Tom DeLay’s attorney, Dick DeGuerin, claims that the judge presiding over DeLay’s criminal case in Texas, Bob Perkins, should be disqualified. A central part of his claim is that an organization that Perkins has donated to in the past, MoveOn, is selling t-shirts with Tom DeLay’s mug shot
DEGUERIN: The latest thing on MoveOn.org’s website, they are trying to raise money by selling t-shirts with Tom DeLay’s mug shot on the t-shirts. And I just don’t think that it looks right for the judge sitting on Congressman DeLay’s case to have contributed to an organization such as that.
According to MoveOn’s Washington director Tom Mattzie, this claim is false. Mattzie told ThinkProgress this morning that MoveOn has “never sold any t-shirts with Tom DeLay’s mug shot” on their website or otherwise. You can go to their website and see that he’s right.
Nevertheless, the media is already picking it up DeGuerin’s comments as if they were true. From the Associated Press:
The judge, Bob Perkins, has been a contributor to Democratic causes. DeLay’s attorney pointed out Friday that those causes include MoveOn.org, which is now selling a T-shirt with DeLay’s picture on it.
Dick DeGuerin wasn’t immediately available for comment. We’ll update you if he gets back to us.
UPDATE: DeGuerin made a similar false statement in the courtroom:
I noticed yesterday Moveon.org, to which you have contributed, was selling T-shirts with Mr. Delay’s mugshot on it to raise money.
And from DailyKos:
The AP and the Mugshot; or, A Case Study in Bad Journalism
Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 11:05:43 AM PDT
There are going to be a lot of diaries on The Case of Tom Delay's Lying Lawyer with respect to the non-existent moveon.org Delay mugshot t-shirts, but I thought a quick look at the Associated Press's approach to reporting on this was worth a diary.
CNN has the AP's story here, in which the AP reports about the courtroom theatrics revolving around defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin's claim that Judge Bob Perkins should be removed from the case because Perkins gave money to MoveOn.org, which in turn is selling Delay mugshot t-shirts.
Now, let's skip past the substantive question of whether, assuming this is true, such funding should disqualify the judge. Let's go straight to the lie.
As pointed out elsewhere, this is false. Very very false. As in, not true.
So false, no longer worth discussing.
So, what does the AP do to us? Let's look at how they frame it.
One side of the story:
In respectful tones, DeGuerin noted that Perkins had donated money to MoveOn.org, a liberal organization that he said has been "selling T-shirts with Mr. DeLay's mug shot on it."
The other side of the story:
MoveOn.org denied it was selling any such shirts, and issued a statement that said, "DeGuerin has either bad information or lied in court."
I guess the question on everyone's lips is...
WHICH ONE OF THESE SIDES IS TRUE??!?!?!?!?!
Do we get an answer?
Of course not!
SERIOUSLY, COULD THE AP OPEN UP INTERNET EXPLORER, TYPE IN MOVEON.ORG AND TAKE A LOOK?!?!?!?!
And so, we have the state of modern journalism. There are two sides to every story, each side is entitled to equal air time, the "truth" is subjective and therefore not pointed out by the press, fact-checking would only serve to bias the story against one side (a.k.a. the liars) and the American people will just have to stumble around, hearing two sides to one truth until the truth dies a nice, quiet death.