York’s ‘headlines’ weren’t headlines
From Judd Legum and Christy Harvey, editors, The Progress Report:
We write in response to the excerpt from Byron York’s book about the work of the Center for American Progress that appeared in the Thursday, April 7, issue of The Hill.
None of the “headlines” of “The Progress Report,” the daily electronic newsletter of the American Progress Action Fund, cited in the column by Byron York were actually headlines. Instead, York selected snippets of text drawn from the entire report. Here are the actual headlines:
- Oct. 5: “Paige Papers Over Problems”
- Oct.13: “The Stem-Cell Debate”
- Oct.18: “Troops Talk Back”
- Oct.26: “IRAQ, The $225 Billion Mess”
- Oct.28: “Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action”
What the real headlines reveal is that “The Progress Report,” like the organization itself, presents a combination of positive policy prescriptions and criticism.
The American Progress Action Fund welcomes scrutiny of our work from York and others. (We urge everyone to go to progressreport.org and make their own conclusions.) But while York is entitled to his own opinions, he is not entitled to his own facts.
Legum and Harvey claim to encourage readers to "make their own conclusions." But does the post link to York's excerpt or the issues of the Progress Report in question? No. So I went and looked up the source material myself.
Here is the York excerpt in question, which includes the following passage:
A few headlines from the month of October shows what the Report had become by the end of the campaign:
October 5: “[Cheney] In Bed with the Axis of Evil”
October 13: “Bush Can Run, but He Can’t Hide”
October 18: “Bush Will Say Anything to Avoid Responsibility”
October 26: “Administration Pushes Bogus Theory”
October 28: “All the President’s Excuses”
And when you look up the October 5, 13, 18, 26 and 28 editions, you'll find that all of York's headlines were correctly quoted. The ridiculous trick that CAP uses in the letter is defining "real headlines" to mean only the lead headline at the top of the newsletter. The bold headlines used to introduce other sections and subsections of the newsletter -- precisely what York quoted -- are absurdly defined as "snippets of text drawn from the entire report" in the letter and as "fake headlines" in the blog post title. Does only the lead headline in a newspaper count as a headline? Come on. But once again, a reader of CAP's letter or its blog post would have no way of knowing how misleading its claims actually are.
For more on CAP's pattern of deception, see:
-my blog posts about them
-my Spinsanity column about the way the Progress Report distorts quotations
-the pathologically dishonest response from CAP to earlier Spinsanity articles by Ben Fritz (here and here)
-our discussion of CAP in All the President's Spin, which supports York's description of it as a "talking points factory"