Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Oh, yes he did. Some curious backtracking today about the investigation into Pete Townshend's visits to child-pornography websites. (He admits that it's true, so no "alleged.") Today's New York Times update includes this weasel paragraph:

Mr. Townshend, who says he suspects he was abused as a child, said he had viewed child pornography on the Internet -- but had not downloaded it -- while researching his autobiography and as part of his longtime campaign against child sexual abuse.

The Boston Globe ran a correction on page A2, blaming it all on the Associated Press and adding: "Townshend said only that he had used his credit card to enter the site and told a London newspaper he had never downloaded child pornography." And, yes, the AP has "corrected" its original report.

Geez. Don't these people know anything?

If Townshend "viewed child pornography on the Internet," as the Times reports, then he downloaded it. Every page you visit on the Web downloads to your computer. When the little "E" or "N" is moving in the upper right corner of Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator, it's telling you that the page you've requested is in the process of being -- yes -- downloaded.

Townsend apparently means that he didn't save any of the images he'd downloaded to his hard drive, but that's a distinction without a difference. As his lawyer has no doubt explained to him by now, the images he admits to having looked at may actually be on his hard drive, whether he realizes it or not. Unfortunately for Townshend, his computer is currently in the hands of the authorities.

If the editors at the AP, the Times, and the Globe had an ounce of understanding about the way the Internet works, they would have realized that no correction or clarification was needed.

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