted in English. And what you quickly discover is whoever wrote that ABC story, is plainly misrepresenting what was said (thanks to Blair Chintella for pointing out exactly where). Early in the interview, Snowden clearly says that he destroyed all the documents. Later in the interview (around minute 40) he's even more direct in contradicting the ABC report:
Sonia Bridi (Globo TV): Every now and then, the American press says that you would offer Brazil documents in exchange for asylum. Is that an offer that's on the table?

Snowden: Absolutely not! I could not be more clear. First off, I don't have any documents to offer. Secondly, even if I did, I would never trade secret information or cooperate with some government in exchange for asylum. Asylum has to be granted on humanitarian grounds. It has to be granted to protect political rights or the right to safety. This whole topic about negotiating for asylum, I think, is improper. If Brazil wants to offer asylum, if they want to stand for human rights, if they want to protect the rights of whistleblowers, I think that's a good thing, and I would certainly encourage and support it -- whether it's in my case, or the case of anyone. But I would never engage in any sort of "deal" or quid pro quo exchange.
And somehow, that gets turned into: "Snowden... has told a Brazilian TV network he has applied for asylum in Brazil and is in possession of more sensitive documents." Incredible. As the reporter from the TV interview herself tweeted later, the report is simply factually incorrect. It was Greenwald who still said he had more documents. While the difference may seem minor, it's very, very big, since Snowden is the one who could use asylum, and his critics would jump on either bogus claim: that he had lied about earlier destruction of documents or that he'd "trade" documents for asylum, as suggested in the report. But neither of those things are true.

And you wonder why people don't trust the press so much these days.

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  • identicon
    Applesauce, 5 Jun 2014 @ 8:09am

    Trust or Competence

    The problem with modern "journalism" is that you can't tell if it totally untrustworthy or totally incompetent.

    The solution is to realize that it doesn't matter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2014 @ 8:16am

    1. Blatantly twist the truth and lie to millions
    2. Later argue that was "factually incorrect" to a few thousands
    3. ???
    4. Profit!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2014 @ 8:17am

    you ought to know what these Aussi reporters are like! look what the nurse did a while ago. she killed herself all because of some ridiculous prank pulled by a couple of reporters. they were sack, if i remember correctly but to my mind, that wasn't anywhere near severe enough punishment considering a life was lost over it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      beech, 5 Jun 2014 @ 8:20am

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jun 5th, 2014 @ 8:17am

      What chu talkin bout?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Baron von Robber, 5 Jun 2014 @ 8:42am

        Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jun 5th, 2014 @ 8:17am

        They weren't reporters but morning disc-jockeys in Australia. They pretended to be the Queen in a phone call to a hospital in England, checking up on somebody. I think one of the pregnant Princesses. The nurse fell for it, then offed herself over it when it all came out.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2014 @ 8:43am

        Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jun 5th, 2014 @ 8:17am

        This : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Jacintha_Saldanha

        However, there's little, if any link to this story, as it's about reporters, not radio presenters/humorists doing a prank (and obtained accurate and sensitive informations).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2014 @ 9:38am

      Re:

      And to be fair. The Aussie site is just running the story from a feed from the French news organization AFP. Aussie journalists didn't write it either.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 5 Jun 2014 @ 8:40am

    Which reporter

    As the reporter herself tweeted later, the report is simply factually incorrect.

    Just to clarify, that's the Brazilian reporter that conducted the interview. It would seem ABC hasn't corrected the story.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 5 Jun 2014 @ 8:42am

    Asylum

    While the difference may seem minor, it's very, very big, since Snowden is the one who could use asylum, and his critics would jump on either bogus claim: that he had lied about earlier destruction of documents or that he'd "trade" documents for asylum, as suggested in the report. But neither of those things are true.

    And ABC only said one of them: "In the interview, Snowden said he would not offer documents to any country in exchange for a safe haven, because asylum should be granted for humanitarian reasons."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 5 Jun 2014 @ 8:44am

    That crack staff at ABC

    Memories of old Monty Python routines come flooding in... except instead of philosophers at the University of Wallamaloo, it's an editorial staff meeting at ABC. "G'day, Bruce..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2014 @ 8:56am

    ...Am I wrong in thinking that this is the Murdoch-owned broadcasting company?

