Punk the National Review

by Ted on February 3, 2004

The National Review, one of America’s premiere journals of conservative opinion, has started publishing letters from anonymous readers who claim to have had unpleasant experiences with leading Democratic candidates. (Here’s one on Kerry and one on Clark.) If you possess an email address and an eye-opening story, you’ve passed the rigorous fact-checking that has made National Review and the Penthouse Forum world-famous.

In honor of this editorial decision, I would like to propose my first contest ever:

Punk the National Review

The rules are simple:

– Send the National Review an email with an imaginary story of your first-hand experience with a Democratic presidential candidate or elected official. – Send it to me at the same time- I don’t want anyone to claim retrospective credit. (ted at crookedtimber.org) (UPDATE: Be sure to blind carbon copy, or send it separately- it’ll give the game away if it’s a regular CC.) – Up to three readers who get a letter published in the National Review (either in the Corner or in a story) will get a $10 gift certificate for Amazon.com from me. – The contest runs from right now until March 31. If more than one letter is published, I will let readers judge the most outrageous letter that hit the virtual pages of the National Review. The winner of this contest will receive a $20 Amazon gift certificate. If more than three letters are run, all published letters will be eligible for this prize.

Good luck to all of you.

{ 209 comments }

1

Gryn 02.03.04 at 5:53 pm

Might want to specify that a person needs to add you as a *Blind* Carbon Copy (BCC) or send a copy of the email and *NOT* just CC Ted. Otherwise you will tip them off.

2

frankly0 02.03.04 at 5:58 pm

This has got to be the best idea EVER.

Imagine the poor editors at the NR. How on earth are they going to distinguish the sincerely fabricated stories from Republicans from the fake fabricated stories from Democrats?

3

Paul 02.03.04 at 6:04 pm

Dear National Review,

I never believed the letters you print until one day my girlfriend and I met Joe Lieberman and his wife, Hadassah …

4

Athenae 02.03.04 at 6:05 pm

You may also want to then notify the National Review that the letters were fabricated, thus embarrassing them completely.

I can see this having appeal to political columnists as well, if we can pull it off.

A.

5

Ophelia Benson 02.03.04 at 6:11 pm

Echoes of the dear darling Sokal hoax…

6

anonymous 02.03.04 at 6:26 pm

I am somewhat concerned here; maybe I just don’t have a sense of humor.

You offered to pay people to lie. Right? To say something known to be untrue for the purpose of deception.

Are there any ethical problems with this? I would have a real problem doing it. Is it just that it is okay to lie to liars (i.e. National Review)?

Serious questions, not just trolling. I am probably wrong, but this post just set off something that bothers me, and I can’t see how to think about it clearly.

7

Tom Dissento 02.03.04 at 6:29 pm

Jonah Goldberg’s onto the plan!

“PUNK NR? [ Jonah Goldberg ]
A blogger called Crooked Timber of Humanity thinks that he’s going to slip fake emails into the Corner. Of course, it’s always possible. But I’d like to make a few points. First, contrary to his insinuations, you’d be amazed at how many juicey emails I don’t post precisely because they have that too good to be true feel to them. Second, while the posts in the Corner may be anonymous, they are virtually never anonymous to me. People sign their names and give their addresses and I choose to withhold them. Third, the vast majority of emails are expressions of opinion not reportage of facts. Last, at this point you’d think most bloggers — and Corner readers — understand that some emails should certainly be taken with a grain of salt on the off-chance a correspondent is embellishing. Besides, we run corrections to our own posts and reader emails all the time. But, let “Crooked Timber of Humanity” have his fun. I’m sure he thinks he’s being very clever.”

8

Ted Barlow 02.03.04 at 6:31 pm

Anonymous,

Seriously, the National Review shouldn’t be publishing stories if they have absolutely no way of knowing that they are true. I’m hoping to throw that into sharp relief.

If they get an email that says “I saw John Kerry cut to the front of the line,” or “I gave John Kerry Botox” or “John Edwards ran over my puppy”- neither they nor their readers have any idea about whether it’s true or not. They’re not a hobby blogger- they’re paid professionals, and they should know better.

9

anonymous 02.03.04 at 6:33 pm

Dude, that is sweet! I was wondering what I was going to do today! My question is, since I’m unemployed and have to browse from the local library, won’t Ashcroft be able to read my mails under the Patriot Act? Or maybe that’s what you’re trying to do… being a front for Ashcroft to collect names of progressives.

10

HS Thompson 02.03.04 at 6:34 pm

Timber… this no new idea… you would barely even to fathom how many of us NRO-niks have been e-mailing ANY and ALL of the Dem nominees about how they are the greatest thing since sliced bread…

11

Ted Barlow 02.03.04 at 6:34 pm

Tom,

I actually personally contacted the National Review to tell them that I was doing this. I don’t really expect any emails to get through- I expect them to stop running anonymous emails that purport to tell juicy stories about Democrats.

I couldn’t possibly object to emails expressing personal opinions, of course, whether they’re anonymous or not.

12

Katherine 02.03.04 at 6:35 pm

I wonder what they’d make of a story about Howard Dean and Roy Neel discussing whose corpses should be dug up and hung.

(one the topics on the Corner today. Yeah, that’ll show Thurgood Marshall. Christ.)

13

HS Thompson 02.03.04 at 6:37 pm

…I mean, did you think all that Clark and Dean hype was for real?

14

Vroosterat Amethozene 02.03.04 at 6:37 pm

Punking NRO, eh? The only ones I see being embarassed are the sad sacks who think this is a whale of an idea (“This’ll be better than even an all night session of Pokemon, man!”). Sure you’re welcome to try… I’d rather you be wasting your time on that rather than out convincing some poor slob that John Kerry is going to somehow improve his life through criticising military action and the Patriot Act despite the fact he voted for both, or trying to spin Howard Dean economic plans for Americans (Higher taxes! YEEEAAAGGRRHHH!!!) or telling everyone that John Edwards will get them the money they deserve! Maybe you guys are Clark fans (He’s loopier than even Dean!) or Kucinich (We must change the world through diplomacy and good mental vibrations via the ether), or maybe Sharpton (the only way to fight the man is to make ME the man).
I’m sure the folks at NRO though will appreciate the laughs. Go get ‘em…and stay off the streets and out of the polling places.

Cheers,
Vrooster

15

HS Thompson 02.03.04 at 6:37 pm

…I mean, did you think all that Clark and Dean hype was for real?

16

HS Thompson 02.03.04 at 6:37 pm

…I mean, did you think all that Clark and Dean hype was for real?

17

HS Thompson 02.03.04 at 6:37 pm

…I mean, did you think all that Clark and Dean hype was for real?

18

Erin Olsen 02.03.04 at 6:38 pm

Do you have anything interesting to write about on this blog? Or is “punking” the National Review the best you’ve got? Maybe you should stick to watching MTV…the National Review is oviously over your heads.

19

HS Thompson 02.03.04 at 6:38 pm

…I mean, did you think all that Clark and Dean hype was for real?

20

Hank 02.03.04 at 6:38 pm

Here’s a better idea….why don’t you guys swamp NR with positive, truthful emails about the candidates? Maybe Joe Lieberman let you use his cellphone. Maybe Howard Dean gave you some of McDonald’s french fries.

That’s fine that you want to stem the tide of negativity for the folks you support, but why attempt to discredit folks who may be telling the truth? What kind of purpose does that serve…especially when you’re offering a prize for doing it?

21

Erin Olsen 02.03.04 at 6:39 pm

Do you have anything interesting to write about on this blog? Or is “punking” the National Review the best you’ve got? Maybe you should stick to watching MTV…the National Review is obviously over your heads.

22

Cleis 02.03.04 at 6:39 pm

My first thought upon reading “Jonah Goldberg’s onto the plan!” is: Goldberg’s too clueless to know what Crooked Timber is? If he had any clue about the collective brain power here, he wouldn’t be so smug.

23

praktike 02.03.04 at 6:39 pm

ahahahahahahaha

24

YCF 02.03.04 at 6:41 pm

Once again this shows how “intelligent” and “mature” liberals really are. Or aren’t. Long live conservatism!

25

The Smarter Anonymous 02.03.04 at 6:43 pm

As has been pointed out earlier, the “don’t you know who I am” urban legend has been used to smear people (especially liberals) for decades now:

http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/outrage/fonda.asp (or click my name)

Make sure that you note this, Ted!

26

WINNER!!!! 02.03.04 at 6:44 pm

OK, my fake story about John Kerry got posted, where’s my gift certificate? I copied it to you, Ted, just like you asked. Check the email.

27

Ted Barlow 02.03.04 at 7:00 pm

Hank,

You ask, “Why don’t you guys swamp NR with positive, truthful emails about the candidates?”

That’s a nice instinct, and I think that a lot of people send emails promoting their favorite candidates to members of the media. But relatively few try to get dedicated conservative outlets to print favorable emails about Democrats. The odds of the National Review printing a positive email about a Democratic candidate are vanishingly small. It’s just not what they do.

I wouldn’t scold them for consistently making conservative arguments or promoting conservative candidates; there’s nothing wrong with that at all. On the other hand, there is something wrong with passing on stories that couldn’t possibly be verified, and I hope that they stop.

If the American Prospect started printing stories about Bush’s bad behavior with no evidence other than an anonymous email, that would be wrong, wouldn’t it?

28

Frank J. 02.03.04 at 7:00 pm

They’re getting too wise at the Corner. I wrote Jonah some juicy hate mail and he didn’t even respond. Must have known it was hate mail before reading it, because, if he did read it, it would have destroyed his self esteem.

BTW, John Kerry ran over my dog and didn’t even apologize.

29

F.U. Guys 02.03.04 at 7:00 pm

Self-congratulatory attitude : check
Smug sense of own superiority : Check
Appaling sense of moral equivalence : check

Yep, I’ve found a liberal blog all right.

30

MD 02.03.04 at 7:01 pm

The only ones I see being embarassed are the sad sacks who think this is a whale of an idea (“This’ll be better than even an all night session of Pokemon, man!”).

