2005/04/19

My letter to Time Magazine

Every now and then, someone in the mainstream media scribbles out an article about how terribly unprofessional and unreliable the blogs are. As a lot of blogs are one-person shops that close down and reopen for personal reasons (A case in point is that immediately after the 2004 election, many liberal political bloggers ran recipes and cooking tips because they were burned out on politics. Within a week or so they were back to their old selves.) and as their fact-checking/correcting depends entirely on how conscientious the blogger is, a lot of this criticism is valid.


But when mainstream media criticizes the blogs and then prints up complete junk like the 6,000-word-with-pin-up-cover of a whack-job like Ann Coulter, they completely forgo any claim to be putting out any kind of superior product.

This is a woman who refers to “liberals” as traitors. Now, being a traitor is defined in the US Constitution as a specific crime. According to one's definition of “liberal”, whether someone self-identifies as a liberal or whether one (or one's parents) voted for John Kerry, liberals make up between 50 to 120 MILLION people!!! A conservative referred to Coulter as engaging in “parody”. Having read some of her writing, I assure you she is not engaged in anything of the sort. She writes with the complete conviction that what she says is true.

The article makes it sound as though Coulter's work on the Paula Jones case was something to be proud of. As I remember it, Ms Jones managed to prove that she and Governor Bill Clinton attended the same convention and, well, that was about it. Everything else that was reported about their encounter was 100% dependent on us taking Ms Jones' word for it. The judge in her case told her that even if everything she asserted were true, she still would not have an actionable case of harassment to lodge against Clinton.

April and May of 2004 were exceedingly bloody months for American troops in Iraq. For Coulter to assert in that June that the war was going “fabulously well” strikes me as the statement of a deranged lunatic, yet the Time article makes no comment upon the sanity of this statement.

The assertion that Coulter's long bibliography contains only one misstatement of fact is simply a lie. One can't possibly be so ignorant of her writing as to think that her work is generally or even mostly accurate, There's also a reason I didn't repeat your term “mistake”. Coulter's misstatements are not “errors”. She knows full well that what she's saying isn't true. When her fellow polemicist Rush Limbaugh makes misstatements, it's far too kind to refer to them as errors as he doesn't even have a fact-checker on his staff. When he makes misstatements, they're the result of a deliberate and conscious policy. Both Ann and Rush engage in what can be legally referred to “reckless disregard” of the facts of the case. They just couldn't possibly care less about whether what they're saying is accurate.

And...wow...Coulter “...can write about gender issues with particular sensitivity.”?? Her statement on feminism begins: “The real reason I loathe and detest feminists is...” And refers to a “girl general”??? If THESE count as sensitivity...hoo boy!!

This letter is only tangentially about Ann Coulter, which is why I didn't. write it to her, but to you. Mostly, it's about Time Magazine's incredibly sloppy and careless editorial process. If the comment about Coulter's accuracy was not a deliberate and outright lie, then I have very serious concerns about the asleep-at-the-wheel editors and fact-checkers who work there. Media people have been heard to complain about how no one respects them, readership is declining, people don't believe them, etc., etc.

I assure you, this type of article is not going to help matters.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rich's comments about the irresponsible editing by TIME.
But no commentary on Anne Coulter should go by without mention of the fact that her main claim to fame is as author of a book claiming that the infamous Sen. Joe McCarthy, who persuecuted liberals and leftists in the 50's, was "right" to do so.

Anne would love to have a new
"McCoulter" period, where liberals and lefties are afraid to speak out.

But the good news is -- she's way off base. The recent Univ. of MD
poll (www.PIPA.org) shows that 2/3 of Americans dislike the war, agree with lowering defense spending (including a majority of Republicans, Anne), and think the govt should do a whole lot more on education, health, and especially renewable energy, to avoid more Oil Wars.

This is why the DeLay-Bolton types
are now under fire, because Congress, however haltingly, begins to see new trends with the American electorate, and begins to respond to them.

In our current 'boutique' media culture, will Anne go the way of Joe McCarthy? Probably not, but she will more and more be seen as irrelevant, something which will
gall her even more....

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen:

As most liberals that I know, you claim to know the "truth" and eschew "facts" that are completely incorrect. It is obvious that you are full of hot air when you claim that "Rush doesn't even have a fact-checker on his staff...". That is a completely false statement. He does and has for years.

Why not at least attempt to do some basic research before going off on an emotion based rant?

Rich said...

Had my esteemed critic done some research of his own, he would have discovered that I was not simply pulling my remarks on Limbaugh out of my butt.

Fair.org did a whole book on Rush's many misstatements and exaggerations and in their book did an investigation and concluded that Rush did not, in fact, employ a fact-checker. I was not able to find that particular statement on Fair's site, but the reference goes to a representative sample of his many misstatements and I will testify that that was in their book.

Now, has that information changed and has Rush hired a fact-checker since then? Here I must admit that I have no idea. The information on this may very well have changed. But I disagree with the charge that I'm "full of hot air".