USA Today And Semi-Retractions

All the way back in May, USA Today reported their "blockbuster" revelation that three giant telecommunication companies had turned over calling records to the NSA to build a monster database. They told the world that AT&T, Bellsouth and Verizon had all cooperated.

Today they sort of, in a way, almost, kind of admitted that they were a teensy bit off. Like by about  2/3. Neither BellSouth nor Verizon participated.

On May 11, USA TODAY reported that the National Security Agency, with the cooperation of several of America's leading telecommunications companies, had compiled a database of domestic phone call records in an effort to monitor terrorist activity.

Several days later, BellSouth and Verizon specifically denied that they were among the companies that had contracted with the NSA to provide bulk calling records.

The denial was unexpected. USA TODAY had spoken with BellSouth and Verizon for several weeks about the substance of the report. The day before the article was published, the reporter read the sections of the article concerning BellSouth and Verizon to representatives of the companies and asked for a denial before publication.

At the time, BellSouth did not deny participation in the program, but it issued a statement saying the company “does not provide any confidential customer information to the NSA or any government agency without proper legal authority.” Verizon said that it would not comment on national security matters and that it acts “in full compliance with the law” and with respect for customers' privacy.

On May 15, BellSouth said it could not categorically deny participation in the program until it had conducted a detailed investigation. BellSouth said that internal review concluded that the company did not contract with the NSA or turn over calling records.

So those darn folks at BellSouth wouldn't issue a strong enough denial for the folks at USA Today? The killer is this passage:

USA TODAY also spoke again with the sources who had originally provided information about the scope and contents of the domestic calls database. All said the published report accurately reflected their knowledge and understanding of the NSA program, but none could document a contractual relationship between BellSouth or Verizon and the NSA, or that the companies turned over bulk calling records to the NSA.

Based on its reporting after the May 11 article, USA TODAY has now concluded that while the NSA has built a massive domestic calls record database involving the domestic call records of telecommunications companies, the newspaper cannot confirm that BellSouth or Verizon contracted with the NSA to provide bulk calling records to that database.

There has been an enormous amount of outrage over this story from the left. But it turns out that at least 2/3 of the what the story is based on is either false, misleading or not credible. Now a rational person might begin to wonder how much other reporting that stirs great outrage is actually true. Some folks might wonder if anything in this story is, in fact, correct. This blasé non-retraction retraction should make you wonder who exactly you trust to get good information from.

So those darn folks at BellSouth wouldn't issue a strong enough denial for the folks at USA Today? The killer is this passage:

USA TODAY also spoke again with the sources who had originally provided information about the scope and contents of the domestic calls database. All said the published report accurately reflected their knowledge and understanding of the NSA program, but none could document a contractual relationship between BellSouth or Verizon and the NSA, or that the companies turned over bulk calling records to the NSA.

Based on its reporting after the May 11 article, USA TODAY has now concluded that while the NSA has built a massive domestic calls record database involving the domestic call records of telecommunications companies, the newspaper cannot confirm that BellSouth or Verizon contracted with the NSA to provide bulk calling records to that database.

There has been an enormous amount of outrage over this story from the left. But it turns out that at least 2/3 of the what the story is based on is either false, misleading or not credible. Now a rational person might begin to wonder how much other reporting that stirs great outrage is actually true. Some folks might wonder if anything in this story is, in fact, correct. This blasé non-retraction retraction should make you wonder who exactly you trust to get good information from.

UPDATE: It's all about quality of content.

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One Response to USA Today And Semi-Retractions

  1. Steve says:

    What a sad whisper to their readers disclosing just how wrong they got this story. I’d say its a disservice to their subscribers but somehow I have an issue calling hotels subscribers…………What makes it even worse is that the story should have never been reported………

    There is a reason that hotels leave a free copy of the USA Today on the floor, in the hall way outside your hotel room, it’s called quality of content…………………..

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