Ladies and gentlemen, now you know the end result of four years of bringing dignity back to the White House.

By the way, sir, the Pokemon craze reached its peak and started its downhill slide back in 1999. For your next troll, might I suggest one of the following references, all guaranteed to be equally fresh and just as relevant:

1. Ted Barlow’s Hypercolor shirt is yellow and pink, the officially recognized colors of liberalism.

2. Ted “Liberal Spice” Barlow got kicked out of the world’s most popular band for being too liberal. Also, I’m implying he is a girl.

3. As sure as Boo.com stock is at $400 a share and will stay there forever and ever, Ted Barlow will always be wrong … and liberal!

31

Drew Raines 02.03.04 at 7:04 pm

Ted Barlow wrote:

Seriously, the National Review shouldn’t be publishing stories if they have absolutely no way of knowing that they are true.

The National Review is not a media source; it’s an op/ed site. Furthermore, The Corner, the portion of the site on which the letters were posted, is a blog. If neither is the appropriate forum for pandering unadulterated opinion, what is?

32

James 02.03.04 at 7:04 pm

How can NR get away with that? John Kerry not a nice guy? That’s simply not possible. He is a Democrat afterall! He simply MUST be wonderful right? It’s only Republicans afterall who kick puppies, beat old people or drown women in their cars. Whoops…went too far on that one.

33

Andrew Edwards 02.03.04 at 7:11 pm

Oh, what fun. A flame war.

Self-congratulatory attitude : check
Smug sense of own superiority : Check
Appaling sense of moral equivalence : check

Yep, I’ve found a liberal blog all right.

The irony of this post attacking smugness and self-congratulation is just dizzying.

Look, NRO people: find me an example of this blog, the one you’re currently reading, publishing an anonymous letter that questions the personal integrity of a major conservative political figure.

For that matter, find such a thing here, or on Atrios, or Kos, or CalPundit. Then, and only then, may you argue that NRO can print nonfalsifiable personal attacks “because it’s a blog”.

34

harry 02.03.04 at 7:11 pm

Are the NR’s defender’s (and Ted’s detractors) actually saying that it is ok for the NR to pass on completely unverified stories because they are doing it on a blog? You don’t hold conservative publications to higher standards than that? If there were a liberal mag I liked (there isn’t, unfortunately) and it engaged in the same practice I’d cancel my subscription and be completely embarrassed. I wouldn’t defend it, even in posts on someone else’s blog. Not suggesting that liberals or leftists have higher standards than conservatives: I presume, in fact, that plenty of conservatives will be giving the NR as hard a time as Ted is, if a bit more discreetly.

35

njp 02.03.04 at 7:13 pm

Cleis wrote:

My first thought upon reading “Jonah Goldberg’s onto the plan!” is: Goldberg’s too clueless to know what Crooked Timber is? If he had any clue about the collective brain power here, he wouldn’t be so smug.

In other words, you meant to say, “This is Crooked Timber;DOESN’T JONAH KNOW WHO WE ARE!”

I’m amazed that the “collective brain power” here doesn’t understand the difference between the magazine with its articles and the Letters to/from the Editors “blog.”

I would think the bloggers should know the difference between “posts” and “comments.”

36

Rob 02.03.04 at 7:13 pm

Wow!! Loook at all the people come here to defend the right of the National Review to lie to them! Apparently Conservatism and Journalism don’t go together. No wonder the idea of the liberal media persists. If ABC won’t post unverified annonymous ramblings about how rude John Kerry is they must be part of the liberal machine!

37

Katherine 02.03.04 at 7:13 pm

I just wanted to make sure everyone saw this, posted on the Poorman:

Dear Poor Man Forums,

In the middle of last year’s National Review Thanksgiving picnic flag football game, Jay Nordlinger and William F. Buckley did a very suggestive dance, at the end of which Mr. Buckley’s right breast was bared, but for a tiny pastie in the shape of Ronald Reagan’s face. Because of this, me and all my friends want to grow up to be terrorists.

Yours,
Sally Creamcheese, age 8

Also, Iris Schumer eats yeast on Pesach.* My in-laws live down the block from her, so I know.

*stolen from the Daily Show.

And John Kerry is obsessed with Junior Mints. That one’s actually true, or at least it comes from someone who interned for his office.

38

Ferris Fowler 02.03.04 at 7:13 pm

the National Review is oviously [sic] over your heads.

Actually, the National Review is under my bird. But, of course, I don’t like my bird.

39

winston 02.03.04 at 7:16 pm

I was sure that National Review didn’t pass the emails off as true, but circumstantial evidence that may indicate a pattern.

Now, the interesting thing will be to see if Jonah’s acknowledgment of the prank will overrun the bandwidth of this site and cost the owner additional charges. I wonder if that was his intent?

Finally, I did think “all that Clark and Dean hype was for real.”

40

Ted Barlow 02.03.04 at 7:17 pm

Drew,

If the Kerry story had been presented as an opinion (“Kerry seems like the kind of a guy who would cut to the front of a line”) I’d have no ground to stand on. But it was presented as a fact, not as unadulterated opinion.

James, I would never say that the Kerry story is false- I have no idea. But the crew at NRO have no possible way to assert that it’s true, either. If it had been somebody’s hobby blog, que sera sera. But from professional journalists, it’s pretty out of place.

f.u. guys- “appalling sense of moral equivalence”? What do you mean?

41

Patrick Taylor 02.03.04 at 7:18 pm

Hmmm Ted, I think you’ve hit a nerve … the chihuahuas of heck have been loosed on Crooked Timber!

42

whoops 02.03.04 at 7:19 pm

Once again this shows how “intelligent” and “mature” liberals really are. Or aren’t. Long live conservatism!
Posted by YCF · February 3, 2004 06:41 PM

Apparently American universities think liberals are better prepared for post-secondary education. And the graduation statistics proved those assumptions.

Number of Top Advanced Placement Scores (3+ out of 5) per 1000 students, year 2000:

Summary: The Democratic states lead with 7 of the top 10 showings. The strongest performer is a Democratic state — New York. The Republican states account for 9 out of the 10 worst states in this metric.

Percentage of students returning at 4-year colleges, year 2000:

Summary: Nine of the top ten states in this ranking are Democratic. The top state, Connecticut, is Democratic. Going further to the top 25 states, 19 are Democratic. Of the worst 23 states in this ranking (see Notes), twenty-two are Republican. Idaho, who voted Republican in 2000, came last.

Percentage of Bachelor’s degree completion (in 5 years), year 2000:

Summary: Eight of the top 10 performing states voted Democratic in 2000. The top performer, Vermont, is Democratic. 18 of the top 25 ranked states are Democratic. Louisiana, a Republican state, takes the last place amond the bottom ten states, nine of which are Republican.

Percentage of adults with Bachelor’s degree or better, year 2000:

Summary: The results of this ranking are more balanced. Of the top 10 states, only six are Democratic. Fully ten out of the worst ten states in the nation in this respect are Republican. The highest ranked, Maryland, voted Democratic.

43

Robert Lyman 02.03.04 at 7:20 pm

Ted,

I’m sympathetic to the general idea here. Posting these sorts of emails certainly are a great way to smear the candidates with no accountability and no need that the smear have even a grain of truth.

But I’m at a loss to see how this is much different from pretty much all blogging, and much mainstream opinion journalism.

A little while ago, I posted here at CT about my personal experience working a factory job and living on near-minimum wage. How do you know that was true? And if anonymity is an issue, how do you know I’m not using a psudeonym? The only blogger I’ve ever met face-to-face is Armed Liberal, and he never asked for ID.

A couple of years ago Nick Kristof published a story about visiting a gun show. The gun discussion boards lit up with a lengthy debate of his account. Summary: we (that is, internet-savvy gun nuts) think he was either lying or just so amazingly ignorant that he was taken in by a gun dealer who knew who he was and wanted to mock him.

Did the NYT fact-check his account? Did they address any of the doubtless many letters pointing out the failure of his story to square with the writers’ experiences? Not that I saw. Yet there it was, on the (allegedly) most prestigous opinion page in the country, and hundreds and hundreds of others.

And, if you happend to want another example of false information being published in mainstream sources, I have only two words: “imminent threat.” That one’s never going away–and it continues to appear not just in polemics, but occasionally in “straight” news stories.

Want another? “I invented the Internet.”

I could go on.

Now, it may be that all of the stories NRO has publised are crap. I don’t know; I don’t much care, given that there is no actual chance that I will vote for any Democrat currently in the race. But for that matter, I don’t know if most of what I read on blogs, or indeed, much of what I read in the pages produced by “professionals,” or see on TV, or whatever, is actually real, or reflects reporters interviewing each other, a phenomenon which you reported on (Second hand! From an anonymous source!) earlier on CT.

44

Laertes 02.03.04 at 7:21 pm

Absolutely brilliant, sir. I salute you.

It’s just perfect. If they’re going to print unsubstantiated garbage, you can poison the supply by flooding them with booby-trapped unsubstantiated garbage. If they bothered to do proper fact checking it wouldn’t work, of course, but they don’t so it will.

Since the risk that you’ll bust them is unacceptably high, just about all they can do is whine briefly, stop printing junk, and send a short bus full of their typical readers over here to show what they’re about.

It’s all good.

45

JC 02.03.04 at 7:22 pm

Dear Anonymous,
Your ethical dilemma revolves around the supposition that only truth should be fit to print. You forget that much of what is published is fiction, intentional or not. The National Review is attempting to publish innuendo because they are lazy and do not want to actually work at journalism. We are simply attempting to draw attention to their lassitude by writing intentionally incorrect stories as a form of protest. Therefore it is not lying per say but an attempt to draw attention to the pathetic attempt to smear the left by the NR.
Live in Peace,
Jesus

46

trish 02.03.04 at 7:25 pm

I wouldn’t post an email on my website that I couldn’t verify, and my website is strictly for family and friends – so I definately would hold a political “blog” to the same standard.

