October 30, 2007

An Eye For Detail

I had every intention of letting "Cheney Flag-gate" go uncommented upon as a non-story. Vice President Cheney went pheasant hunting at an exclusive preserve in Dutchess County, New York yesterday, and the hunt itself left only pheasants hitting the ground. It was a local interest story for the most part, until a sharp-eyed photographer and a self-promoting blowhard turned this local interest story into a national non-story when it was discovered that the inside of the back door of a garage at the hunt club was draped in a Confederate battle flag.

There is precisely no evidence that Cheney or anyone on his staff saw the flag, but that didn't keep the Daily News from running straight to Al Sharpton. The story ended in lots of hot air being spit by a man in love with the sound of his own voice, and many people fruitlessly wishing they had a way to somehow blame the Vice President.

I only mention this story at all because of the eye for detail it reveals in our media. Consider this a "teachable moment" for media fact-checkers.

Here is the flag photo, as captured by a Daily News photographer.


Note the detail the Daily News posted about the flag itself:

A Daily News photographer captured the 3-by-5 foot Dixie flag affixed to a door in the garage of the Clove Valley Gun and Rod Club in upstate Union Vale, N.Y.

Not to be outdone, Austin Fenner of the Post claimed:

But the veep only shot him self in the foot - by visiting the exclusive Clove Valley Rod & Gun Club in Union Vale, a sprawling preserve nestled along the western side of Clove Mountain, where a 5-foot-by-5-foot Confederate flag hung in a garage attached to the club headquarters.

Led by the tabloids, the Times "Cityroom" blog blindly follows, and ups the ante with a rather blatant embellishment:

Reporters who covered Mr. Cheney’s visit on Monday — including Fernanda Santos of The Times — were not permitted to enter the grounds of the hunting estate. But at least one eagle-eyed photographer captured images of a Confederate battle flag — about 3 feet by 5 feet in dimension — hanging in plain view in a garage attached to the club’s headquarters.

If it was in "plain view" as alleged, why didn't the Times' Fernanda Santos—or any other reporter or photographer than the one from the Daily News —notice it? Clearly, Sewell Chan had a much better view of the action from Manhattan.

But let's talk about the view for a moment, and about media accuracy. It is admittedly a small matter, but indicative of a greater pervading sloppiness.

Look at the picture again, and the descriptions. The Daily News and the Times puts the flag at "about" 3-by-5 foot in dimension, and the Post, inexplicably, determines the flag is 5-by-5 foot, proving that they failed rectangles and squares.

But before you laugh too much at the Post, make sure you include the Daily News and the Times, for they are far off the mark as well, as a little common sense would tell you.

Look back at that flag again.

Actually, look at the door.

When is the last time you saw an entry door that is 5-feet wide? This door is at most 36 inches wide, and many older buildings have rear garage doors commonly just 2'8" in width.

The flag, it would seem, is roughly half the size of that which the media claimed. This isn't malice, of course, just carelessness over the details.

The same sort of carelessness, however, gives us stories of brutal massacres that didn't happen. It gives us bullets that were never fired or never made. All of these stories are equally untrue because of reporters wanting to rush stories to print without getting the details right.

Speed to press will never save the print media. Bloggers will always be faster. The media must be more accurate, more diligent, and more credible. To date, they show little sign of learning this lesson.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 30, 2007 03:13 PM

Balanced and a good comment on the current state of MSM. However, I can easily envision the blogosphere's own hystericalist, Andrew Sullivan, manufacturing a mountain out of essentially a mole hill.

Posted by: Terry at October 30, 2007 03:41 PM

Do those colors seem overly saturated? The foreground appears much yellower than one would expect. Objects hanging on the interior walls are redder. The contrast is certainly boosted.

That may be the reason other photographers didn't notice the flag. It is probably so faded that it is near-unrecognizable; an old, pale rectangle of cloth covering a broken window in a garage.

Posted by: lyle at October 30, 2007 03:55 PM

Not incidentally, this is Union Vale, New York we're talking about - not exactly a remote bastion of the old Confederacy.

