Like Fox News, Washington Post, USA Today And CNN All Run Hoffa Comments Out Of Context

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

This is what happens when the mainstream press chases manufactured, right-wing media controversies: The alleged stories are built upon lies and when trying to detail the faux controversies, the press just ends up repeating the right-wing fabrications.

Background: On Monday, Fox ran clips of a speech that Teamsters President James Hoffa delivered at a Labor Day rally, editing his comments to make it sound like he was urging violence against Republicans:

President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let's take these son-of-a-bitches out.

But as Media Matters has noted, that's not what Hoffa said. Or rather, those are fragments of what Hoffa said, stitched together in a way to change the meaning of his remarks.

Here was his comment. And in full context, it's clear Hoffa isn't threatening anyone, as conservatives hysterically claimed, but urging voters to turn Republicans out of office via the ballot box:

President Obama this is your army. We are ready to march. And president Obama we want one thing: Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. That's what we're going to tell him. He's going to be - and when he sees what we're doing here he will be inspired. But he needs help and you know what? Everybody here's got to vote. If we go back and keep the eye on the prize, let's take these sons of a bitches out and give America back to America where we belong! Thank you very much!

See the entire portion of the Hoffa quote that has to be omitted in order to created the Hoffa quote Fox News hyped? And sure, we'd expect Andrew Breitbart bloggers and Washington Times columnists to push the phony, stitched-together Hoffa quote.

The problem is so did the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. (In a subsequent article, the Times got the Hoffa quote right.)

And so too, it turns out, did the Washington Post, USA Today and CNN. Even after Media Matter had debunked the Fox News charade, all those news outlets used the doctored, Foxified quote, leaving out the part where Hoffa was clearing referring to voting Republicans out of office. (USA Today at least used an ellipsis to indicate to readers that parts of Hoffa's quote were skipped over.)

In no instance is it okay for journalists to take a portion of somebody's quote at the beginning of a paragraph, tie into together with a portion of a quote –mid-sentence-- at the bottom of the paragraph, skip everything in between and pretend that person is being accurately quoted.

And especially when the doctored quote is the entire basis for the so-called controversy.

Fox News Channel, The Washington Post, CNN
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