Profile: Kevin Varney
Kevin Varney was a participant or observer in the following events:
Forbes Magazine, after weathering weeks of intense criticism for its recent cover story by conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza alleging that President Obama is driven by “Kenyan anticolonialism” (see September 12, 2010 and September 12, 2010 and After), agrees to an unusual post-publication fact-checking process to see if, as many have alleged, many of D’Souza’s allegations are erroneous (see September 16, 2010). The agreement was reached after Forbes’s Washington bureau chief met with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, though Forbes spokeswoman Monie Begley says the decision to fact-check the article was made because of the “general clamor in the news media” and not because of White House pressure. [New York Times, 9/24/2010] During the meeting, Gibbs asked the bureau chief if the magazine bothered to fact-check D’Souza’s article. [Media Matters, 9/25/2010] Forbes has already issued one minor correction to the article on its Web site, noting that D’Souza had “slightly misquoted” President Obama in a speech he’d made about the Gulf oil spill; D’Souza claimed that Obama did not focus on “cleanup strategies,” but Forbes now acknowledges that “Obama’s speech did discuss concrete measures to investigate the oil spill and bring it under control.” D’Souza’s article was drawn from an upcoming book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, to be published by conservative publishing house Regnery on October 4; Regnery publicist Kathleen Sweetapple says in a statement, “[T]here are a couple of minor errors that are completely inconsequential; what the critics are fuming about are not factual errors but disagreements of interpretation.” Forbes staffers contact the Export-Import Bank to check D’Souza’s claim that the Obama administration had directly supported the bank’s decision to lend $2 billion to Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, for offshore drilling. D’Souza wrote that Obama supported the deal “not so oil ends up in the US. He is funding Brazilian exploration so that the oil can stay in Brazil.” Observers have noted that Obama had no say in the bank’s decision, and all five of the bank’s board of directors are Bush-era appointees. As part of the bank’s response, senior vice president Kevin Varney posts a comment on D’Souza’s blog highly critical of the author’s decision not to contact the bank before publishing the article. “I received a call yesterday from Nathan Verdi, a fact checker at Forbes, who was calling to fact check your article after it was published,” Varney writes. ”(Is this how journalism works now?)” Varney tells a New York Times reporter that the Petrobras loan “was begun in 2008 with career staffers and approved in 2009 by five Bush-appointed board members.” Deals such as this one, Varney continues, do not usually rise to the level of presidential awareness. For D’Souza to cite the deal as evidence of “an anticolonial, Kenyan ideology” on Obama’s part is “preposterous, it’s false, and it’s wrong.” [New York Times, 9/24/2010]
Entity Tags: Monie Begley, Export-Import Bank, Dinesh D’Souza, Barack Obama, Forbes magazine, Kevin Varney, Petrobras, Robert Gibbs, Nathan Verdi, Kathleen Sweetapple, Regnery Publishing
Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda
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