And as for the NR supporters who’ve commented here, doesn’t the publishing of unsupported comments dilute the impact of other posts that are verifiably true? Doesn’t that bother you?

47

Brian 02.03.04 at 7:30 pm

Are the NR’s defender’s (and Ted’s detractors) actually saying that it is ok for the NR to pass on completely unverified stories because they are doing it on a blog?
——————————–

Who made this blog the arbiter of what’s a truthful story and what’s not? Who made you guys the ombudsman? I know it’s a far-fetched concept to the lefties here, but people can decide for themselves what they want to believe and what they take with a grain of salt.

Maybe you guys are just so used to believing everything that comes out of Mike Moore’s mouth (because we all know he’s not prone to embellishment) that it’s a foreign concept. If that’s the case, we can’t help you. But we don’t care if you want to put “Bowling for Columbine” on a loop in your apartment…hey, he’s speaking your language, preaching to the choir! Let kids have their fun!

And finally, pick your battles, folks! Are all these Kerry stories getting out and causing tidal waves of dropped jaws and shrieks of terror? Is the Washington Post bumping the big story to talk about “Beignet-gate”? But if you want to waste your energy on informal banter in a blog-style format, go for it.

48

Vroosterat Amethozene 02.03.04 at 7:36 pm

MD lad (lassie…couldn’t tell from the signature).

The reference to Pokemon was in fact intended to infer lame out of dateness. What I should assume that people pulling the equivalent of an old radio DJ stunt are hip and with it?

Oh yeah, they probably are all a buzz about the Janet Jackson malfunctioning wardrobe brouhaha, but everyone and their grandmother saw that. Do they listen to Radiohead? Do they snack on Li Hing Mui? Do they channel surf IFC and Sundance and trip on Kim Possible?

As for dignity, I laugh. Bush spends and bipartisans with TeddyK and TK dreams up conspiracies while Dean lets out a rebel yell and Sharpton is fawned over. Kerry maintains the apperance of dignity simply through the process of inertia.

Let the punking continue…

49

Brian 02.03.04 at 7:40 pm

One more thing – Journalists routinely use anonymous sources in many aspects of their reporting. And many journalists will throw themselves on a grenade before revealing their sources. Many states have “shield laws” which protect the right (in varying amounts and subject to varying standards) of a journalist to keep the identities of anonymous sources, even in a court of law.

So before you get all bent out of shape about anonymous sources and praticing “real journalism”, consider that.

50

Arizona... uh, person 02.03.04 at 7:41 pm

The words of Robert Lyman (pseudonym or not) are the most intelligent on this thread yet. But I think you’re all missing an important point about The Corner (NR’s blog):

Yes, it’s a political blog. But it isn’t a place readers go for hard news — people read The Corner for opinion and humor in quick doses. The purpose of the blog is to have a running dialogue regarding the news, not to report news itself. So when allegations of John Kerry’s rudeness came up in the news, readers sent stories about it (false or not) to NR’s writers and editors.

None of these stories were presented as hard news. Since when was saying, “Gee, I’m getting a lot of emails about how John Kerry is rude to people” a violation of journalistic code? This is a running blog on an opinion magazine, not hard journalism.

Besides, considering the main audience of The Corner, and even if these unsubstantiated stories about John Kerry were, in fact, total lies, do you really think it would result in a huge anti-Kerry firestorm, robbing him of the Democratic nomination? If the writers at NR were actually trying to spread lies and sabotage a campaign, don’t you think they’d find a better medium than an opinion-based blog read almost exclusively by conservatives?

In short, you’re all taking a light, amusing, harmless blog way too seriously.

51

dewyn 02.03.04 at 7:41 pm

Two points: first, the folks chastising NRO are jumping from the fact that a) they cannot verify certain stories to b) the stories are unverifiable and c) probably false. In other words, the complaint is, “Hey, don’t say mean things about our guys unless you can cite chapter and verse about it.” For a printed publication, especially a daily one, that’s a sound standard (although we all seem comfortable with the devastating “sources say”.) For a free-form blog, it smacks of whining.

Second, the call to muddy the waters is a bit cheap, wouldn’t you say? If accuracy is so important to you, I suppose you could always request contact info from NRO posters and see if their informants are willing to submit to cross-examination. (I bet quite a few in the field would take your challenge.) If you want to make the charge that NRO is posting false negative stories about Democrats, you could always try to catch them in the act. That would be worth doing. But of course it’s much easier to flood them with lies so the stories aren’t as effective instead of trying to get at the truth.

Frankly, I don’t think you’re worried that the stories might be false and influence people wrongly. I think you’re afraid they’re probably true, and then how will you get that delicious satisfaction from outrage?

52

Peter A. 02.03.04 at 7:45 pm

Actually, The Corner at NRO frequently posts corrections and apologies to earlier misstatements. It may just be a front, but they seem to be pretty conscientious about admitting their mistakes and crediting the readers who identified those mistakes.

I’ve also seen the occasional positive statement about a Democratic candidate. Typically, such statements are made as an explicit contradiction of an anti-Dem statement made earlier.

So the chance of them posting positive statements about Dems is somewhat less than “vanishingly small”–even if it is somewhat less likely than them posting negative statements about President Bush.

I’d cite examples, but really, you should be reading the Corner for yourself, if you’re going to rant about what is and isn’t going on there.

Also, after you die, we’re going to gibbet your corpse.

Nah. Just kidding!

Made you look, though.

53

Andrew Edwards 02.03.04 at 7:46 pm

*sprays can of Troll-Be-Gone towards ‘brian’*

Troll-Be-Gone works like a charm for all your internet message board needs.

Someone likening all their opponents to the radical fringe? Just a quick spray, and they’ll just go back to arguing with the liberals in their sock drawers.

Someone accusing everyone to the right of Stalin of being a Nazi? Just spray, and they’re re-learning high school history.

Ah! Smell that intelligent-discoursy freshness. Now with more Sensible Moderate!

Brought to you by Crooked Timber, Kevin Drum, Tacitus, and the Volokh Conspiracy.

54

Thomas 02.03.04 at 7:51 pm

While you’re fixing modern journalism, can you do something about my morning newspaper? It publishes all sorts of inaccuracies in its “letters to the editors” section, most often from Dean supporters and other deranged anti-Bush activists. (Not just differences of opinion, but bald misstatements of fact.)

55

Another Bruce 02.03.04 at 7:54 pm

Once again this shows how “intelligent” and “mature” liberals really are. Or aren’t. Long live conservatism!

Pot, Kettle, Black.

56

dalai 02.03.04 at 7:57 pm

Whoops,

Summary: The Democratic states lead with 7 of the top 10 showings. The strongest performer is a Democratic state — New York. The Republican states account for 9 out of the 10 worst states in this metric.

Although your statistics are suggestive, they actually don’t show anything about the level of education of democrats vs. republicans. Implying that because the states which vote democrat also have the most well-educated populations says nothing about how the individuals within those states vote. Just going on your stats, New York might have the most well-educated population, but it is possible that all its intellectuals vote republican while its less-educated masses vote democrat.

There are studies which show that education and liberal attitudes are positively correlated, but I think what you’ve got there is a fallacy of division – arguing that because the wholes (states) have certain characteristics, then the parts (voters) must have the same characteristics.

All that being said, your conclusion is probably right.

57

harry 02.03.04 at 7:59 pm

*Who made this blog the arbiter of what’s a truthful story and what’s not? Who made you guys the ombudsman? I know it’s a far-fetched concept to the lefties here, but people can decide for themselves what they want to believe and what they take with a grain of salt.*

No-one is disputing the *right* of the NR to make a complete fool of itself. Of course, there’s loads of crappy journalism, and lots of bad practice, and the NR has every right to participate in that. I wasn’t criticising NR in that passage — I was criticising the people who are defending the NR. You think there’s something good about this practice? Surely not. If so argue for it.

For what its worth, I’m totally willing to believe bad things about any candidate, Democrat or Republican. For a decent human being to reach that stage of politics in America is so rare as not to be worth looking for. For me watching this primary is like watching a train-wreck in slow motion; if Kerry gets knocked off his perch I’d be happy as could be. I’m defending Ted’s attempt to undermine bad journalistic practice.

58

Alex 02.03.04 at 8:00 pm

I dunno, this Mr Crooked Timber man sounds kinda like a lumberjack. I think Mr Timber isn’t to be trusted, because you know, he likes to wear women’s clothing.

59

JRoth 02.03.04 at 8:08 pm

lyman-

First off, Kristof: the whole point here is that these posts are anonymous – there is no way whatsoever to judge their veracity. Whereas, in your anecdote about Nicholas Kristof, I can’t help but notice that you’ve identified him, apparently as “Nicholas Kristof.” I wonder whether it’s possible to research this “Kristof” person to help gauge the likelihood of his veracity?

[Shorter fourth lyman paragraph: “He said something we didn’t agree with, so my friends & I agreed he was lying.”]

Also:

“Absolutely.”

- White House spokesman Ari Fleischer answering whether Iraq was an “imminent threat,” 5/7/03

Glad you & your buddies have debunked that one too! “See, Ari didn’t say ‘imminent threat.’ The reporter did.”

Finally, when people cite personal experience to back up an argument in a a blog comment, it’s treated as an illustration, not a proof. And when someone *cough*McArdle*cough* continually offers suspiciously self-serving “personal experiences,” that person’s experiences are discounted further. As we’ve all seen in the cases of certain once well-regarded bloggers.

All of which is different from simple smear campaigns on the level of “For a good time, call….” Yes, it’s a continuum, blah blah, but the bottom line is that there’s a common sense distinction between presenting fact-free smears as evidence of bad character and anecdotal give-and-take.

60

JRoth 02.03.04 at 8:08 pm

lyman-

First off, Kristof: the whole point here is that these posts are anonymous – there is no way whatsoever to judge their veracity. Whereas, in your anecdote about Nicholas Kristof, I can’t help but notice that you’ve identified him, apparently as “Nicholas Kristof.” I wonder whether it’s possible to research this “Kristof” person to help gauge the likelihood of his veracity?

