A screw-up (mine)

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3 years ago

About half an hour ago I put up a post ("Did CNN edit out a bit about the Jews from Martin Luther King’s last speech?") about Martin Luther King's famous "I've been to the mountaintop" speech, comparing a transcript from CNN with an "authenticated" one from American Rhetoric. As the website FirstOne Through noticed, the former had left out a bit about the Jews' exodus from Egypt, taking this to mean that CNN had a bias against Israel or Zionism and deliberately edited out the passage.  I did a "compare documents" for the two transcripts, and while I found some changes in wording between them, I couldn't find an omission as big as the removal of the phrase about the Exodus. So I left the CNN omission as a mystery, possibly, but not strongly, suggesting an anti-Israel bias.

Greg Mayer did a similar comparison, but using a better version of "compare documents" that shows all three documents (the two originals and the highlighted differences) in a single window, and found a number of disparities between the CNN and American Rhetoric transcript, mostly involving omissions of stuff from CNN that appeared in the "authenticated" transcript. As Greg wrote me:

Regarding the "Mountain Top" speech draft, the CNN transcript lacks a number of lines, scattered throughout the text-- involving Greeks, sanitation workers, Vanderbilt University, etc.-- that indicate there was no animus in the errors (assuming American Rhetoric is a correct transcript). The CNN transcript includes named mentions of Jews—"Amos", the "Levites", while the "redacted" bit is only an allusion.

The guy at First One Through may most charitably be viewed as paranoid.

Clearly I didn't do due diligence in the comparison, so I've taken that down that post and apologize if you had to read it. CNN's treatment of the speech must be regarded as slipshod and inaccurate, but there's no indication of malfeasance or anti-Zionism.

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