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The Accuracy of the Brooks

7
mythago
03-28-2004
01:38 PM ET (US)
So if it is my opinion that Safire's opinion is wrong, am I not right? Opinions cannot be wrong, by his definition. On the other hand, if he cannot be wrong, then I must be wrong--but mine is an opinion...
6
Aaron LarsonPerson was signed in when posted
03-28-2004
09:03 AM ET (US)
The New York Times, through Public Editor Daniel Okrent, today explains its historic policy toward editorials:
When I began in this job last fall, I was told The Times considered the space granted Op-Ed columnists theirs to use as they wish, subject only to the limits of legality, decency and publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr.'s patience. Columnists decided when to run corrections, and where in their columns to run them.
He describes, also, a growing desire that columnists run corrections of their errors, but also that it can be difficult to determine a tipping point where an opinion (even a biased opinion) is an "error".
This sort of contentiousness makes a clear, publicly stated corrections policy necessary, and finding a bright line in such murky precincts isn't easy. At the very minimum, anything that is indisputably inaccurate must be corrected: there is no protected opinion that holds that the sun rises in the west. Same with the patent misuse or distortion of quotations that are already in the public record. But if Safire asserts that there is a "smoking gun" linking Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein, then even David Corn's best shots (which include many citations from Times news stories) aren't going to prove it isn't so. "An opinion may be wrongheaded," Safire told me by e-mail last week, "but it is never wrong. A belief or a conviction, no matter how illogical, crackbrained or infuriating, is an idea subject to vigorous dispute but is not an assertion subject to editorial or legal correction."
Edited 03-28-2004 09:04 AM
5
Aaron LarsonPerson was signed in when posted
03-27-2004
09:04 AM ET (US)
Editorials typically are not fact-checked in the same manner as news reporting. Columnists are largely responsible for their own fact-checking (unless they are able to stifle their egos and ask for assistance), and newspapers typically don't do much or any double-checking. That's how we get things like Brooks "making stuff up", and the recitation of urban legends as fact by columnists such as William F. Buckley Jr. (just this month) and.... the guy whose idiotorial I dissected a few months back.
4
Lynne Fremont
03-26-2004
11:45 PM ET (US)
Yes, the editors should check all the facts from any joke that isnt funny ;) Seriously though, I am kind of surprised that the NYT didnt. But I guess I can be kind of dense about such things sometimes.
3
mythago
03-26-2004
06:22 PM ET (US)
I particularly like the part where he responds to questions about his work by attacking the questioner's journalism skills.
2
Aaron LarsonPerson was signed in when posted
03-26-2004
04:47 PM ET (US)
How about a joke like, "Voters in blue states are, on the whole, more literate than voters in red states." I know - you're rolling on the floor. But is that the type of factual assertion you think an editorial writer should check?
1
Lynne Fremont
03-26-2004
03:50 PM ET (US)
Ok, I have to confess, I never check my facts when I am telling a joke. ;)

A meatloaf walks into a bar and...

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