So, the New York Times’ public editor is asking – seriously, this is not an Onion parody – “whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.” Again, this is not meant as a joke; he’s really asking the question. Let me help you, Mr. Brisbane.
Was that a clear enough answer? No? OK, then, here are a few examples to illustrate.
1. A politician, almost certainly a Republican’t, claims that there’s no scientific consensus on global warming (oh yes there is, big time!), or that there’s some big conspiracy/scandal about a few random emails climate scientists sent (oh no there isn’t!), or whatever other crazy/idiotic/ignorant/fallacious comment the Republican’t politician made. In the article, you quote the Republican’t, then immediately say something like, “of course, as everyone knows, THAT IS NOT TRUE, in fact it is a OUTRIGHT LIE.” Got it?
2. Another politician, against almost certainly a Republican’t, claims that “Obamacare” (not its real name, which should also be pointed out as a lie) increases the deficit. In the article, you quote the lying Republican’t, then immediately say something like, “of course, as the non-partisan CBO says, THAT IS NOT TRUE, in fact it is an OUTRIGHT LIE.” Got it?
3. Yet another politician, amazingly yet again a Republican’t (sensing a pattern here?), claims that up is down, black is white, hot is cold, Obama’s a Kenyan anti-colonialist, Democrats are really socialists, there’s no such thing as evolution, the recession didn’t start under President Bush, blah blah blah. Again, in the article, you quote the crazy/lying liar Republican’t, then immediately say something like, “yes, these people are utterly nuts, factually challenged, pathological liars, etc.” Got it?
Then, the media might actually start to regain a bit of the credibility it’s utterly lost in recent years, by its constant perpetuation of an absurd and false “balance” between “both sides” of any “argument” (e.g., one side says the earth is flat, the other says it’s round). But will they do that? I mean, reporting the facts and letting readers know when someone’s telling a lie is just so hard, it would require reporters and editors to get off their fat behinds and actually do what they are getting paid good money to do. What a concept, huh?