Not So Fast, Joe Klein
(We’ll be postponing the Les Leopold Book Salon to give our tech superheroes time to iron out the glitches with the new template. In the mean time, you can never have enough Joke Line…)
Dan Gillmor of the Center for Citizen Media weighs in:
The furor surrounding Joe Klein’s misguided column of a week ago continues, incredibly, given Klein’s bizarre insistence on digging the hole deeper instead of forthrightly acknowledging error(s) and moving on. But this is not just about a columnist’s mistakes and tone-deafness. This is a debacle for the publication and company that employs him, because Time itself has compounded the problem, demonstrating contempt for its audience.
In a not unrelated matter, Glenn Greenwald also today discusses the Washington Post’s embarrassing participation in (and defense of) the recent smear against Barack Obama:
This is without question one of the most significant problems in how our establishment media functions. They refuse to subject claims — particularly claims from the GOP power structure and the right-wing noise machine which they fear — to any critical scrutiny.
For various reasons, they simply will not investigate such claims and, when warranted, identify such claims as false. The most they are willing to do is simply write down each side’s claims and treat them equally, even when one side is blatantly lying. GOP operatives know that this is how the press functions and thus know that they can easily get away with spewing lies, and can even recruit the media into helpfully spreading them (using the predominant "he-said/she-said" template). That’s the same process that led us into Iraq, kept us there for so long, protected endless presidential lawbreaking and enabled all sorts of fact-free smears.
I would add that the journalist-as-stenographer problem is compounded by the fact that people like Joe Klein are not just "treating both sides equally," they are practicing virtually no appropriate skepticism about their sources. I mean, what was he doing talking to Pete Hoekstra anyway? Klein should have by rights outed Hoekstra for passing on bad information anonymously, but Hoekstra did him a favor by exposing himself, which doesn’t really matter because Klein didn’t think he was wrong and wouldn’t have done it anyway….
Why do I feel like my head is at the center of a Rubics cube every time these things come up. Really, it’s exhausting.