Little Green Footballs

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Fact checking LGF style

Charles Johnson, head Lizard honcho and scourge of all things forged, has been riding on the crest of a wave of Bush-supporting self-righteous indignation over the apparently forged memos aired by CBS's 60 Minutes programme recently. With his typographical expertise Johnson was one of the first to spot that something was amiss with the memos, subjecting them to intense scrutiny and finally pronouncing them FORGED!! Never mind the fact that the core of CBS's story (that President Bush had received special treatment during the Vietnam War, exempting him from frontline fighting duty) remains true: Charles Johnson saw this malicious forgery as further evidence that the mainstream media are loony lefties covertly in cahoots with John Kerry.

Little wonder, then, that Mr LGF gleefully posted articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) appearing in the press over the last few days which praised the blogosphere as a serious check on irresponsible journalism.

And wouldn't it be wonderful if things were that easy and journalists were being followed everywhere they went by honest, diligent and hard-working citizens prepared to scrutinize their work and expose the lies and slanders they write?

Unfortunately for Johnson and his right-wing blogger cohorts, this picture of unbiased reporter-watching by and for the media consuming masses is a little off the mark. Here at LGF Watch we have been chronicling Charles Johnson's lies and deceipts for a while now, so in order to add a bit of fairness and balance to the blog celebration let's look at some of Charles Johnson's recent exploits:

LGFgate I:

Under the heading 'Terrorist Supporters in LA' CJ posts a picture of a man dressed as a suicide bomber holding up a sign that reads: "Hamas says no wall" ( Johnson comments: "Good lord. This happened yesterday at Palisades Park in Los Angeles," and links to an Indymedia page with pictures of a protest in LA. The headline, the comment and the picture make it look like protesters were openly declaring themselves supporters of Hamas and suicide bombings. In fact, the person pictured by Charles is a member of a counter demonstration and has nothing to do with the original protest. Lying or just economical with the facts? You decide.

LGFgate II:

CJ kicks off an angry posting about British MP Jenny Tonge with the line "British Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Tonge apparently never learned that when you’re in a hole, you need to stop digging—because her latest dispatch finds her not just sympathizing with suicide bombers, but hanging out with them." (our emphasis;

In fact, anyone reading Tonge's original article would find that she starts thus: "My remarks last month, expressing empathy with suicide bombers, had been misinterpreted by the tabloids as meaning sympathy and approval."

Similarly, linking to a post on Billmon's Whiskey Bar, Johnson claims that Billmon said the four American mercenaries killed in Fallujah "deserved it" ( The fact is that Billmon said nothing of the sort.

Now misinterpreting what someone says or writes is one thing, but consciously reporting something that isn't true is another.

LGFgate III:

One of CJ's favourite tricks is posting stories of apparently horrific abuse or racism, without following them up. Now we know Charles is only an amateur journalist, but if he finds the time to post dozens of items about typography on his website every day you would think he might take an interest in developments that have occured in stories he has highlighted in the past. Not so in the case of the 'anti-Semitic attack' on the Paris Metro in July ( Or the 'anti-Semitic arson', also carried out in Paris ( Both stories turned out quite different in the end, but because that end didn't suit Charles ... he didn't report it.

Finally, let us not forget that, for a long time, Charles Johnson maintained that no torture had occured in Abu Ghraib prison, an opinion he seemed to base solely on his privileged observer position behind a computer screen in California.

What all of this goes to show is that Charles Johnson believes in journalistic virtue and integrity only when and if it suits him. He will happily distort the truth to suit his own ends, and completely fails to report instances where journalism has caught out the politicians he so loves. At the moment Johnson is nothing more than a drone for the 're-elect Bush' campaign. Anything posted by him should be taken with more than a pinch of salt.

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