Dirty to the end

Dirty to the end

: This weekend, I made reference to wackies coming out of the woodwork at the end of an election, making desperate and nutty attempts to dig up or make up something they think will swing the election their way. I refused to dignify the lastest with a link.

But Instapundit links to them today, touting a patently F.O.S. story from the right-wing hobby paper, the NY Sun, that wonders whether John Kerry really got an honorable discharge because the document on his web site is not the document some joker thinks it ought to be. Oh, yeah, as if a dishonorable discharge for a (1) war hero, (2) war protestor, (3) senator, (4) presidential candidate (whose service to the nation has already been slimed by wack jobs determined to destroy him) would not have come out before. Grow up.

Glenn even laments: ” I imagine it’s too late for this story to make much of a difference.”

Couldn’t resist one last mud pie before election day? Glenn had turned down the volume and holstered the mud bullets lately and I was glad to see it. But he apparently couldn’t resist trying to make one last splat.

I don’t want to hear whining about how it was irresponsible of the NY Times and 60 Minutes to come out with a half-baked story that couldn’t be fully investigated and confirmed about missing explosives in Iraq when you link to crap like this and wish it would affect the election. And I do believe it was irresponsible of them and I’ve said so.

Oh, and so did Glenn. See this Instapost from this weekend:

The open partisanship of big media organizations in trying to hurt Bush and help Kerry — a phenomenon that, as Leo notes, is not limited to CBS and RatherGate, but extends to places like The New York Times — is very troubling. The loss of credibility that results will come back to haunt the press in a lot of ways, no matter who wins. I doubt that, in retrospect, they’ll think it was worth it, but I don’t think it was ever calculated, exactly. I think they just can’t help themselves.

Same goes for a blogger’s link to mud like the Sun’s. What’s bad for the goose is bad for the goosed. Or see this Instapost a few days before:

I’VE NEVER READ A CODE OF JOURNALISTIC ETHICS, but it seems to me that this much is clear: it is absolutely intolerable for a news organization to hold onto a story for the purpose of breaking it so close to an election as to prevent a fair investigation and response.


UPDATE-CORRECTION: The Instapost immediately above was by Ann Anlthouse, not by Glenn Reynolds.

: The New York Times belatedly gets around to covering the story of the story of the “missing explosives” and how the paper and CBS News came out with it too close to an election for all the facts to be uncovered and for the administration to have a fair chance to rebut it and its impact on the election.

It’s odd that the story appears in the business section (and not on the front page). It’s wrong that this angle to the story is being covered only now, the day before the election, when it should have been part of the original story (the how-we-are-being-used angle). And it’s a weak story that, of course, lets Times boss Keller off the hook.

In the ensuing uproar over the revelations, charges of journalistic impropriety and partisanship fly and many question whether the news media should report something so controversial so close to Election Day.

There are no firm rules guiding news organizations through these journalistic minefields. Some journalists have no compunction about printing or broadcasting controversial news about a political candidate in the last weeks of an election campaign. Others apply calculus to their deliberations, trying to determine the equation of topic, distance and fairness. Still others refuse to run any investigative articles in the week, or sometimes in the last two days, before the election.

“On the one hand, you’re always weighing what the public needs to know before they vote,” said Michael R. Beschloss, a presidential historian. “On the other hand, are you putting a charge out so close to the election that those who are criticize do not have time to respond.” …

“The timing is really not much of an issue,” Mr. Keller said. “The story was ready to go and was published more than a week before Election Day. There was plenty of time for the candidates on both sides and their partisans to react, for additional information to come out.”

That’s the old Times attitude, still not dead, that when the Times prints it, it must be news and it’s done, it’s finished, it’s history. No, today, that’s when the news cycle begins; that is when new facts, questions, corrections, viewpoints, and implications come out. We’re still haven’t gotten to the bottom of the “missing explosives” story and we won’t be there for weeks or months. But the impact on election — unmeasurable but sure — is already there.

And mind you, I’m a guy who’s voting for Kerry. But I’m not afraid to call my big media colleagues on an unfair move against the other side. Coming out with your own perspective doesn’t mean you lose your fairness; in fact, it should make you fairer as you transparently examine the viewpoint and the impact of what you say. The Times was being used in the explosives story and if it was going to go with the story in the last week of an election — which, again, I say is a dubious decision — they at least should have acknowledged what they obliquely acknowledged today from the first minute, even from the lead. Imagine if it had read like this: “In a story planted with The Times by WHO TK in an apparent attempt to affect the Presidential election….”

: UPDATE: In the comments, Glenn Reynolds responds and I reply in turn. Quoted in full:

Jeff: I wasn’t lamenting, I was pooh-poohing, as would be obvious if you’d take a step back. I’ve been sitting on all those emails that you mentioned, too. The difference is that you mentioned them, and I didn’t.

And the other “instapost” you quote isn’t by me, but by Ann Althouse.

But for the record, while I don’t think the story deserves much attention now, because it’s too late to get to the bottom of it, it’s only a story at all because Kerry has refused to release the records.

For a guy who repeatedly blogs that he’s worried I don’t like him, you sure act like you don’t like me. Luckily, I’m thick-skinned.

Posted by Glenn Reynolds at November 1, 2004 12:59 PM



I didn’t read that as pooh-poohing. Pooh-poohing would be saying, “Well, this story looks like a stinking load of crap and I can’t believe they’re pushing it.” That’s pooh-poohing.

I mentioned getting the emails but I did not quote them or reveal what they said because I did not want to give them a second’s credence. You did by linking to the Sun.

I don’t think it’s “only a story” because Kerry won’t release records. That is a story that has been done often. This story uses no evidence and only conjecture to try to accuse the man of something. It’s still not a story.

Sorry that I got the attribution to Ann wrong. Hope you wish you wrote what she did (and she wrote an awful lot of awfully good posts while you were in your undisclosed location.)

Finally: It’s not personal. I do like you. I respect you. I respect the power of Instapundit. And that is precisely why it deserves the attention, including attention such as this. If big media deserves such attention, then so does Instapundit!

Linking to a load-of-crap (my pooh-poohing) story such as this the day before the election is wrong, I believe.

It is inconsistent with your view (in your own posts) regarding the NY Times’ and 60 Minutes efforts at an October surprise with the too-late “missing weapons” story (which I also decry).

And as you know, I have been consistently disturbed at the level of mudslinging in this campaign, including in blogs — and aimed at both candidates.

This “story” counts as mudslinging of the worst order.

And linking to mudslinging gets some on you.

Posted by Jeff Jarvis at November 1, 2004 01:15 PM