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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Credit for the Discredited

The Dallas Morning News' Mark Wrolstad wrote into Romenesko today to defend his wife's honor--a tough sell for the Romenesko crowd, considering his wife is Mary Mapes.

But he makes a legitimate point, taking to task some guy for crediting Seymour Hersh with breaking the Abu Ghraib prison scandal (actually, Wrolstad wrongly accused Brian Montopoli of giving the errant credit, but the point is he was mad that someone said Hersh broke the story.)

"Brian Montopoli at CJR Daily is the latest in an endless line to say incorrectly that Seymour Hersh 'broke the Abu Ghraib prison scandal story,'" Wrolstad wrote. "In fact, the Abu Ghraib scandal was broken by '60 Minutes II' on its Wednesday, April 28, 2004, broadcast. The terrific Mr. Hersh wrote a detailed account that was posted online the following weekend and appeared in print the next week."

Endless line indeed. The Chicago Tribune's editorial page made the same error while I was there, writing rather preposterously just days after the story broke--and long before anyone knew what proportional spacing meant--that "the most alarming aspects of this debacle may be the prospect that if The New Yorker magazine had not obtained a copy of one of the reports and some photographs, the abuses may have never come to light."

I sent a note at the time to Bruce Dold, the Trib's editorial page editor, alerting him to the factual error. But he never wrote back, and no correction was forthcoming.

CBS, of course, won a Peabody Award for the Abu Ghraib story, and I hear that Mapes plans to attend the awards ceremony on May 16. Her former colleague Morly Safer is slated to host. I don't know how the awards are handed out, but here's hoping that Mapes and Andrew Heyward get into a public wrestling match over who gets to keep it. I don't really know which one I'd root for.