[Shorter fourth lyman paragraph: “He said something we didn’t agree with, so my friends & I agreed he was lying.”]

Also:

“Absolutely.”

- White House spokesman Ari Fleischer answering whether Iraq was an “imminent threat,” 5/7/03

Glad you & your buddies have debunked that one too! “See, Ari didn’t say ‘imminent threat.’ The reporter did.”

Finally, when people cite personal experience to back up an argument in a a blog comment, it’s treated as an illustration, not a proof. And when someone *cough*McArdle*cough* continually offers suspiciously self-serving “personal experiences,” that person’s experiences are discounted further. As we’ve all seen in the cases of certain once well-regarded bloggers.

All of which is different from simple smear campaigns on the level of “For a good time, call….” Yes, it’s a continuum, blah blah, but the bottom line is that there’s a common sense distinction between presenting fact-free smears as evidence of bad character and anecdotal give-and-take.

61

PG 02.03.04 at 8:11 pm

Actually, The Corner at NRO frequently posts corrections and apologies to earlier misstatements. It may just be a front, but they seem to be pretty conscientious about admitting their mistakes and crediting the readers who identified those mistakes.

I can’t believe how phenomenally people are missing Ted’s point. How in the name of sweet Jesus is National Review going to print a correction to an anonymously-published, uncorroborated story? Is Goldberg hoping to have the candidates dedicate their spare time to refuting these tales? Does he think John Kerry is going to write in saying that he’s never told a restaurant to give him someone else’s food?

This. Is. Bad. Journalism. As Ted pointed out, this is the standard that Penthouse uses. If NRO wants to put itself on the same level of credibility as Penthouse by publishing these evidence-less, name-less allegations, fine, but it’s embarrassing to see purported intelligent conservatives try to defend the practice.

62

whoops 02.03.04 at 8:13 pm

dalai,

You’re right about the fact that even a state average comes from numbers with a broad range.

However, given that an increasing percentage of adults in Democratic states are well-educated and that the education, health*, and wealth** gap between Blue and Red states is widening, is it not fair to say that Blue societies lead to a better environment — and consequently, better education as well?

*: I don’t have the national health coverage stats in front of me, but I saw this the other day:

Percentage of uninsured children under 19 at or below 200% of poverty, years 2000-2002 (average):

Summary: The Republican state of Texas, in the aftermath of Mr Bush’s governorship, had the nation’s highest percentage of uninsured, extremely poor children at 15.88% between the years 2000 and 2002 — 4.44 percentage points apart from the second worst state, Arizona. Arizona is one of thirteen Republican states among the nation’s fifteen most afflicted states in this respect.

Democratic Vermont holds the nation’s best record in this ranking at 2.16%. Of the fifteen states with the lowest percentage of such unfortunate children, eleven are Democratic.

**: Median income, years 2000, 2001, 2002 (average):

Summary: Democratic Maryland boasts the 50 states’ largest median income. Seven of the ten top earning states are Democratic. Aside from Maine and New Mexico, Democratic states are within the 29 states earning the most in the country. Nine of the ten states where one earned, on average, the least are Republican. This group includes the nation’s lowest average earner, West Virginia.

63

brian 02.03.04 at 8:14 pm

I was criticising the people who are defending the NR. You think there’s something good about this practice? Surely not. If so argue for it.
——————————–
I am arguing in defense of the people defending NR. Look at the statement you bolded. I clearly said people will decide for themselves who they believe and who they don’t. We know the Left likes to help out henever they can…thanks, but no thanks. Likewise, folks will defend who they choose to defend and attack who they choose to attack. Sometimes for good reasons, other times for silly reasons.

Yes, I absolutely think there’s something good about defending NR. I can understand why you probably don’t…it’s a publication diametrically opposed to your ideals and beliefs. That’s fine. Individuality is the essence of conservatism, so as a conservative I don’t expect anyone or any publication to please 100% of the public. I don’t care if you like it or not, nor do I expect you to like it at all.

But we don’t need self-appointed commissioners of journalistic decency, especially those with political motivations, thank you very much. I’m sure Ted’s a great guy, as are you, but it’s clear we’re not going to see eye to eye on certain things. It’s hard enough deciding what to believe and what not to believe out there…just gumming up the works isn’t going to make that task any more enjoyable.

64

ahem 02.03.04 at 8:14 pm

Gosh, it’s quite revelatory to see what a link from the Moroner brings in. This must be like living near a sewage outlet.

65

jcl 02.03.04 at 8:15 pm

Look, NRO do not present the emails they post as fact; the present them as emails from a reader. This assumes that the reader has the mental capacity to evaluate the sources of information and make up their own mind veracity of that information. NRO would only be in the wrong if they wrote a story about John Kerry under one of the contributors names that claimed as a factual matter that John Kerry did whatever, with the only source being the emails. There is nothing wrong IN ANY WAY with posting and email and saying, “Here’s an email, take it for what its worth.” This is why Jonah Goldberg wrote, “Corner readers [given the posts above, I think he was right to limit this to a particular subset of readers] — understand that some emails should certainly be taken with a grain of salt on the off-chance a correspondent is embellishing”

66

Matt 02.03.04 at 8:16 pm

I think this is a clever idea, and probably a future discussion question in some Ethics of Journalism class. But let me take this in a slightly different direction.

The thing about, say, the Kerry story is that it seems like it’d be the sort of dumb thing spiteful people make up, but–as the NRO faithful have pointed out–we can’t be sure, because it could be true. So–let’s review. Kerry allegedly cut line at a B&N and got sassed by a clerk. So there must have been at least a dozen witnesses to this specific event, including the friend of the guy who wrote in.

Let’s have a secondary contest–can anyone verify this story? And will those who think they can all claim they saw Kerry at the same B&N, on the same day? I’ll split $100 worth of Amazon gift certificates among each and every witness who comes forward with a credible account that is corroborated by a plurality of other accounts…AND I’ll devote a day of my liberal blog to how the NRO was right, and Kerry is a jerk.

Any takers? I realize it’s a slim chance that a witness is reading this post, but come on, conservatives–put this on your blogs and see what you can come up with.

67

Brian 02.03.04 at 8:18 pm

Summary: Democratic Maryland boasts the 50 states’ largest median income. Seven of the ten top earning states are Democratic. Aside from Maine and New Mexico, Democratic states are within the 29 states earning the most in the country.
——————————–

So it’s really the Democratics that are upper class moneyed bigwigs??????

68

jcl 02.03.04 at 8:18 pm

Look, NRO do not present the emails they post as fact; the present them as emails from a reader. This assumes that the reader has the mental capacity to evaluate the sources of information and make up their own mind on the veracity of that information. NRO would only be in the wrong if they wrote a story about John Kerry under one of the contributors names that claimed as a factual matter that John Kerry did whatever, with the only source being the emails. There is nothing wrong IN ANY WAY with posting and email and saying, “Here’s an email, take it for what its worth.” This is why Jonah Goldberg wrote, “Corner readers [given the posts above, I think he was right to limit this to a particular subset of readers] — understand that some emails should certainly be taken with a grain of salt on the off-chance a correspondent is embellishing”

69

ahem 02.03.04 at 8:27 pm

This assumes that the reader has the mental capacity to evaluate the sources of information and make up their own mind on the veracity of that information.

You forget: this is the Corner you’re talking about. Making it a rather fanciful assumption.

70

hmm 02.03.04 at 8:28 pm

brian: a median point can’t tell you anything about the number of outliers

71

Sigivald 02.03.04 at 8:29 pm

Frankly0: You accuse NRO of printing fabricated stories, yes? (In fact, it seems like you’re saying every letter that says anything bad about Kerry is ipso facto fabricated, as if he was incapable of ever being rude or haughty… which is uncommon in politicians of any stripe.)

Got evidence for that? (What this evidence would consist in or how you could know that the stories of Senatorial naughtiness are false, without being John Kerry or possessing the power of telepathy is, I confess, beyond me.)

Or are you simply asserting it in a nearly anonymous way online… just like the stories you’re decrying?

I completely understand Mr. Barlow’s desire to make a point about anonymous revelations (though I also believe Jonah Goldberg’s claim that they’re not anonymous when he receives them), but I don’t see what the point is.

Are all un-(publicly)-sourced emails unacceptable? Certainly NR’s posted a number of those critical of President Bush, but I don’t notice those being mentioned. Or is it only stories that are about the behaviour of politicians?

Or just ones that talk about Democratic candidates in a way that isn’t flattering?

How is this any different from a newspaper’s “letters to the editor”, other than that the newspaper won’t print a letter with no name (but will not, of course, generally check to see if the name given is genuine, which makes no difference in practical terms)?

I’d have a lot more sympathy if NRO was publishing these reports as if they were fact-checked or anything but reader-sent reports, but they aren’t.

I suggest “punking” your local newspaper, too, then, for the same reasons.

(Reading the Oregonian, I’d suspect that people already are, except that I know people genuinely believe things I consider sand-poundingly stupid. And yes, such people are often in other respects quite intelligent, but that doesn’t really enter into it.)

72

dalai 02.03.04 at 8:30 pm

whoops,

I certainly wouldn’t dispute the claim that Democrat-run states are likely to be better off, happier, healthier places than the alternative. And I, like you, am inclined to believe that it is partly because of the differences between the two parties.

On the other hand, to be a stickler for logic, there is a possibility of reverse causality. Thus, when you say “is it not fair to say that Blue societies lead to a better environment — and consequently, better education as well?“, one might reasonably object that it goes the other way. A better ‘environment’ (I think you were using this to mean social environment, right?) might cause people to vote democratic, even if the cause of the better environment is something totally unrelated like, say, the weather.

Did the level of uninsured/children in poverty go up during Bush’s tenure as Governor of Texas? Can we show the connection as opposed to just the correlation?

Just playing devil’s advocate.

