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You Could Write an Entire Washington Post Article Quoting People Who Are Lying without Telling Your Readers

Hoisted from the Archives: April 2009:

Washington Post Crashed-and-Burned Watch: Matthew Yglesias says that if you follow the operating procedures of the Washington Post "you could do an entire article that consisted of accurately quoting people who are lying, and wind up badly misinforming your readers." In the Len Downie-Fred Hiatt Post, Matt, that's not a bug--that's a feature:

Matthew Yglesias: Post Reporter Says It’s Not His Job to Check the Accuracy of People He’s Quoting: You rarely see the kind of full-throated defense of journalism-as-stenography that The Washington Post’s Paul Kane offers up here:

New York, N.Y.: Paul, do you care to defend yourself against this criticism from Media Matters? “In an April 9 article about Democrats’ legislative priorities, The Washington Post wrote, ‘Democrats are sure to incite Republicans if they adopt a shortcut that would allow them to pass major health-care and education bills with just 51 votes in the Senate, where Democrats are two seats shy of the filibuster-proof margin of 60 seats. The rule, known as ‘reconciliation,’ would fuel GOP charges that (President) Obama has ditched bipartisanship.’ The article, by Paul Kane and Shailagh Murray, then quoted Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) saying, ‘If they exercise that tool, it’s going to be infinitely more difficult to bridge the partisan divide.’ However, Kane and Murray did not mention that congressional Republicans — including Snowe herself — voted to allow the use of the budget reconciliation process to pass major Bush administration initiatives. Indeed, Murray herself noted in an April 1 article that ‘(a)dvocates defend reconciliation as a legitimate tool used more often by Republicans in recent years, most notably to pass President George W. Bush’s tax cuts.’ ”

Paul Kane: I’m sorry, what’s to defend? Someone tell Media Matters to get over themselves and their overblown ego of righteousness. We reported what Olympia Snowe said. That’s what she said. That’s what Republicans are saying. I really don’t know what you want of us. We are not opinion writers whose job is to play some sorta gotcha game with lawmakers.

This is fairly simple. What we want is that if you’re going to quote someone saying something dishonest, you report the fact that they’re lying…. This isn’t a matter of “gotcha games,” it’s crucial. Otherwise, operating by Kane standards you could do an entire article that consisted of accurately quoting people who are lying, and wind up badly misinforming your readers.

The interesting thing is that the Washington Post is still very proud of the fact that nothing in their news pages can be trusted:

Hullabaloo: This exchange on the Washington Post chat on Monday with reporter Paul Kane explains perfectly why these political operatives have no worries about telling the truth:

A. PAUL KANE: Yeah, you're right. I think this point is just absurd and ridiculous. This is a big thing among folks calling it "moral equivalence" (Fallows, Ornstein) and others calling it the "cult of balance" (Krugman). It's just stupid. If you want someone to tell you that Republicans stink, read opinion pages. Read blogs. Also, the underlying sentiment on the left is that this is the real reason why things went wrong in 2010: That the mainstream media is to blame. Sorry, I think that's the sorta head-in-sand outlook that leads to longer term problems for a movement. Greg is a fine writer. He's an opinion writer, in the opinion section of the web site. I encourage you to keep reading him. And I encourage you to keep reading the news coverage, which should always strive to present both sides of the story. If you really don't want to hear anything about the other side of the story, I really do encourage you to stop reading the news section.

And Digby comments:

[Paul Kane] is right about one thing. You should stop reading anything t[he] writes because clearly it is completely worthless. He is simply not interested in the truth and gets angry when anyone calls him on it…. Indeed, his defensiveness is most telling --- clearly, he knows on some level that he's bullshitting his readers…

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

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