Honest Criticism vs. Right Wing Bullying: All Things Aren’t Equal
It’s rather shocking to see how discombobulated Time Magazine has become over the whole Joe Klein/FISA debacle. Did they learn nothing from the Washington Post’s Deborah Howell episode? If they thought they could get away with jamming their fingers in their ears and singing “la la la I can’t hear you,” the Chicago Tribune just stuck it to them by printing a genuine correction to the Klein abomination:
CORRECTIONS AND CLARIFICATIONS
A Time magazine essay by Joe Klein that was excerpted on the editorial page Wednesday incorrectly stated that the House Democratic version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act would require a court approval of individual foreign surveillance targets. It does not.
When I was calling around trying to find out what the editing process at Time was on the piece, I asked several people about how a column actually gets into print there. I’ll spare you the story of everyone sitting around the conference table pitching their ideas (“I think I’ll take the Democrats to task for being lax on national security this week…” “Oh, Joe! Such golden insights…that’s why we pay you the big money…”) and skip right to the part where everybody in the building is worried about the right wing beating them up for being too liberal.
This is a Very Serious Concern for the editorial class at Time Magazine. On the other hand, liberals such as ourselves calling out Klein for being wildly inaccurate and a dupe for Republican hacks (as well as his vanity-soaked editors, who won’t allow the magazine to acknowledge the mistake even after Klein did so himself) are considered a giant pain in the ass. It does, however, accommodate everyone’s desire to shrugs their shoulders, pat themselves on the back and conclude that if they’re being criticized by both sides they’re probably doing everything right. They then retreat to the bar and hope eventually everyone will just shut up and it will all blow over.
There is a systemic problem of perspective here. These critiques are not equal. When Greenwald called out Klein, it was based on his column’s demonstrable factual inaccuracy. Glenn is a noted First Amendment lawyer who has written two books addressing the subject of FISA law. You can’t just dismiss him by calling him a partisan and shrieking until he goes away. His analysis needs to be addressed on a point-by-point basis, and a failure to do so will get you Paul Lukasiak in your comment section.
The right wing, on the other hand, becomes incensed when someone does not subscribe to their narrative and dares to challenge (or even meaningfully question) those in authority. The Pravda-like cheerleading on behalf of the state that this encourages should be highly objectionable to every journalist interested in the perpetuation of a free press, especially since the wingnuts would like to see anyone who does not respond to that authority with basset-like obedience subjected to the annihilation of William Wallace.
Case in point. I’m on the RedState mailing list, and this is the email I got from them today:
Dear RedState Reader:
RedState is calling for CNN to fire Sam Feist, their political director; and David Bohrman, Senior Vice President and Executive Producer of the debate.
During last night’s debate, which CNN billed as “a Republican debate, and the goal was to let Republican voters see their candidates,” CNN either knowingly or incompetently allowed hardcore left wing activists to plant questions and Anderson Cooper willingly gave one of those activists a soapbox so he could harass the Republican candidates about military policy.
Simple googling would have revealed these left wing activists.
Had CNN done its homework, this would not have happened. They either willfully let it happen, or incompetently bungled it. Either way, heads should roll.
Likewise, we hope one or more of the GOP Presidential candidates will call for a do-over debate on substantive policy issues.
You can read our Directors post here.
All the best,
When the Democratic YouTube debates were broadcast, we were delighted by the fact that candidates were being asked honest and tough questions by real people, including right wing gun nuts. Nobody complained, we were happy that the questions weren’t being asked by media hogs who had their own agenda (see Russert, Tim). The fact that the Republicans could not stand up to that kind of discussion, which did not take place within their hermetically sealed world view, was something people predicted at the time. Last night’s embarrassment came not because of liberal questions, but rather because the GOP has an exceptionally poor lineup pandering to an extreme, delusional minority.
The Time Magazine folks can look to these bullies for their journalistic etiquette cues at their own peril. Stenography is certainly the path of least resistance these days, but the copious amounts of alcohol required to obliterate one’s professional pride in the process can be a bit hard on the internal organs.
(graphic by alysheba/millineryman)