73

Big Bob 02.03.04 at 8:30 pm

If you were to actually read “The Corner” you would see that they are quite fair-minded. Certainly, they approach issues from a conservative mindset, but they also give credit where it is due.

Rich Lowry’s reports from the democratic primaries provided honest appraisals of the candidates filled with both praise and criticism. I learned from there before any other outlet about Kerry’s gradual comeback.

Bush is criticized openly and freely there. There is a real sense that they are evaluating each issue and issue-maker on their merits, not spouting the party line.

Many blogs that I read are so colored with “Hate-Bush” ideological hatred to the point that I can’t take what they say seriously. Not everything he or anyone else does is completely evil. Evaluate the issue, don’t just spout: “If Bush is for it, I’m against it” or vice-versa.

By the way, they’re not journalists- they’re commentators.

74

whoops 02.03.04 at 8:31 pm

I don’t understand why voters in Red states, after looking at a Red vs. Blue map of the country along with quality of life statistics, don’t understand that they’ve been making the wrong choices for themselves and their children.

75

jcl 02.03.04 at 8:32 pm

You forget: this is the Corner you’re talking about. Making it a rather fanciful assumption.

As far as I can tell, it is the readers of this blog who seem to believe that the publishing of reader emails as such on an op/ed magazine’s blog constitute either “journalism” or “reporting fact.” All the emails posted said, or were inteded to say, are that one guy (the author of the email) thinks John Kerry is an asshole. The rest of us can decide for ourselves; nothing NRO did prevents or hinders that decisionmaking process.

76

Brian 02.03.04 at 8:39 pm

I don’t understand why voters in Red states, after looking at a Red vs. Blue map of the country along with quality of life statistics, don’t understand that they’ve been making the wrong choices for themselves and their children.
———————————

Oh man, now you’re just trying to push my buttons, right????

Sorry, this is me going into kneejerk-lefty reaction mode. Nothing pisses me off more than when someone suggests he/she somehow knows what’s “better” for a group of people they absolutely know nothing about except for their perceived political affiliation (by basing it on a general measure; whether they live in a “blue” state or a “red” state). That is the height of ivory tower elitism.

77

Ken C. 02.03.04 at 8:42 pm

“And, if you happend to want another example of false information being published in mainstream sources, I have only two words: “imminent threat.” That one’s never going away—and it continues to appear not just in polemics, but occasionally in “straight” news stories.”

Indeed, how many times did we see the absurd claim that Iraq was an imminent threat? Why, Dick Cheney repeats it to this day! Megadittos!

“Want another? “I invented the Internet.””

Another great point! It’s astonishing the number of times the idiotic canard that Al Gore claimed to have invented the internet has been repeated.

78

md 02.03.04 at 8:42 pm

The reference to Pokemon was in fact intended to infer lame out of dateness.

The word you’re looking for is “demonstrate”, not “infer.”

Do they listen to Radiohead? Do they snack on Li Hing Mui? Do they channel surf IFC and Sundance and trip on Kim Possible?

If the answer is “yes” will you go away? Do you promise it? I know it will be quite a task finding a liberal who is into independent movies and alternative music (God knows if there’s anywhere you can’t find an arthouse cinema or a small record store that specializes in vinyl it’s a left-wing college town), but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

79

Robert Lyman 02.03.04 at 8:42 pm

[Shorter fourth lyman paragraph: “He said something we didn’t agree with, so my friends & I agreed he was lying.”]

Um, no. See, it isn’t possible to “lie” when stating an opinion, unless you are lying about the fact that you hold that opinion. And it isn’t possible to “disagree” with a statement of fact, although it is possible to think that the statement is false.

Kristof described a particular gun, described the ballistics as they were described to him by a dealer, and quoted a price. Those of us who know guns and know what they sell for 1) deduced what gun he was talking about and 2) deduced that the price was dramatically too low for a functional gun of that type, and 3) deduced that the (anonymous!) gun dealers’s claims about its penetrating power (accepted and reported by Kristof as fact without any attempt to confirm) were wildly false.

Kristof also went on to blather about “manuals for making VX nerve gas,” without actually buying one and asking a chemist if it would actually work. (Although I could be conflating two different columns here; memory is a bit foggy.)

My friends and I concluded, based on the apparently impossible facts, that either 1) Kristof was making the whole thing up, or 2) he was “embellishing” in the service of his politics or 3) he had simply muddled the facts beyond recognition due to ignorance and the willingness of the gun dealer to take advantage of his ignorance.

If you assume for a moment that I’m right about Kristof (and perhaps I’m not, as I was’t with him that day), I can’t understand why signing his name to a column makes lying or gross ignorance somehow respectable or acceptable. Sure, I can discount all his future columns (something I haven’t done), but for that matter, it’s just as easy for me to discount all anonymous NRO letters.

My overall point is that while I think what NRO is doing is less than respectable and of minimal social value, and thus perhaps deserves criticism, it is not dramatically different than what happens pretty much every day in the world of “respectable” opinion journalism. And, as I pointed out, Ted has engaged in a similar practice right here at CT.

I do think that a few silly blog posts are less serious than a more or less identical practice in the paper-and-ink press, and I do think there’s a difference between The Corner–a notoriously frivolous place–and the glossy magazine that NR puts out. Now, maybe NRO has a greater responsibility than, for instance, Ted here at CT, but that case hasn’t been made particularly well, and it would require Ted to declare “I get to be casual with fact checking because nobody should take me seriously anyway.”

80

brian 02.03.04 at 8:49 pm

Do they listen to Radiohead? Do they snack on Li Hing Mui? Do they channel surf IFC and Sundance and trip on Kim Possible?
———————————

For this urban-dwelling, 25 year-old conservative it’s My Bloody Valentine/Ride/Spiritualized while snacking on tapas and surfing Discovery, ESPN, and CNBC. Of course, that’s not when I’m browsing the used book stores or catching a show at Visions in DC, trying to figure out color Fender Jazzmaster I want to buy,deciding if I really want that second tattoo, or heading out for a few pints.

81

anonymous 02.03.04 at 8:49 pm

Just a point of information: the publication/site you’re trying to punk is called National Review. There is no the. It’s not The National Review or the National Review. Just National Review. Imagine someone saying they subscribe to The Mother Jones or The Harper’s and you’ll get a good sense of how dumb you sound inserting an unnecessary article. Good luck with your hilarious venture.

82

Kurt 02.03.04 at 8:50 pm

I’m having a hard time seeing why occasionally posting letters from readers, as NRO does, is any worse than having a comments section, as Crooked Timber does, where absolutely anyone can say absolutely anything.

83

whoops 02.03.04 at 8:55 pm

dalai,

Children under 19 in Texas:

Total, B200P, B200P%, UB200P, UB200P%

1993-5:
5,754 2,956 51.4 1,031 17.9
1994-6:
5,841 2,958 50.6 1,074 18.4
1995-7:
5,893 2,934 49.8 1,034 17.6
1996-8:
5,992 2,971 49.6 1,084 18.1
1997-9:
5,979 2,873 48.0 1,040 17.4
1998-2000:
5,977 2,768 46.3 973 16.3
1999-2001:
6,241 2,884 46.2 990 15.9
2000-2002:
6,378 2,998 47.0 1,013 15.9

Total: Total children under 19, all income levels
B200P: number at or below the 200% poverty line
B200P%: B200P as a percentage of the Total
UB200P: uninsured number at or below the 200% poverty line
UB200P%: UB200P as a percentage of the Total

84

whoops 02.03.04 at 8:56 pm

dalai,

Children under 19 in Texas:

Total, B200P, B200P%, UB200P, UB200P%

1993-5:
5,754 2,956 51.4 1,031 17.9
1994-6:
5,841 2,958 50.6 1,074 18.4
1995-7:
5,893 2,934 49.8 1,034 17.6
1996-8:
5,992 2,971 49.6 1,084 18.1
1997-9:
5,979 2,873 48.0 1,040 17.4
1998-2000:
5,977 2,768 46.3 973   16.3
1999-2001:
6,241 2,884 46.2 990   15.9
2000-2002:
6,378 2,998 47.0 1,013 15.9	

Total: Total children under 19, all income levels
B200P: number at or below the 200% poverty line
B200P%: B200P as a percentage of the Total
UB200P: uninsured number at or below the 200% poverty line
UB200P%: UB200P as a percentage of the Total

85

Satan luvvs Repugs 02.03.04 at 8:59 pm

Dear Jonah Goldberg,
we’ve actually been punking NR for almost a year now, Ted just let the cat out of the bag. Most of the anonymous letters you publish are complete fabrications, and you’ve got your head up your ass too far to realize it.

Thanks for all the laffs Jonah. You and Bozo are two of a kind.

86

Ken C. 02.03.04 at 9:03 pm

“I’m having a hard time seeing why occasionally posting letters from readers, as NRO does, is any worse than having a comments section, as Crooked Timber does, where absolutely anyone can say absolutely anything.”

Posting letters from readers implies a certain level of quality control, even endorsement, by the blog owner, that simply having an open comments section does not have.

I would certainly agree that it’s a bad idea to make broad general inferences about political blogs based on some random comment in open discussion. Of course, I’ve only seen such inferences made by right-wingers, about non-right-wing blogs.

87

whoops 02.03.04 at 9:04 pm

Oh man, now you’re just trying to push my buttons, right????

Sorry, this is me going into kneejerk-lefty reaction mode. Nothing pisses me off more than when someone suggests he/she somehow knows what’s “better” for a group of people they absolutely know nothing about except for their perceived political affiliation (by basing it on a general measure; whether they live in a “blue” state or a “red” state). That is the height of ivory tower elitism.

brian,

I actually might have no problem with Red states continuing with their policies. As the education and wealth gap grows, there will be less competition for democrats in the job market and basic necessities coming from the old economy states might even be cheaper.

It would be nice if they stopped taking a disproportionate amount of money from the government at the cost of Blue states. I thought conservatives were against the notion of a welfare state.