And the 'place of honor'? Raise your hand if you keep valued possessions nailed to the inside of the back door of your garage.

Posted by: lyle at October 30, 2007 04:03 PM

I have to agree with Sharpton, Cheney should get right on apologizing for being at this hunting preserve. Right after Sharpton publicly apologizes to the Duke Lacross team and the young man who took the beating in Jenna, and...Al Sharpton a racist? Who knew?

Posted by: R30C at October 30, 2007 06:54 PM

Oh horrors! Dick Cheney went hunting at a club where some low-level worker hung a "forbiden object" in an out-of-the-way employees-only area.

This is such a non-story, I hadn't heard about it until now.

Posted by: MikeM at October 30, 2007 07:10 PM

The Thought Police are out in force again, I see.

Posted by: C-C-G at October 30, 2007 07:33 PM

Dutchess County? Isn't that where Tawana Brawley claimed she was raped by white men and Al Sharpton accused DA Steve Pagones of rape?

Posted by: Dennis D at October 30, 2007 07:35 PM

The VP should state he'll apologize when "Rev" Sharpton pays the judgement against him in the Brawley slander/libel.

I don't imagine Bill Clinton was ever, EVER in the vicinity of a Confederate battle flag. Nosirree, no chance of that in Arkansas.


Posted by: Rick at October 30, 2007 09:01 PM

"Speed to press will never save the print media."

Agreed. But, I might add, speed is not always the blogger's friend. Haste to post has sunk many a blogger, with Dread Pundit Bluto being the most recent example.

Posted by: Robert Stevens at October 30, 2007 09:07 PM

Email me at the provided email addy. I'm currently Stateside on R&R and headed back on the 8th. I might be able to do a face-to-face with Beuachamp as I am taking a new contract up North.
Best Regards

Posted by: Big Country at October 30, 2007 09:41 PM

That appears to be an Army of Tennessee flag from the 1863-1865 period. The Army of Virginia flags look somewhat similar, but would be square rather than rectangular.

Confederate flag vexillology is non trivial and rather involved. The majority of confederate battle flag types DID NOT contain the stars and bars. Those that can vary greatly depending on the state/unit. Sometimes there's a star in the middle, sometimes not. Most battle flags that used the stars and bars put them in the upper left corner with the bulk of flag area designated for other symbology.

It would be easy to mistake some confederate naval flags for abbreviated versions of the current day US flag.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at October 30, 2007 10:47 PM

I feel safer at night knowing there are 'eagle-eyed' photographers out there who can spot things 'in plain view'. They are probably real good at tying their shoes as well.

Those stories read like a game of telephone where with each pass they are embellished or distorted. In telephone, however, the excuse is that the statement is misunderstood or mis-heard. What's the excuse for changing details when the details (though incorrect) are in print?

Posted by: negentropy at October 31, 2007 07:31 AM

CY, unless you get data from someone who has actually measured the door, you're engaging in precisely the same kind of uninformed speculation you accuse the reporters of conducting.

Posted by: nunaim at October 31, 2007 07:38 AM

nunaim, have you ever seen such a door that's 5 feet wide? Have you seen many doors? I haven't and I have. Uninformed? I think not.

Posted by: Pablo at October 31, 2007 07:52 AM

nunaim, as someone who has in the past held a real job in construction and remodeling, and in that area of New York (in Orange County, just across the Hudson from Dutchess) to boot, I assure you, that is not "uninformed speculation."

I know you're trying to score a cheap "point" here or there when you can, but please, stop embarrassing yourself.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at October 31, 2007 08:01 AM

nunaim will grasp at any straw to make a conservative look bad.

That's why he virtually always ends up looking bad himself, cause he doesn't bother to investigate before grasping those straws.

But, he is good for a laugh, and as a poster child for the absolute idiocy of the hard-core left. I guess that's why CY keeps him around.