    Because if it is, then that is to the surprise of absolutely no-one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2014 @ 9:38am

      Re:

      It is the completely unbiased and Australian Government Owned Broadcasting service. ABC as in Australian Broadcasting Corporation. As quoted from the Wikipedia article
      The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is Australia's national public broadcaster. With a total annual budget of A$1.22 billion, the corporation provides television, radio, online and mobile services throughout metropolitan and regional Australia, as well as overseas through the Australia Network and Radio Australia.

      Founded in 1929 as the Australian Broadcasting Company, it was subsequently made a state-owned corporation on 1 July 1932, as the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983[2] changed the name of the organisation to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, effective 1 July 1983. Although funded and owned by the government, the ABC remains editorially independent as ensured through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983.
      Though after the latest Australian Government budget there has been talk that it is too "fat" and that they may need to cut some programming like "Peppa Pig".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2014 @ 9:00am

    "Factually Incorrect"

    What's factually incorrect is ABC's contention that this bimbo is a journalist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2014 @ 9:02am

    Mr Masnick, have you tried some of your own techdirt "journos"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2014 @ 9:14am

    Greenwald said he had more documents, not Snowden.

    This is the same tar and feather brush Alexander has been working with trying to convince the public that Snowden is a traitor and spy. His version of the truth had no legs any more than this one does. Fell flat on it's face right out of the door.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Vic, 5 Jun 2014 @ 9:37am

    The link to ABC shows as unavailable...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    zip, 5 Jun 2014 @ 10:23am

    who do you trust?

    "And you wonder why people don't trust the press so much these days."

    I trust Mike Masnick, and that's what counts!

    I lost all trust for the US press 11 years ago, after their disgraceful Iraq war cheerleading. But that's when I also discovered The Guardian, which is perhaps (both then and now) the most un-propagandized of all English-language commercial news media.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2014 @ 10:36am

      Re: who do you trust?

      This is a French News Service story based on butchered retelling of details from an interview done by a credible Brazilian reporter. What part of that has to do with the US press (other than the fact that MSN regurgitated it too without checking the claims on it first)?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    tomczerniawski, 5 Jun 2014 @ 10:30am

    This isn't bad reporting, it's propaganda.

    Not only that, it comes straight from the White House and/or NSA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    tomczerniawski, 5 Jun 2014 @ 10:31am

    I wager this article will now rapidly re-appear verbatim in a dozen other media sources. I invite you all to track its spread.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2014 @ 10:32am

    Snowden the Assassin

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PopeRatzo (profile), 5 Jun 2014 @ 11:03am

    mouthpieces

    Twenty-first century mainstream journalism is all about protecting the powerful. It's probably why they're having their lunch eaten by independent media outlets online.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mike, 5 Jun 2014 @ 12:07pm

    To Australian ABC's credit, looks like they've simply deleted their copy of the AFP article. (No correction, of course.)

    The copy now on AFP's site http://www.afp.com/en/node/2458355 and elsewhere http://news.yahoo.com/snowden-seeks-asylum-sunny-brazil-044217236.html omits the earlier phrase "and is in possession of more sensitive documents," but keeps the other incorrect phrase: "However he said that he had more documents to release relating to US spying on countries that include Britain and Brazil."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 5 Jun 2014 @ 1:15pm

      Re:

      How is that to ABC's credit? Providing a correction (and putting the correction on the wire services) would be to their credit. Just deleting it without doing that makes ABC look even worse.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    alan turing, 5 Jun 2014 @ 1:40pm

    Standard issue move to discredit Snowden, courtesy your government through the idiocracy of the "news."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2014 @ 2:40pm

    Australia is a poodle to the US. They're a member of the Five Eyes coalition and their island is close to China. You can't expect a poodle to defend itself against China.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2014 @ 6:39pm

    The ABC news story was updated as late as 22:31 on 05 June 2014 UTC (6 June 2014 in Australia):


    Editor's note (6 June 2014): An earlier version of this story reported that Edward Snowden had told Globo TV he was in possession of more sensitive documents. In fact, he told Globo he has no more documents to offer. Instead, journalist Glenn Greenwald, who was part of the interview, told Globo there are more revelations about the activities of intelligence agencies to come.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 6 Jun 2014 @ 2:08pm

    "And you wonder why people don't trust the press so much these days."

    At least people have finally stopped calling it the Free Press.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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