Life Imitates the National Debate
Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults. … I didn’t give Krugman … the chance to respond before writing the last two paragraphs. I decided to impersonate an opinion columnist.
Don’t ask the obvious question — “Why didn’t you write about it, Dan?”, because, ho, ultimately he has, hasn’t he? Believe me, for the Times, that’s not a long delay before acknowledging the truth. Heck, I had to hit “refresh” a couple of times to make sure it wasn’t a parody. And you’ll forgive me for that — Hard not to think that our friend Bob Cox of the [now-defunct] blog The National Debate ultimately had an effect on his sometime lunch companion. The two met shortly after the Times and Bob locked horns over the latter’s posting of a Times “corrections page we’d like to see” that made the point — a bit too realistically for the Old Grey Lady — that for no good reason, misstatements of fact and other errors in Op-Ed columns are never corrected in the paper unless the columnist himself decides to make such a correction. (Not that the Times loses a lot of sleep over corrections.)
The Times screamed copyright infringement (they would have done better to claim trade dress infringement, but the DMCA works better for copyright bullies than trademark ones). Bob found himself a smart lawyer and, suitably hit on the nose with a rolled up New York Post, the angry doggie backed off. Cucumber sandwiches, and the founding of the Media Bloggers Association by Bob, followed.
While, not suprisingly, the Okrent column is tantalizing for what could have been, there were a couple of other nice nuggets. This one hit my particular vein:
I still cherish the First [Amendment]; I still think it’s the cornerstone of democracy. But I would love to see journalists justify their work not by wrapping themselves in the cloak of the law, but by invoking more persuasive defenses: accuracy, for instance, and fairness.
Say it, Dan. Too little, not entirely too late; but better than nothing.