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


Monday, November 26, 2007

You-a Culpa II


Time to continue with the theme of "Our Worthless Press," and the sad way in which they vaguely, in a half-assed sort of way, admit that there's a problem with what they, as journotainmentists, are still doing on a daily basis.

As an aside, I'll mention that I had a thought yesterday. Journalists often express their contempt for bloggers as angry radicals, people who criticize through ignorance, reckless troublemakers, etc. Another thing that troubles me is how aloof the press has remained even as the Internet has come to dominate communications. Journalist writes article/column, it's published, someone points out an error, error is ignored or journalists huffily makes excuses. Anyway, my thought was that journalists treat bloggers the way politicians used to treat journalists-- like gadflies. And that's a wonderful thing for a democracy. And bloggers (good ones, anyway, of which there are many) treat their work as journalists used to-- very seriously. I'd suggest that you won't find headline-making bloggers on the guest lists of swanky Beltway cocktail parties. But these days, you'll find plenty of top MSM journalists in attendance.

In my last post, I was talking about Mark Halperin's goofy NYT op-ed, a classic "nonpology" of the sort that makes less sense the more I read it. Although it did make clear that the press is still obsessed with Bill Clinton's tackle-- and takes it more seriously than Bush lying us into war, 80,000 or so corpses, and a few trillion dollars. I really don't know when "journalistic objectivity" came to be defined as equal time for two rivals' biggest boo-boos. Especially when you're talking about the difference between jaywalking and homicide, but there you have it.

Now it's time to talk Klein. Joe Klein. Because the other (or at least one other) shortcoming of today's press is sheer laziness. This is another stunner in the wired world. Fortunately, I don't have to go on and on about it, because Glenn Greenwald has done it for me. Two days running. Sunday's is here, and today's is here.

From Sunday: On Wednesday, I documented the Joe Klein's column in this week's Time magazine contained multiple false statements about the new FISA bill-- the RESTORE Act-- passed by House Democrats last week. The most obvious and harmful inaccuracy was his claim that that bill "would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target's calls to be approved by the FISA court" and that it therefore "would give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans." Based on those outright falsehoods, Klein called the House Democrats' bill "well beyond stupid."

The facts wrong. The accusation groundless. The column in print and online. The journotainmentist weasely.

Today's column looks at the big picture-- how the MSM lets us down beyond election coverage (remember that pesky Iraq-war cheerleading?). Not to mention the cavalier attitude with which they dismiss criticism of such egregious examples of passing on government disinformation as fact.

Greenwald has a helpful link at the end of today's post, too (it comes from a group who should know whereof they speak):

One of the most amazing episodes in modern American journalism has emerged from a flagrantly inaccurate and misguided Time magazine column by Joe Klein. He's a political writer whose work in this case may become Exhibit A for what's wrong with the craft today.

I'd also recommend the first comment on that post. It seems quite reasonable, but highlights the problem: in spite of the fact that Time ran a story attacking an entire political party because the author and editorial staff were either too stupid, lazy or inept to do basic fact-checking-- and in the process misinformed perhaps millions of Americans-- the only people who seem to give a damn are progressive bloggers.

UPDATE: Over at the Prospect, Paul Waldman takes a look at two articles on a little to-do between the Romney and Giuliani campaigns. The papers writing it up were the WaPo and the NYT. And guess what?

If I were an editor at one of these fine papers, and my reporters turned in one of these stories, I'd tell them to figure out whether Romney or Giuliani is telling the truth. You won't find it in either story. So which is it?

That gave Waldman a revolutionary idea: he invested five minutes in a web search-- so that he and his readers would actually know the facts.