88

whoops 02.03.04 at 9:05 pm

sorry for the double post with the table… was just making the font monospaced.

89

Vroosterat Amethozene 02.03.04 at 9:06 pm

MD, chap…you’re like shooting fish in a barrel.
You’re being punk’d old bean.

By the by, “infer” is the more accurate English, since I am using a suggestion, rather that a statement of fact regarding the nature of this blogs’ ownership (who’ve shown a more patient sense of humor than you have…all credit to them).

In addition, the statistics presented here demonstrate the limitations of statistics in general. No mention regarding the high influx of foreign nationals and immigrants in Texas who form a parge proportion of lower income families (or other socio-economic factors that state government can address but not in fact change,), nor, as another blogger pointed out, recognition that the redness or blueness of states is in flux, nor a comparison of cost-of-living versus the real income number used to bolster the claim. If I’m not mistaken I also believe I’ve seen statistics indicating that GOP voters (as opposed to residents) tend toward higher education levels than Dem voters, but I can’t remember the source and it proves about as much as the red/blue postulations herein.

Cheers,
V.

PS I’ll go away if MD will… ;)

90

daniel 02.03.04 at 9:11 pm

Dear vroosterat,

How are the economies of West Virginia, Alabama, and Wyoming doing?

love,
daniel

91

Ken C. 02.03.04 at 9:12 pm

“By the by, “infer” is the more accurate English, since I am using a suggestion, rather that a statement of fact regarding the nature of this blogs’ ownership (who’ve shown a more patient sense of humor than you have…all credit to them).”

You mean “imply”, not “infer”. Google for “imply infer”.

92

whoops 02.03.04 at 9:15 pm

One more thing about Welfare States: why do republicans get agriculture subsidies but democrats get no informatics subsidies?

93

brian 02.03.04 at 9:18 pm

I actually might have no problem with Red states continuing with their policies.
——————————–
That’s fantastic. Though what difference your opinion makes to the Red States is negligible at best. It can only make a difference to the state in which you reside.

As the education and wealth gap grows, there will be less competition for democrats in the job market and basic necessities coming from the old economy states might even be cheaper.
———————————-
You’ll have to clear this statement up for me. Mostly on how political affiliation affects job market prospects. But seriously, I have no idea what you’re saying here.

It would be nice if they stopped taking a disproportionate amount of money from the government at the cost of Blue states. I thought conservatives were against the notion of a welfare state.
———————————
Absolutely. I’m completely against the welfare state. We are not in disagreement here. Frankly, I think states should be footing their own bills.

Just a quick question though…a few posts up, you came to the conclusion that Maryland, a state with a Republican governor, was in fact a Democratic state. Could you elaborate?

94

Katherine 02.03.04 at 9:20 pm

do people here really see no difference between a comments section and letters that are posted on the blog itself? It’s the difference between the city of Wherever allowing people to hang posters on their lampposts regardless of their content–maybe with some restrictions about profanity or threats–and having city employees xerox and hang their favorite posters.

95

brian 02.03.04 at 9:20 pm

Enlighten me on what an “informatics subsidy” is and why Dems don’t get them?

96

whoops 02.03.04 at 9:23 pm

You’ll have to clear this statement up for me. Mostly on how political affiliation affects job market prospects.
————————–
Sorry, I meant people living in and benefiting from the resources provided by Blue states.

Just a quick question though…a few posts up, you came to the conclusion that Maryland, a state with a Republican governor, was in fact a Democratic state. Could you elaborate?
—————————
A Blue state is usually defined as one whose electoral votes went for Gore in 2000.

97

Andrew | BYTE BACK 02.03.04 at 9:27 pm

>>Wow!! Loook at all the people come here to defend the right of the National Review to lie to them!

Nailed it. you can tell ther right has landed here and found it wanting. They like the lies. They are addicted to the lies. It’s the only way they sleep at night.

Oh – and more lies. Please – Bush in 2004

98

whoops 02.03.04 at 9:28 pm

Enlighten me on what an “informatics subsidy” is and why Dems don’t get them?

Informatics is also known as Computer Science. Software developers and the like receive no special funding from the government.

Census data shows Blue states depending on the computer industry more than Red states do.

Also, see this article (please disregard the inflamatory title):

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2004/0401.florida.html

99

brian 02.03.04 at 9:39 pm

whoops,

Your definitons of “Red” and “Blue” states are fine, but they don’t represent a normal statistical measure for the kind of questions you’re asking. I could argue that they’re outdated….you’re using a year 2000 standard. We’ve had Senate elections since then, we’ve had changes in governorship, and we’re less than a year from another Presidential election. There’s no way you can use that standard of a state going for Gore to determine a states general political atmosphere.

Secondly, what kind of funding a state gets has nothing to do with such a measure any more than it would what the state bird or flower is. States receive federal funding based upon a multitude of factors: how powerful their respective Senators and Representatives are, what programs they determine to be important, what programs are overfunded or underfunded, what their tax base is, etc etc etc….

100

Kurt 02.03.04 at 9:40 pm

Posting letters from readers implies a certain level of quality control, even endorsement, by the blog owner, that simply having an open comments section does not have.

Well, it doesn’t just “imply” a certain level of quality control. It *is* a certain level of quality control, that an open comments section does not have. So the complaint is, too much quality control?

To be clear, I’m fine with open comment sections too. We know the comments are from readers, and can judge for ourselves how reliable they are. Just like the reader emails at NRO, which are clearly labeled as such.

101

jcl 02.03.04 at 9:41 pm

do people here really see no difference between a comments section and letters that are posted on the blog itself? It’s the difference between the city of Wherever allowing people to hang posters on their lampposts regardless of their content—maybe with some restrictions about profanity or threats—and having city employees xerox and hang their favorite posters.
———
1. I’m really not sure what to make of this analogy. In most places, you can post ads for almost anything …have you ever seen the posts near college campuses?

2. When someone posts an email/ letter in a blog it is because the poster thinks it is interesting, not because he necessarily vouches for its truthfulness. That interest could take many forms: “this guy seems knowledgable, here’s what he says,” “can you believe what this guy says!” etc.

3. Are you telling me that your ability to evaluate a source of information or the liklihood of believing a source depends on whether a site posts that email (as an email) in the comments section or the blog itself (especially where the blog is openly ideological)? NRO never presented the email as representing anything but the author’s own statements; nor did they say that because they received an email the story must be true. Think for yourself – if you don’t understand that you must critically evaluate information on an opinion site THAT IS YOUR OWN PROBLEM. Nor is it NRO’s problem if large numbers of people cannot think critically.

102

brian 02.03.04 at 9:44 pm

Informatics is also known as Computer Science. Software developers and the like receive no special funding from the government.
——————————
This is not true. I track Congressional funding for a living.

103

Greg Piper 02.03.04 at 9:46 pm

Sounded like a good idea at first, but you underestimate Goldberg’s resourcefulness. And National Review has a lot more resources that they could use to punk you if they wanted, and never even announce it. You might have better luck going after an egalitarian grassroots forum such as FreeRepublic.com.

104

poopypants 02.03.04 at 9:46 pm

I know you are, but what am I?

105

whoops 02.03.04 at 9:52 pm

Informatics is also known as Computer Science. Software developers and the like receive no special funding from the government.
———————————————
This is not true. I track Congressional funding for a living.

Great. I’d be happy to learn where I can pass go and collect my extra check then.

106

Katherine 02.03.04 at 9:54 pm

“In most places, you can post ads for almost anything.”

1. this is precisely my point. You can post ads for anything, but it would be inappropriate for the city or college to post a lot of things.

2. If you’re reprinting something that you have no particular reason to believe is true or that you believe is untrue, you have an obligation to point this out.

3. If the rule in an opinion column or blog is “anything goes”, why are y’all so freaking obsessed with Paul Krugman? Sure, people are responsible for forming their own opinions, but those claiming to be journalists have responsibilities too–and those include not printing allegations that are as likely as not to be made up.

107

Vroosterat Amethozene 02.03.04 at 9:58 pm

Ken C.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=infer

Infer and imply can have interchangable meanings.

Appreciate the spirit behind the effort though. Cheers!

Vroo.

108

brian 02.03.04 at 10:02 pm

Great. I’d be happy to learn where I can pass go and collect my extra check then.
———————————
Well, I’m about to provide you with a service that’s lots of other folks pay a lot of money for…I’m going to tell you how.

First of all, you need to go to the government. They’re not going to come to you. They don’t even know you exist, at least in terms of funding priorities. There are a couple of ways you could do this. You could try the Senator of Congressman of your home state/district and the staff memebr which handles the issues most closely related to your project. If he’s an appropriator, that’s a bonus right there. Be prepared to present a white paper on what it is you’re looking to fund, and why the government should fund it. Some members will specifically ask for justification. They’ll also want to know what kinds of funding, if any, you’ve received in the past.

It would probably help to find out which department and account you should seek funding under…you know DoD RDT&E, Homeland Security, whatever. You’ll kind of have to figure this one out yourself, or hire someone specializing in Washington representation to help you with this. It also helps to talk to House/Senate Approps staff.

Provided you make it through all of the different votes, you’ll be good to go.

109

Ken C. 02.03.04 at 10:02 pm

Posting letters from readers implies a certain level of quality control, even endorsement, by the blog owner, that simply having an open comments section does not have.

“Well, it doesn’t just “imply” a certain level of quality control. It *is* a certain level of quality control”

Sigh. From the OED, “imply” means “To involve or comprise as a necessary logical consequence; to involve the truth or existence of (something not expressly asserted or maintained).” So, yes,
it *is* a certain level of quality control, as I said.

“So the complaint is, too much quality control?”

Quality control here likely implies endorsement. NRO is presenting and endorsing trivial, unverifiable gossip. This is a bad thing for nominal journalists to be doing. It’s amusing to try to hoax them. Do you have an objection to this?

110

John 02.03.04 at 10:06 pm

Well, it doesn’t just “imply” a certain level of quality control. It is a certain level of quality control, that an open comments section does not have. So the complaint is, too much quality control?

