The story is the story

The story is the story

: Amazing how anything can split and anyone can spit along party and ideological lines, even about Newsweek’s incompetent and dangerous journalistic mistake. I was talking about that with Jay Rosen just last night: about how his criticism of Newsweek’s error has earned him attacks from the left.

Isn’t this story about journalism, not ideology? For some, though, nothing is not about ideology.

David Brooks does well summarizing the ideological perspectives and pissing on the Newsweek affair.

…Every faction up and down the political spectrum has used the magazine’s blunder as a chance to open fire on its favorite targets, turning this into a fevered hunting season for the straw men.

Many of my friends on the right have decided that the Newsweek episode exposes the rotten core of the liberal media….

Meanwhile, the left side of the blogosphere has erupted with fury over the possibility that American interrogators might not have flushed a Koran down the toilet….

This, too, is unhinged. Would it be illegal for more people on the left to actually be happy that a story slurring Americans may turn out to be unproven?…

Then I click my mouse over to the transcripts of administration statements and I can’t believe what I’m seeing. We’re in the middle of an ideological war against people who want to destroy us, and what have the most powerful people on earth become? Whining media bashers.

Whining media bashers? How about dissatisifed media consumers? How about disappointed fellow journalists? How about unhappy fellow Americans?

Brooks is right to say that it’s silly and offensive to bash Newsweek and not bash the fanatical murderers who used this report as an excuse to kill.

But I think he’s wrong not to bash Newsweek himself, not to also criticize the magazine for making such an irresponsible error.

Brooks spends a paragraph saying that he used to work at Newsweek and he likes those guys and doesn’t believe they’re commies and that’s very nice.

But by not criticizing the report, the net message of this otherwise spot-on column is that press people defend press people, that we circle our wagons around our screw-ups, that we stick together first. Especially today, with the press’ trust in tatters, that is the wrong message.

What we should be saying is that we criticize each other first and we accept those criticisms first because we want to get to the truth together.

When the still-surprisingly-employed Dan Rather screwed up with his memoes — and after my readers here forced me to comment on that as a media story not a political one — Rosen and I were pointed to as liberals who criticized Rather along with the conservatives. That may have been apparently factual but it was the wrong conclusion: We were journalists criticizing journalists because we should.