Posted by: C-C-G at October 31, 2007 08:36 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 10/31/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Posted by: David M at October 31, 2007 10:35 AM

Ah, yes: fake but real.

Posted by: nunaim at October 31, 2007 02:47 PM

Yes, yes, nunaim, we know that you know more about construction in that part of the country than someone who's actually lived there and worked in construction.

You also know more about military strategy than the Pentagon, more about economics than the Federal Reserve, and you even know more about everything than God Himself does.

We all bow to your incredible intellect.

Please go away now.

Posted by: C-C-G at October 31, 2007 09:15 PM
we know that you know more about construction in that part of the country than someone who's actually lived there and worked in construction.

Remember how the opinions of generals who had served in Iraq as recently as last year were discarded by CY and others on this site because they weren't "on the ground?" (Oh, and because they said things CY didn't want to hear, of course.)

It's interesting how, when it cuts your way, "I did this thing one time" is sufficient proof; when you disagree with the ideas, the only thing that will suffice is up-to-date eyewitness testimony backed up by video--and even then, some yahoo is going to see a conspiracy in the fact that the image seems oversaturated.

Consistency? That must be for weeners, right?

Posted by: nunaim at October 31, 2007 09:44 PM

Actually, nunaim, it is consistent.

CY is basing his opinion on his personal experience of the topic at hand.

CY has dismissed the opinions of people who lack personal experience of the topic at hand.

Too bad you can't comprehend that.

Posted by: C-C-G at October 31, 2007 09:46 PM

My problems with Cheney's hunting escapades is that his impression of hunting (raised birds, private lands) shield him in his hobby from the consequences of this administration's policies have on the rest of the hunting population.

Those of us who hunt public lands (or would like to) have seen the environmental disinterest of this presidency and the wholesale auctioning off of public lands for mining interests without regard to the impact in the quality of the life we have.

Of course, if you are sitting on a stool with a glass of single malt, holding your custom 28 gauge shotgun while waiting for a low paid hick to kick a few tame birds your way, you might be too preoccupied with the luxuries of your life to care that the rest of us don't see it the same way. Be then, I'm not a cyborg, and can still walk through the woods with my dog and old savage automatic.

But then, i forgot your mantra "Cheney Good/ Bush good/ facts bad."

Posted by: ltg at November 1, 2007 12:09 AM


Do you suppose the opinions of generals who served in Iraq in Sept. of 2007 might be more indicative of current conditions than those whose last service in Iraq was 2006?

Or is Iraq a static situation where nothing changes?

Posted by: M. Simon at November 1, 2007 06:04 AM

M. Simon, your question presupposes that generals who are not actually standing on Iraqi soil are totally cut off from all information about Iraq. Following your own reasoning, then, Bush should not be allowed to make any decisions about Iraq because he's not there.

This whole thing has happened at other times, as well. Remember the photos that CY declared worthless because the people in them "were aware of the photographer?" And then I found several photos on Yon's site with people--including Iraqi kids and American soldiers--lined up and staring into the camera? But that was different, of course, because you agree with Yon and you disagreed with what you perceived to be the agenda of that other photographer.

Posted by: nunaim at November 1, 2007 07:35 AM

Of course, nunaim is too brain-dead to realize that by dismissing the opinions of those generals that are actually in Iraq, he is himself doing what he accuses CY and others--including myself--of doing: giving weight only to those opinions he agrees with.

Hypocrisy, thy name is nunaim.

Posted by: C-C-G at November 1, 2007 08:44 AM

What CCG is too brain-dead to realize is that I'm not dismissing the opinions of the other generals and I never have. He made that up in order to fit his own personal narrative about me. Backing up his assertions about me positions would take some thought and effort on his part, however, and this is something he is unlikely to do. It's far easier to make up my opinions for me, I guess.

I'm commenting on the reasons for which the generals' opinions were dismissed, and the lack of consistency of the Right's general approach to things this highlights.

(By the way, CCG, I'm flattered that you care enough about me to have a "Nunaim Narrative" shelf in the cluttered crawlspace that you call your brain. BFF!!!!!)