To be clear, I’m fine with open comment sections too. We know the comments are from readers, and can judge for ourselves how reliable they are. Just like the reader emails at NRO, which are clearly labeled as such.

By picking out an email and posting it on the blog, you’re implying that the email is worth showing to all of your readers, as opposed to all the email that you receive but don’t post. The complaint is that Jonah picked this email out of all the ones he received, and said basically “Hey! Look at this! I think you all should see this.” That implies either that he thought that the story was probably true, or wanted to point it out to everyone even though it wasn’t proven true. With a comment section, readers can just post whatever they want, and no endorsement by the website’s author is implied.

In short, the complaint is too much quality control was implied for an email that Jonah probably didn’t even try to verify.

111

ken c. 02.03.04 at 10:06 pm

“http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=infer

Infer and imply can have interchangable meanings.”

Only to base descriptivists. “can have”, indeed.
Perhaps you didn’t read the whole webpage you cited?

112

Damon 02.03.04 at 10:11 pm

Here’s one, Ted:

The Corner

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

SENATOR ROAD RAGE? [Jonah Goldberg]

Just received the following, re everybody’s favorite Boston Brahmin running for president, from a reader:

“Dear Jonah, K-Lo and the gang at NRO,

“This is a true story that I thought you might find interesting. One time John Kerry cut our car off in traffic, causing me to bite off Dick Cheney’s cock, as I was giving him a hummer in the back seat of George W Bush’s SUV at the time. George himself was so startled by being cut off that he totally snaffled the rail of coke he was doing, blowing out a huge dust cloud of Peruvian flake into the trigger mechanism of Karl Rove’s (he was in the passenger seat) sniper rifle, causing Karl to miss out on a perfect shot on Paul Wellstone, who was crossing the street in front of us.

“Fortunately, Dick was able to sew his dick back on, and we got Wellstone in a plane crash later. Also, George was able to score another eightball from an orderly at the ER where we took Dick.

“Hugs and kisses, Peggy Noonan”

Of course we can’t vouch for the authenticity of this, but if Kerry has the same problem with flying off the handle – behind the wheel no less – as Dean, he’s in trouble.

Posted at 04:59 PM

113

Kurt 02.03.04 at 10:12 pm

Quality control here likely implies endorsement. NRO is presenting and endorsing trivial, unverifiable gossip. This is a bad thing for nominal journalists to be doing. It’s amusing to try to hoax them. Do you have an objection to this?

No. I don’t have an objection to the hoax attempt, although so far it looks like it’s backfired. I don’t think that posting the emails amounts to endorsement, but that’s something that reasonable people can disagree on. The email originally posted by Jonah that started this whole thing was titled “A Kerry Tale”; to me that’s enough to make clear that Jonah himself is not personally vouching for the accuracy of the story.

Here’s something that the imply/infer guy might find useful:

“Usage Note: Infer is sometimes confused with imply, but the distinction is a useful one. When we say that a speaker or sentence implies something, we mean that it is conveyed or suggested without being stated outright: When the mayor said that she would not rule out a business tax increase, she implied (not inferred) that some taxes might be raised. Inference, on the other hand, is the activity performed by a reader or interpreter in drawing conclusions that are not explicit in what is said: When the mayor said that she would not rule out a tax increase, we inferred that she had been consulting with some new financial advisers, since her old advisers were in favor of tax reductions.”

114

rugbyman 02.03.04 at 10:13 pm

Although I now realize my English Degree, coming from a Texas University, is marginalized by liberal elites, here goes.

When I say something, I am Implying. The way you take it, is Infering.

115

Nat Whilk 02.03.04 at 10:15 pm

These statistics showing the superiority of blue states to red states are fascinating. Let’s look at the analogous figures by partitioning according to ethnicity rather than geography. Let’s start with African-Americans. How do their stats compare to national averages and how do they tend to vote? Inquiring minds what to know.

116

Brendan Lynch 02.03.04 at 10:17 pm

Hey Brian,
” Yes, I absolutely think there’s something good about defending NR. I can understand why you probably don’t…it’s a publication diametrically opposed to your ideals and beliefs. That’s fine. Individuality is the essence of conservatism, so as a conservative I don’t expect anyone or any publication to please 100% of the public. I don’t care if you like it or not, nor do I expect you to like it at all.”

You seem a little confused – you think that “individuality is the essence of conservatism,” but then you write as though it’s good to defend NRO as if it were the exemplar of conservatism as you define it.

What, then, pray tell, is NRO doing running articles opposing the choice of gay marriage because it undermines a traditional social institution – by contributing editor Stanley Kurtz, http://www.nationalreview.com/kurtz/kurtz200402020917.asp – and criticizing the media for “distort[ing] the sexual narrative” from its proper connection with reproduction, and for “pushing the line of broadcast standards past the basest denominator of decency, alienating legions of people of values” – as expressed by guest commentator Nicole Gelinas, http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/gelinas200402030859.asp?

Methinks you’ve conflated conservatism and libertarianism. I’d agree that individualism is more or less the essence of libertarianism, but individualism is most certainly not the essence either of conservatism or of NRO.

117

whoops 02.03.04 at 10:18 pm

brian,

Thanks, that’s very interesting. How realistic have you found government funding for this industry to be? For example, do you see anyone quitting a job at IBM Research or any other lab to try their luck at those funds?

118

jcl 02.03.04 at 10:20 pm

1. I still find your analogy less than apt. FIrst, You distinguish between two mediums – comments and blog – yet you only use one medium – the post – where it is generally accepted that anyone (incl. colleges and gov’t) can post. Perhaps you meant to distinguish (for example) between a streetpole and a city government bullitin board. Second, if a city told its employees to post its favorite posters (perhaps to “beutify the city”), it wouldn’t be vouching for the opinions expressed by their employees because the understanding is that the employees are choosing their own personal favorites, not something the city says they have to post. The underlying question here is vouching. In posting, NRO did not say that the posted was true and, most importantly, identified that the source was a single reader.

2. I guess NRO could say, “Here’s an email we received; We think its interesting. While we have no particular reason to doubt its veracity, there is always the possibility that this particular reader could have made the story up. Further, as we receive many emails we have not fully checked into this particular reader’s credibility,” but it seems like this would be tacitly understood by most intelligent readers simply by the context.

3. First, Paul Krugman presents his own ideas and, therefore, inheretly vouches for them with his reputation as a journalist for the times and a professor. Conservatives feel that often Paul Krugman, in representing himself in his column, says things that are in some cases arguably wrong and, in others, factually untrue. THe former is OK in an opinion column, the latter is relevant as to Krugman’s credibility. However, the Krugman-type situation is not what’s going on here. Goldberg did not present the letter in one of his columns as proof of anything or as a basis for any of his beliefs, nor did he say that he knew it to be true. Certainly, it was implied that he thought the story was probably true, but that’s noting more than saying, “I don’t know for sure, but I believe this guy.” – compeletely OK for an op/ed columnist in a blog. Second, you should distinguish between blogs and opinion columns, especial newspaper op/ed. Third, nobody said “anything goes.” Obscuring the source of information would not be OK, nor would presenting the email in a way to make it look difinitive, nor would explicitly vouching for its credibility in the absense of corroboration. NRO did none of these things; there is simply nothing wrong with posting a letter and saying, “here’s an email I got, take it for what it’s worth” (Nothing there hinders one from deciding that the information isn’t worth much).

119

John 02.03.04 at 10:24 pm

No. I don’t have an objection to the hoax attempt, although so far it looks like it’s backfired. I don’t think that posting the emails amounts to endorsement, but that’s something that reasonable people can disagree on. The email originally posted by Jonah that started this whole thing was titled “A Kerry Tale”; to me that’s enough to make clear that Jonah himself is not personally vouching for the accuracy of the story.

Reasonable people can disagree on whether Jonah was implying that the story was true. But obviously, he thought that the story was worth mentioning for some reason. Now, what reason do you think that is? He’s not swearing on his mother’s grave that the story is true, but the fact that he posted it indicates: 1.) that he believes it is true, and/or 2.) that he hopes that some people will assume that it is true. What else could have motivated him to post it? Maybe it’s not an “endorsement,” but it does show that he wants the story heard, and he’s doing his best to ensure that it is. Don’t you think that this distinguishes Jonah from someone who merely put up a comment board?

120

whoops 02.03.04 at 10:26 pm

nat whilk,

Since we’re talking about societies, I assume you meant predominantly African-American communities. We should then likewise include the caucasian community from Wyoming.

121

Good Lord 02.03.04 at 10:29 pm

Egads, Vroosterat, please don’t tell me you’re really going to the mat on this. “Imply” and “infer” differ in their perspectives. A speaker/writer implies, whereas a listener/reader infers. Classic mistake…in 7th grade. Here’s a usage note from dictionary.com that says essentially the same thing:

Usage Note: Infer is sometimes confused with imply, but the distinction is a useful one. When we say that a speaker or sentence implies something, we mean that it is conveyed or suggested without being stated outright: When the mayor said that she would not rule out a business tax increase, she implied (not inferred) that some taxes might be raised. Inference, on the other hand, is the activity performed by a reader or interpreter in drawing conclusions that are not explicit in what is said: When the mayor said that she would not rule out a tax increase, we inferred that she had been consulting with some new financial advisers, since her old advisers were in favor of tax reductions.

122

brian 02.03.04 at 10:34 pm

You seem a little confused – you think that “individuality is the essence of conservatism,” but then you write as though it’s good to defend NRO as if it were the exemplar of conservatism as you define it.
——————————–
I don’t think I ever said NR was the “exemplar of conservatism”. But that proves my point. I don’t march lockstep with NR, yet I find it worthy enough to defend. Do I find things I disagree with there? Absolutely. But so what? There’s no virtue in defending something or someone solely because they agree with you on every single minute detail that can possibly be scrounged up. I’m open-minded enough to understand that not everyone is going to agree with me wholesale. Regardless of what I agree with or disagree with in NR, it’s a publication I like and a publication I learn from. I also like The Nation. I subscribe to both. Did I just your mind or what?

