The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Journalism the Hard Way

It's interesting to see how much attention Joe Klein's now-infamous column is getting from the blogs.  And it's a good thing to see-- even though I realize it's exactly the sort of thing that convinces conservative friends of mine that I'm a goofy radical.

As Glenn Greenwald noted two days ago, his attempts to get Time magazine to own up to the failure of Klein, his editor, and the powers that be to correct a demonstrable falsehood published in their print and online versions were met with silence.  But that all changed yesterday, when his attempts were met with scorn and derision.  And, of course, the usual defense that their job consists solely of recording the he-said/she-said of a given issue.  Facts, just as a friendly reminder, are irrelevant.

Time's correction:

In the original version of this story, Joe Klein wrote that the House Democratic version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) would allow a court review of individual foreign surveillance targets. Republicans believe the bill can be interpreted that way, but Democrats don't.

And Greenwald's continuing amazement (shared by many of us) that this is considered acceptable by the press: 

It is worth underscoring that this entire episode began when Klein toldTime's 4 million readers -- and Time actually claims an average issue audience of more than 20 million people -- that House Democrats were seeking to protect foreign Terrorists to the same extent as American citizens (and were therefore "well beyond stupid"). When it was demonstrated that Klein's statements were outright false, he said that a source told him this and "I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right." Time's Editors now think that no correction to this false smear is needed beyond: "Republicans believe the bill can be interpreted that way, but Democrats don't."

By their own numbers, 20 million people could see Klein's bogus claims-- presented as fact, later revealed to be a Republican sound bite and a lie.  But he doesn't care, his editors don't care, and his bosses don't care.

So why not at least try to have a chuckle over the whole affair?  The link above takes us all to task for lacking even the most elementary knowledge of what journalism is all about.