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After several days of lobbying we were able to bring the AP around to the idea that a clarification of their story last Saturday was in order. Read on...and enjoy!
OlbyWatch readers will recall that AP reporter Beth Harris wrote Saturday "Olbermann said his phone number has been distributed at Fox and his e-mail hacked into." This raised more than a few eyebrows in the Olbersphere where many folks took this to mean that Olbermann was claiming that Fox News had hacked into this email account (and thus was possibly blaming Fox for this sundy email "scandals").
In our fastidious pursuit of excellence, we held off commenting on this possibly explosive accusation until we had a chance to look into the matter. I obtained a copy of the transcript from the presser and wrote an email to Harris:
I would like to get a clarification of your recent article on Keith Olbermann.
You wrote: http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/15100657.htm
Olbermann said his phone number has been distributed at Fox and his e-mail hacked into.
In the context of the piece as it appeared in the Philly Inquirer, this reads as if Olbermann was claiming that Fox News "distributed" this phone number and "hacked" into his email account. Is this what he said? Are you aware that he is accusing Fox News of a crime - breaking into his email account? Was there any sort of follow up to this accusation by any reporters in the room?
Also, are you aware that Keith Olbermann has embroiled in controversies related to his email account including criticism of Rita Cosby, some vituperative responses to some "attack" emails and an alleged tryst with a fan from Florida? There was a story put out by a former colleague (A. Whitney Brown) that MSNBC staff had sent the emails. Now Keith is saying his email was hacked - maybe by Fox News. That your article appears to connect Fox News to this claim seems more than newsworthy. Could you expand on this a bit?
I look forwarded to your reply.
Thank you for you time and consideration.
Later that day, I published a clarification of what KO actually said and thus found myself in the odd position of defending Olbermann.
I heard back from Harris on Monday, through a third-party, and learned her first instinct was that the sentence was clear to a careful reader and that no clarification was needed. I went back to her again, pointing out that while she had a valid point, there were plenty of folks out there who had a very different understanding which suggested that for many folks it was not clear what Olbermann had said. To her great credit, Harris put out a "clarification" on the AP wire earlier today:
PASADENA, Calif. - In a July 22 story, The Associated Press reported that MSNBC host Keith Olbermann said his phone number has been distributed at Fox and his e-mail hacked into because of his critical comments about Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and other conservatives.
The story should have been clearer about the e-mail reference, which was not intended to suggest Fox hacked into Olbermann's e-mail. Olbermann's fuller quote at the Television Critics Association's summer meeting: "My e-mails have been hacked into. My phone number has been distributed at Fox. I mean, there have been some really kind of invasive things, but if you sit down and you talk about it, well, they're annoying things and that's about it."
This is not the first I've tangled with the AP over corrections.