McCarthy’s Quote of the Week: Roll Call

Why won’t Buffalo News political columnist Bob McCarthy cite his sources?

In Sunday’s column, he writes

• Quote of the Week comes from Congressman-elect Chris Collins, who while in Washington a few days ago mistakenly found himself in a caucus room with people like Nancy Pelosi – and not John Boehner.

According to one congressional source attending, Republican Collins – breakfast plate in hand – suddenly rushed over to him and asked: “Wait … what meeting is this?” – only to be told he was in the Democratic caucus.

“Oh s***, I’m in the wrong meeting,” Collins was quoted as saying. “Where are the Republicans meeting?”

New Chief of Staff Chris Grant seems to be getting the hang of Washington spin.

“Congressman-elect Collins believes very strongly in reaching bipartisan solutions to fix this country’s problems,” Grant said. “What better way to accomplish that than introducing himself to his colleagues on the other side of the aisle?”

Quoted where? To whom? Why did McCarthy so cavalierly write this up without mentioning his source; that it was printed online several days ago? The way in which he writes it for the News, you’d think it was his story – that some source of McCarthy’s provided him with these quotes. 

Well, if you read AV Daily, you’d have known on Thursday that the story came from the “Heard on the Hill” section of Roll Call. The byline for that story is Warren Rojas, and every single quote that McCarthy co-opts as his own come from Rojas’ story posted last Wednesday. An NYU handbook for journalism students explains

“Sources” may also be defined as research material, including newspapers, magazines, books, research reports, studies, polls, radio, television, newsreels, documentaries, movies, audio podcasts or video from the Web. All such sources, particularly secondary sources, should be carefully vetted. Good journalists don’t simply extract information, or claims, from written or broadcast material; they check that material against other or similar material for accuracy. Just because something is published doesn’t mean it’s accurate or fair. Wikipedia, for example, is not always an accurate source and should not be cited as such. 

The reporter must clearly indicate where information comes from. Failure to disclose your reliance on someone else’s work is unethical, and can leave readers or viewers in the dark about the legitimacy of the information. This does  not hold true if something is a well-known fact that is beyond reasonable dispute. For example, it would not be necessary to cite a source for “John Adams was the second president of the United States.”

McCarthy’s quote of the week comes from Roll Call, not Chris Collins. Omitting the source for his material is unethical. 


  • Come on, we all know who McCarthy’s source always is… Steve Pigeon.

  • Why in the world would any of you want to discourage Steve Pigeon from politics in Erie County?  He is, afterall, the gift that keeps on giving.  He may not be up there with Joel Giambra or Chris Collins as top political buggymen, but as more time passes, more and more people know who he is and know what his politics are all about.  We especially need Steve Pigeon in the Democratic primary because when voters hear Pigeon is behind a candidate, that candidate loses every single time.  Pigeon reminds me of a story I saw on TV a few months back, about the aftermath of New York City implementing a “pooper scooper” law in the 1970s, resulting in the mass abandonment of thousands of dogs left wondering the streets.  In a cruel fix to the problem, city officials deployed crews armed with the ultimate weapon to lure male dogs to their imminment doom – female dogs in heat.  In the video, you can see the expressions on the dogs’ faces as they approach the female dog in heat, they know there is a problem because men are standing near the ‘bitch’ with poles, taking other dogs away as they near the female dog.  There are fifteen male dogs getting taken away but they just can’t help themselves, they just keep coming.  It really is funny how any candidate would get anywhere near Steve Pigeon, but perhaps like the doomed dogs in NYC, they just can’t resist the thought that they may get the prize when no one else has.

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