Truth, CitizenLink and “Reliable People”
What does Focus on the Family do when they get caught in a lie? They tell three more.
July 3rd, 2007
We reported last week about Focus on the Family’s strange ability to see into the future when they reported — using the past tense — about the Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference when it hadn’t occurred yet.
Well, they don’t like being called out as liars, so they are trying to defend their report. But CitizenLink associate editor Jennifer Mesko ends up digging the hole even deeper:
The article I wrote on Thursday included this line about the Exodus conference: “The meeting, which began Tuesday and wraps up Sunday, has drawn close to 1,000 people – and no protesters so far. Across town, a counter-conference drew about 100 people.”
Apparently miffed at the reference to “100 people,” [Ex-Gay Watch's David] Roberts accused me of “supplying attendance figures seemingly out of thin air.” But I got the numbers from reliable people who attended both conferences – although their thinness is not a matter of record. [emphasis mine]
You see, she’s lying again. She admits that she wrote the article Thursday. That’s June 28th by my calendar. The conference didn’t start until Friday June 29th. I should know. I actually did attend both conferences, but I couldn’t say that until the evening of the twenty-ninth — more than twenty-four hours after her miraculous past-tense reporting.
That’s the same point David Roberts made at Ex-gay Watch, a point that Mesko utterly ignores.
So yes, she’s outright lying. Her “reliable people” simply couldn’t have “attended both conferences” when she wrote her story because the second conference hadn’t ocurred yet. Either she’s lying or her “reliable people” are lying, in which case they aren’t terribly reliable.
And so you see, since the conference hadn’t occurred yet, there is only one source her attendance figures could have possibly come from — thin air. Any associate editor who doesn’t have the simplest ability to check her facts should reconsider her occupational choice.
Ah, but it doesn’t end there. She cites this photo as proof that there were only “50 smiling counter-conferees.” Go ahead and click on the picture to get the full size version. Can you make out the little green dots on the badges? I know it’s hard to see, but look anyway.
Like at the Exodus conference, there was a strict rule at the Ex-Gay Survivor’s conference: only those who gave their permission to be photographed were photographed. Those who didn’t, weren’t. The green dots on the badges meant that they were giving their permission. Not everyone sported a green dot. No green dot, no photo. Mesko’s “reliable people” somehow missed that.
And besides that, the photo was taken at the end of the day. Many had left by then, including Mesko’s “reliable friends” and the other handful of people from Exodus who attended the Ex-Gay Survivor’s conference. By the way, I don’t think any of the visitors from the Exodus conference had green dots on their badges.
But of course, Mesko’s “reliable people” didn’t see that either. Maybe because they weren’t there. They must have gone to some other “counter-conference” that took place on June 28th, but I wouldn’t know which conference that was. After all, it was a full day before the Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference.
Now, you’d think I’d be finished with Ms. Mesko, wouldn’t you? But you’d be wrong. There’s one last thing:
Other bloggers claimed the conference (which resembled, but was not a counter-conference), scored close to 1,000 people.
This is the first I’ve seen anyone claim that figure. I challenge Mesko to find any serious blogger who says there were anything close to 1,000. MySpace and Friendsters don’t count.
How many attended? I don’t know. I haven’t seen any figures. But I’d guess that probably something more than a hundred, maybe something less that 150. Beyond that, it’s a guess. (Update: Peterson Toscano says they counted about 175. Christine Bakke has even more attendance info. It looks like our little conference was nearly three times the size of the first Exodus conference.)
My own little workshop alone, one of three taking place concurrently, outdrew Exodus’s first conference. They drew only sixty-two people according to Exodus’s official history pamphlet I bought at their conference. Not bad for a first effort.
Mesko says this:
As Christian journalists, we adhere as best we can to truth and accuracy. But many of those on the other side of the issues we fight – particularly bloggers – aren’t guided by those principles.
Bloggers can post whatever they want, whenever they want. I admit, it often seems credible. They seem like real journalists. Only without the degree. Without the editors. Without the accountability.
Standards of truth and accuracy would mean that if you’re going to write about a conference that already happened, you’d actually wait for it to happen already. Not a full day before it even started. That’s a pretty fundamental standard. Apparently Ms. Mesko thinks Christian journalists aren’t guided by those principles.
Jennifer Mesko can post whatever she wants, whenever she wants. But the more she posts the less credible she becomes. These Christian journalists could probably stand to have a different editor. A real editor. With accountability. And maybe even an ounce of integrety.
Hat tip: Scott H.
Focus on the Family Associate Editor Protests Being Corrected, by David Roberts, at Ex-Gay Watch.