Posted by: nunaim at November 1, 2007 10:15 AM

He better not enter the State Capitol of Mississippi, then.

Posted by: Mikey NTH at November 1, 2007 02:35 PM

So, nunaim, you agree with General Petraeus' report on the status of things in Iraq, then?

And I've already addressed your consistency point. Please read carefully.

Posted by: C-C-G at November 1, 2007 07:20 PM

I'm willing to accept the idea that there's less killing in Iraq now than there was before, but holy shite! There'd better be! Look how long we've been there! Also: less killing doesn't change the fact that we shouldn't have been there in the first place.

Finally: mentioning the word "consistent" in your post does not mean that you've addressed the underlying issue, any more than simply mentioning the name "Petraeus" would mean that I'd answered your question.

Posted by: nunaim at November 2, 2007 08:02 AM

nunaim, I truly pity you. You clearly cannot comprehend even a three-line response of less than 100 words.

Please seek professional assistance immediately, before you do yourself harm with a dull butter knife.

Good day, Sir. I said, Good day!

Posted by: C-C-G at November 2, 2007 08:18 AM
Good day, Sir. I said, Good day!

Well, it doesn't get any lamer than that, does it?

Posted by: nunaim at November 2, 2007 04:33 PM

I read but don't comment often here - nunaim, you are special, as in special olympics. Change topics to cover for your ass-spanking on door size speculation? sucks to not have state-supplied self esteem, no?

Posted by: Frank G at November 3, 2007 04:52 PM

First: I received no spanking, assward or anywhere else. CY and others here have established what they consider to be a baseline for credibility: anybody who's there (wherever the "there" happens to be) is credible, and anyone who's not there is not credible, no matter how much experience they have. Fine. By that standard, "I worked in construction one time" has to rate at least as low as "I was a general in Iraq up until last year." Probably less, don't you think? Let's be honest. And consistent. That's the standard CY has established. He's not even going with the measurement of someone who was there (and, by God, why can't we send Michael Yon over there to measure that door?!); he's making stuff up.

I don't care about how many nails he has pounded in the past; using his standard of proof, the fact that he is not actually standing in front of that door with a tape measure invalidates his speculation about the size.

Let's follow this through to the end. If the generals aren't to be listened to, why on God's green Earth should we listen to the bloviating of CCG, CY, or any of the other people here who have never been to Iraq (and quite possibly couldn't find it on a map)? They haven't been on the ground; what they say means nothing. Right? Isn't that the logic?

If the generals who served in Iraq are to be dismissed because they are not right this minute standing in the Green Zone, then the lip-flappage of those who've never even served means less than nothing.

Second, there was no subject change. This "subject change" bushwah is something you wingnuts fall back on when you can't think of anything else to say. It's as predictable as the change of seasons. Unless there's an actual subject change, you just wind up looking like someone who has just pissed his pants in public.

Posted by: nunaim at November 3, 2007 06:40 PM

I'm done with you nunaim.

Unlike Iraq, which has multiple religious sects, tribal influences, political vendettas, and cultural differences that change constantly, a 2'8" door is always a 2'8" door. That is finite and does not change; it is not a 5' door one day and 1'11" door a month or a year later.

You seem to exist only to argue and so you are welcome to do so: somewhere else.

You will not be missed.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at November 3, 2007 09:24 PM

I am sure nunaim can still read here, even if he can't reply, so one parting shot for the lefty who can't figure out that a door doesn't change size.

As far as the generals go, we're taking the word of a general who is in-theatre right now as opposed to the words of generals who left the theatre months or in some cases years ago.

In fact, one of those generals who has already left is the one responsible for the situation that the one that's there now had to clean up!

nunaim obviously looks at last month's paper for the weather report as well, rather than today's.

Good day, nunaim. I said good day, and it is a good day, cause I won't have to put up with you anymore.

Posted by: C-C-G at November 4, 2007 02:52 PM