The Herald refused to apologise after a series of stories which diplomats complained had been distorted arguing that newspapers throughout the world were not immune to making mistakes and The Herald was no exception.
The paper argued that there was a clear distinction between a mistake and publishing falsehoods.
“Any newspaper worth its salt knows that it is a cardinal sin to create fictitious stories, as this is detrimental to its credibility,” the paper said.
But it went on: “It is every newspaper's journalistic right to put into context, rightly or wrongly, statements made by public officials. There is nothing new in this.”
Viewing cable 03HARARE262, GOVERNMENT PAPER REFUSES TO APOLOGIZE FOR
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 000262
DEPT FOR AF/PDPA FOR DALTON, MITCHELL AND SIMS
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E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT PAPER REFUSES TO APOLOGIZE FOR
¶1. On January 25, UN WFP Envoy James Morris took the
government-owned "Herald" to task for gross distortions
in their report of his remarks after a January 24
meeting with Robert Mugabe. Morris characterized the
"Herald's" article as "100 percent lies."
¶2. On January 29, Japan's Ambassador to Zimbabwe
wrote a letter to the "Herald" complaining bitterly of
the paper's "fabrications" and "misrepresentations" in
their January 28 report about his meeting with
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.
¶3. On February 4, U.S. Ambassador Sullivan wrote the
"Herald" to refute the paper's false account of his
effort to be allowed to observe the Morgan Tsvangirai
¶4. On February 6, the "Herald" responded to this
string of journalistic mistakes with a defensive
editorial entitled "Mistakes are different from
falsehoods." Excerpts follow.
¶5. "Newspapers throughout the world are not immune to
making mistakes and `The Herald' is no exception.
However, there is a clear distinction between a mistake
and publishing falsehoods. Any newspaper worth its
salt knows that it is a cardinal sin to create
fictitious stories, as this is detrimental to its
credibility. It is, indeed, normal for different
publications or broadcasters to make divergent
interpretations to a news event. It is in this regard
that `The Herald' takes great exception to attempts by
the discredited opposition mouthpiece, `The Daily
News,' to equate mistakes made by this newspaper to
lies published by `The Daily News. . .'
"It is every newspaper's journalistic right to
put into context, rightly or wrongly, statements
made by public officials. There is nothing new
in this. It is only foolishness or malice to
say our interpretation was a quote because it
clearly was not written as such. . . So we have
no apologies to make to either Ambassador Liyama
or Special Envoy Morris for doing our job as
journalists but it is their job to be
categorical when answering reporters' questions.
If either Special Envoy Morris or Ambassador
Liyama believe we have contravened any law, we
are ready to have that tested and determined in
a court of law and not on the pages of an