Their day shall come

Their day shall come
: Dan Okrent’s latest column is up — a chatty and entertaining interview with himself (in which he admits that some Timesmen are — gasp — snotty and mean to him). He finally tiptoes up to the issue of standards for Times columnists:

Q. What about the editorial page and the columnists? You never write about them.

A. As it largely should be. Most correspondents who complain to me about opinions expressed in editorials or in the space allotted regular columnists are likely to receive this reply: “Editorial writers and columnists are free to express whatever opinions they wish, and readers are free to disagree with them.”

However, some related issues that have come up have attracted my attention. One is whether (or how) The Times’s editorial positions determine its news coverage. Another is whether columnists should be free, as they are now, to decide whether and when to publish corrections of their own mistakes. One especially determined critic keeps asking “whether there is such a thing as an unfair opinion.” (An e-mail note I received this week charged that one columnist “has crossed the line from acceptable or at least standard partisan nonsense to actual irresponsible journalism.”) These are all provocative questions, and I hope to be addressing each of them at some point – the corrections policy first, certainly within the next couple of months.

My advice, bloggers: Fact-check their ass. The next time Dowd says something you think is wrong or unfairly truncates a quote, gather the facts and figures, publish them on the blogosphere to gather more facts and figures and get everything airtight, and email Okrent (at

: Atrios says he gives Okrent mixed reviews but doesn’t say why. That as unsatisfying as a tofu taco.