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February 12, 2007

Bad Tux Explains It All For You

Bad Tux the Snarky Penguin says this about Michael "Tape Recorder" Gordon:

I think the problem here is a disconnect between what newspapers see their job as being, and what citizens want and need in order to do their job as citizens of a free nation. Newspapers see their job as being accurate transcriptionists of people in power. But citizens want newspapers to go beyond simply transcribing the words of people of power, and find out what the truth is and report the truth.

Actual email from Michael Gordon defending his Iran article:

I spent some time talking to a range of officials on this issue and quoted the intel reports accurately.

Posted at February 12, 2007 04:29 AM | TrackBack

I think -- really -- that this is quite unfair. The real news here is that the Administration is mounting a propaganda blitz to justify a war with Iran. In some sense it is part of the job of a journalist to report this even -- especially -- if the propaganda is false. Of course it is the job of the rest of the paper to set it in context, to point out that it is almost certainly all lies, and so on. But the real news here is that the Administration wants us to believe these lies. That is, in a sense, more important, and certainly of greater predictive value, than the fact that they are lies, which should in any case be obvious to anyone who has been reading the papers for the last four years.

This is not a very glamorous view of a journalist's role but it is one which anyone who has done the job of news reporter will recognise.

Posted by: Andrew Brown at February 12, 2007 06:02 AM

What makes it fair criticism is that Gordon didn't go out and ask people outside the government what they thought of these allegations.
I don't reject them out of hand myself--it's not unlikely that Iran is arming some Shiite factions and some of these weapons might be used to kill Americans. Maybe Iran even wants this to happen--I don't know. But Gordon didn't bother to seek out other viewpoints.

He could make up for this in the future, but until he does, he's fair game for tape recorder jokes.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at February 12, 2007 11:16 AM

My guess is the general population DOESN'T want to know about the truth. Knowing the truth MEANS getting up and doing something about it. It's more practical to just sit there and listen to the propaganda and let the government take of those problematical nations that hate us because we've got it good. (plus you can be harrassed or even arrested for haveing your own opinion. Patriot Act)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 12, 2007 01:37 PM

Mike, whether the general public wants to know the truth or not, the job of a free press in a democracy has to go beyond simply accurately transcribing the words of those in power, or else there is no need for a free press. We can just tune in to the Ministry of Truth and get the propaganda directly.

Besides, the overall problem is the training that reporters and editors get in today's "journalism" schools, which could be more accurately described as "transcription schools". They are taught a style of "he said she said" transcription, and taught to never attempt to find out the truth because finding out the truth and reporting it is "analysis" rather than "reporting". Thus they give equal weight to lies and truth on their pages -- that's "fair and balanced", as far as they're concerned. But we as citizens of a democracy need more than equal helpings of lies and truth. We need to know who's telling the truth, so that we can properly execute our duties as citizens. That, alas, is a job that the newspapers refuse to do -- thus why so many of us turn to the blogosphere.

- BT

Posted by: BadTux at February 12, 2007 02:42 PM

BT: Those reporters are a product of THIS society. The schools are built and staffed by people from THIS society. Face facts, Their MOM AND DAD raised them up to be like they are, ALL from THIS society. Unless I'm missing from where all the outsourcing is coming, one can ONLY conclude that the whole show IS a reflection of OUR SOCIETY. This is the way we are.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 12, 2007 04:41 PM

Those reporters are a product of THIS society.

Quit making excuses and help us change THIS society.

Posted by: Dayv at February 12, 2007 06:07 PM

The ONLY change I care to see is to rein this Administration. I do that by frequently urging MY FELLOW TAXPAYERS TO STOP PAYING THESE PEOPLE. Call me shallow, but my bone of contention is with the Government and how they spend MY TAXDOLLAR. My Dad raised me to believe that ALL politicians were lying bastards, and the facts seem to PROVE HIS THEORY to a TEE. I see NO better society in the world today, and I don't read the NY Times.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 12, 2007 06:29 PM

I sent an email to NYT back in 2003 where I said

Stenography: GOOD
Fiction: BAD

I was a tad upset with Miller back then. Even had a "Judith Miller goes to jail for the wrong reasons" party. Hoping that one day, she goes to jail, or hell, for the right reasons.

I am a tad less upset this time around because the some of the masses seem to know that they are full of shit.

I wish we had had English writing on those aluminum tubes.......

Posted by: Susan at February 12, 2007 09:17 PM