Eric Alterman Watches Jonathan Rauch Jump the Shark
Greg Mankiw Endorses Tyler Cowen on the Yuan

Eric Alterman Watches Jonathan Weisman

You know, it is really impossible to believe that Washington Post print editors believe that their own website is a threat to their reputation as objective news reporters. Impossible:

Altercation: Tricks of the trade - Altercation - One of the many, many problems with journalists’ attack on bloggers for lacking professional ethics is not only that many journalists lack any professional ethics—see under “television news, cable, entire,”—but that even when journalists at the top of their profession do their job entirely professionally, their practices often lead us no closer to the truth, and often mislead us away. For instance:

The old “There Are Only Two Options, Here, Mine and Some Idiot’s” dodge:

In a Washington Post chat, an emailer asked reporter, Jonathan Weisman, “Dick Cheney said he was stuck with the grave decision of whether to shoot down the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania or not. The recently released NORAD tapes confirm that the government first knew of the flight one minute before it went down. Is Cheney lying, again, or was he thinking very fast that day, with his drama unfolding within 60 seconds? I've yet to read anywhere that Cheney has been queried about his story. THANKS.

Weisman replied: If I can get him on the phone, I will query him. Cheney's statements present a quandary for us reporters. Sometimes we write them up and are accused of being White House stenographers and stooges for repeating them. Then if we don't write them up, we are accused of being complicit for covering them up. So, all you folks on the left, what'll it be? Complicity or stenography?” Here.

The contempt dripping from Weisman’s typist is evident but his logic is not. Why would it be impossible for Weisman, even without getting Cheney on the phone, and ha ha, what a riot, asking a politician an impolite question—publish what Cheney actually said alongside the evidence that the man is not telling the truth? That would not be “complicity.” That would not be “stenography.” (And by the way sir, in the case of this administration, “complicity” and “stenography” are synonymous.) It would be solid, sensible journalism. Has the Washington Post fallen so far from the ideal of actually trying to tell the public the truth when officials want it hidden that their reporters are actually unfamiliar with the practice?...

Yes, Eric, they have fallen so far.

As I have said before, my first encounter with Jonathan Weisman came when he got a story wrong and I protested. His response?

[F]or someone who got the longest quote in my [Glenn] Hubbard profile, you mercilessly slammed me really good..."

I should, Weisman thinks, be grateful because he gave me "the longest quote" in his article. And--in Weisman's view--what sources really want is not that the story be right but that they be quoted at length in the Washington Post. "Telling the public the truth" doesn't enter the picture at all.