Monday, May 7, 2007

Ethics Daily Follow-Up Does Not Provide Substantiation

Let me clarify my position first so nobody will be confused. I am opposed to Wiley Drake receiving the Vice Presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention. I am in favor of Wiley Drake receiving fair treatment by the press. A follow-up article (see here) by Bob Allen at Ethics Daily is not exactly a retraction, but it sure isn't a substantiation. The article shows a lot of footwork that would have been work well done before the initial article (see here) came out. Among the interesting tidbits is a history of the site in question, including the admission by the administrator of the declaration that "names were added that should not have been… Fraudulent e-mails were sent in…" Of course, Allen depended upon a story by Intelligence Report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (of Civil Rights movement fame). They are the heavy-hitters in this story. The first article originated with them. It is time for them to weigh in. Unfortunately, they won't return my telephone calls. If they have posted more information on their web site, I cannot find it. I should mention, although Allen cannot substantiate his previous accusations, he does include a lot of scandalous information about Drake suggesting that Drake is, in point of fact, opposed to abortion (gasp!). One suspects that if Drake doesn't mend his ways he might wind up a Republican and therefore consigned to the fires of perdition. :-)


Anonymous said...

As I posted on your Wiley-Gate post - this is what should be expected from Bob Allen. Supermarket inflamatory tabloid couched in religious language.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Bart,

How do I say this? It seems that with this follow-up (?) it is nothing more than double talk. Allen, does not deal with the issue, but puts forth more inflammatory remarks. It appears the follow-up calls into suspect the original article. This article, along with the deafening silence from the SPLC, sends the appearance that something has been fabricated in their original research.

As a SB, I must now support our VP and say someone needs to either PUT-UP OR SHUT-UP.

Brother Drake has stated his signature was forged. If the SPLC ran this article knowing the petition was not one generated by the AOG and that these signatures were originally placed before Koop confessed to the killings, it calls into question their integrity. Bob Allen, I thought, had more integrity than to follow the lead of another and then blow smoke to hide his motives.


art rogers said...

Forthright article, Bart.

We'll make a blogger out of you, yet. :)

Unknown said...

My question: who would believe, even with a history of good reporting, the story in the Intelligence Report? It is false by insinuation the signing of this nefarious petition was "public" (insofar as it was common public knowledge), with or without substantiation of Drake's signature.

SelahV said...

BART: Good morning. I do like your humor in the last paragraph of your post. I need a laugh. was a chuckle. selahV

Anonymous said...

Ethics Daily originally said: "The Southern Poverty Law Center criticized the Southern Baptist Convention for electing a second vice president last June whose name appears on a "Declaration of Support for James Kopp," a man convicted of killing a doctor because he provided abortions...The declaration signed by Wiley Drake, elected last June as second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, appears on the Army of God Web site."

I'm not sure what should be expected of ED beyond the lengthy reporting and quoting of WD's denial and the facts behind it. I doubt many would criticize Allen for relying on the SPLC on this. In as sense Allen made no "accusations" as you write, merely reported them.

ED can do some SBC hit pieces but this wasn't one of them.

I've said elsewhere that his denial raises some additional questions but I accept it. I also believe he has squandered any credibility as SBC VP as a result of previous actions.

William Thornton

Bart Barber said...

Bro. Thornton,

Welcome! Thanks for your comment.

Parts of the original Ethics Daily piece were indeed simple qualified statements like, "The Southern Poverty Law Center criticized…" in which Allen is clearly reporting what SPLC did without taking any editorial position as to the accuracy of the charges. But parts of the article do indeed endorse the charges in Allen's voice: "The declaration signed by Wiley Drake, elected last June as second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, appears on the Army of God Web site."

Yet it appears quite possible at this point that this sentence is not demonstrably true. What more could Ethics Daily have done? What teeming masses of journalists know that you must do with this kind of story—contact Drake for comment. Then at least Drake's denial could be listed next to the accusation.

But now, with all that has transpired, Allen's only viable option is a full retraction and an apology. Not because it is clear that Drake did not affirm the declaration (it is not clear), but because it is clear that the journalistic homework was not done on this story.

If Allen's story is true, it is true by dumb luck. That's not journalism.

I take it personally because I and others, believing the accounts that Drake had been contacted, that the signature was clearly his, etc., forcefully commented on the situation, depending upon the trustworthiness of Ethics Daily and Intelligence Report.

Fool me once…

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear William Thornton,

Are you Bill Thornton of Telephone, Texas? If so, "Hi!" If not, "Hi!" anyway!

Love in Christ,


Anonymous said...


I'm not sure what ED should retract although I agree that WD should have been contacted for comment. Those who read Ethics Daily regularly understand that they have a fairly clear anti-SBC bent, considering they exist in part on funds from like minded ex- or disgruntled SBCers.

Jeff, thanks for the 'hi' but I am not a Texan and have never owned any cowboy boots or hat. Did ride a horse once...

Bart Barber said...


Glad to have brightened your day. :-)

Bart Barber said...

Bro. Thornton,

Here's what I would write: "Based upon a story in Intelligence Report, we at Ethics Daily reported that Wiley Drake had signed a declaration affirming James Kopp for murdering Dr. Bernard Slepian. We cannot substantiate the allegation, and Intelligence Report has not substantiated it, either. We did not contact Bro. Drake before publishing the story. In this we erred. Although we may never know for certain whether Drake did or did not sign the declaration, we do know for certain that we have not adhered to the highest tradition of journalistic prudence in our treatment of this story. For this we owe an apology, not only to Wiley Drake, but to you, our readers."

Anonymous said...

Let's rename Ethics Daily to Ethics Occasionally, in view of Bob Allen's latest piece, today.

"Wiley Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., elected last summer in Greensboro, N.C., made news last week when and other Web sites noted his name appeared for three-and-half years on an online petition supporting the assassin of an abortion provider."

Selective facts, no truth.

William Thornton