123

hesiod 02.03.04 at 10:36 pm

Great Job Ted.

You singlehandedly discredited every single “anonymous” anecdotal e-mail that NRO will ever publish attacking any of the Democratic candidates.

BWAAA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

And, of course, the wingnuts from NRO are whining like stuck pigs about it because you took away the keys to their slime machine.

124

jcl 02.03.04 at 10:37 pm

Reasonable people can disagree on whether Jonah was implying that the story was true. But obviously, he thought that the story was worth mentioning for some reason. Now, what reason do you think that is? He’s not swearing on his mother’s grave that the story is true, but the fact that he posted it indicates: 1.) that he believes it is true, and/or 2.) that he hopes that some people will assume that it is true. What else could have motivated him to post it? Maybe it’s not an “endorsement,” but it does show that he wants the story heard, and he’s doing his best to ensure that it is. Don’t you think that this distinguishes Jonah from someone who merely put up a comment board?
——–
Goldberg is an opinion columnist; expressing his opinion is what he does. There is nothing that says ANYONE has to be nice to John Kerry. If Goldberg thinks (rationally or irrationally) that Kerry is a jerk, he has the right to express that view and post letter from other people who agree, so long as he does not say “I know this guy is telling the truth” when, in fact, he does not. If it turned out that the story is not true, you could certainly attack the reader for being dishonest and Goldberg for being gullible. But, that is not what this is about – the attack is that Goldberg acted unethically. Simply, he did not.

125

brian 02.03.04 at 10:42 pm

Thanks, that’s very interesting. How realistic have you found government funding for this industry to be? For example, do you see anyone quitting a job at IBM Research or any other lab to try their luck at those funds?
———————————–
The government funds all kinds of stuff you wouldn’t believe (or maybe you would). But I can tell you that computer and software development is definitely not an industry that’s overlooked. The only kind of data I don’t have access to doesn’t really note how many funding requests are DOA, so to speak, so I couldn’t tell you for sure what your chances are. It depends on the quality of the program, the Congressional support you have for it, the local support you have for it (in some cases), etc etc etc.

I would not treat federal funding as retirement funds, however. For one, it’s infinitely wiser to have your name attached to a company, school, etc. But this could also mean that you start your own company.

126

jcl 02.03.04 at 10:42 pm

You singlehandedly discredited every single “anonymous” anecdotal e-mail that NRO will ever publish attacking any of the Democratic candidates.
—–
Goldberg noted that the emails are not annonymous to him – he can check with the source. He only leaves the name and address off so that people who have better things to do don’t have to deal with “The Attack of Ten Thousand Liberal Bloggers.” In other words, simply sending an annonymous email is now a tip-off to NRO that the this site or others like it is the source. Have fun.

127

Zizka 02.03.04 at 10:44 pm

For a smart blog CT gets some dumb commentators, though in this particular case it’s easy to understand why.

Decades ago, while I was working my way through Rice University, I had a job as a diener in the morgue. I stayed there overnight as a sort of watchman and to receive and process the new cases that might come in.

During orientation I was given a short list of people who had in the past shown an unhealthy interest in our accessions, particularly when they were young and female. Photographs were included, and I could swear that one of them was George W. Bush, who at that time had not yet entered the service. However, whatever had happened was before my time, and I never saw him there in person.

128

Katherine 02.03.04 at 10:45 pm

A comments section and a blog are both html websites, often with a similar format. The difference is who’s doing the posting. Same with my analogy. I am comparing it to the mayor or the public works commissioner or whoever picking one poster, and having employees xerox it and hang it all over town.

If there’s no reason to believe it’s true, what is the point of publishing it? Is it interesting that someone would make up a story about John Kerry being a snob? Intelligent viewers and listeners should know not to take anything they hear on Fox or Limbaugh seriously until it’s independently confirmed, as far as I’m concerned, but other people don’t see it that way and it doesn’t absolve them of responsibility. Otherwise shoddy journalism becomes its own excuse.

I don’t think an opinion column means you can responsibly print any rumor you hear, and I don’t think having someone else tell you something means you’re not responsible in any way for its truth or falsehood.

129

Alaska Jack 02.03.04 at 10:48 pm

Bringing this topic back around, I just have one small question.

Suppose I send an initial e-mail to National Review, claiming that I saw Howard Dean bite the head off a puppy dog when he didn’t think anyone was looking. They publish this e-mail in the Corner.

I then send an e-mail (which I will imaginatively call E-mail #2) to Ted Barlow gleefully announcing I made the whole thing up, and claiming my $10 gift certificate.

Ted Barlow, in turn, dutifully posts this development to Crooked Timber.

Via a third e-mail I then inform him, escalating the level of glee once again, that the incident *really did* take place.

Set aside for a moment the fact that I fleeced Barlow of $10. Upon his receipt of E-mail #2, would he check into my claim that I made the whole story up before posting it?

Just wondering.

130

daniel 02.03.04 at 10:57 pm

alaska jack,

I assume he would require proof that your story is fabricated.

For example, you could send a letter claiming Candidate X slapped a woman in State A along with proof that he was in State B at the time.

131

Nat Whilk 02.03.04 at 11:00 pm

Since we’re talking about societies, I assume you meant predominantly African-American communities. We should then likewise include the caucasian community from Wyoming.

What I intended to suggest was that instead doing a geographical classification like “Mississippi: Republican, Dumb as Nails”, “Connecticut: Democrat, Mensa Candidates”, etc., we do an ethnic classification like “African-American: [typical party affiliation],[typical educational achievement]”, “American Indian: [typical party affiliation], [typical educational achievement]” etc. Of course, combining the two (if one has the data) might be interesting, as well. As far as studying the “caucasians of Wyoming”, their stats shouldn’t be much different from “residents of Wyoming” (e.g., higher percent of high school graduates than Connecticut, etc.)

132

John 02.03.04 at 11:08 pm

Goldberg is an opinion columnist; expressing his opinion is what he does. There is nothing that says ANYONE has to be nice to John Kerry. If Goldberg thinks (rationally or irrationally) that Kerry is a jerk, he has the right to express that view and post letter from other people who agree, so long as he does not say “I know this guy is telling the truth” when, in fact, he does not. If it turned out that the story is not true, you could certainly attack the reader for being dishonest and Goldberg for being gullible. But, that is not what this is about – the attack is that Goldberg acted unethically. Simply, he did not.

If Jonah posted the story because he honestly believed that the story was true, then yes, he’d be gullible rather than unethical. On the other hand, if he knew for sure that the story was phony, you would agree that he was unethical, right? The question is, how do you classify the grey area? In my opinion, if you honestly have no idea whether a story is true, you shouldn’t publish it. If you have so little regard for the truth that you’ll pass along any rumor that fits your agenda, then I’d call that unethical. Perhaps you disagree on the “ethics” issue, but would you really have respect for Goldberg as a commentator if he did this sort of thing all the time?

133

jcl 02.03.04 at 11:11 pm

A comments section and a blog are both html websites, often with a similar format. The difference is who’s doing the posting. Same with my analogy. I am comparing it to the mayor or the public works commissioner or whoever picking one poster, and having employees xerox it and hang it all over town.
——-
Uh-huh – as to who’s doing the posting – the reader could post in the comments section (BTW – there is no comments section in NRO, the posted email was sent directly to Goldberg) or someone could post it in the blog and it makes no difference until the poster says, “I know this to be true.” Until then, the ultimate responsiblity for the veracity of the story is on the emailer. OF COURSE, posting it in the blog signals that the author believes it is probably true or, at least, interesting. You all are acting as if Goldberg doesn’t have the right to think John Keryy is a world-class, grade A asshold; He does and he has the right to express that opinion. And, the story could be true; nobody disproved it any more that NRO proved it – everybody just thinks that the nasty old conservatives are being so mean to poor John; so unlike the treatment W receives from compassionate liberal bloggers.
As to the analogy, government can hang signs on a public pole if it wants, or can print an ad, or can deliver a message through the mail (postal workers are gov’t employees). The problem is only when the soemone vouches for the truth of a story (not just says that he thinks it could be or is probably true) without adequate justification.

If there’s no reason to believe it’s true, what is the point of publishing it? Is it interesting that someone would make up a story about John Kerry being a snob? Intelligent viewers and listeners should know not to take anything they hear on Fox or Limbaugh seriously until it’s independently confirmed, as far as I’m concerned, but other people don’t see it that way and it doesn’t absolve them of responsibility. Otherwise shoddy journalism becomes its own excuse.
——
Blogging and journalism are not the same thing. Goldberg did not report the story as truth, nor use it to support a proposition in one of his columns. A blog is a forum for people to share opinions, stories, articles from other sources, etc. Hence, the obvious statement I used before becomes unnecessary.

I don’t think an opinion column means you can responsibly print any rumor you hear, and I don’t think having someone else tell you something means you’re not responsible in any way for its truth or falsehood.
—-
Goldberg did not print the email in an opinion column. When you forward an email to somebody do you take responsibility for the truth of everything in the email or do you simply forward it to let others know what the senders had to say. Basically, what Goldberg did was forward the email to anyone that cared to read (a lot of blogging works like this). He never claimed to know that the story was absolutely true. How do you know this is “just any rumor”? Point being, you’re making many assumptions.

134

Kurt 02.03.04 at 11:12 pm

Reasonable people can disagree on whether Jonah was implying that the story was true. But obviously, he thought that the story was worth mentioning for some reason. Now, what reason do you think that is? He’s not swearing on his mother’s grave that the story is true, but the fact that he posted it indicates: 1.) that he believes it is true, and/or 2.) that he hopes that some people will assume that it is true. What else could have motivated him to post it?

3. He thinks it’s interesting. Not that 1 and 2 are necessarily wrong, but NRO is essentially entertainemnt. He posts things that he thinks people might find interesting and/or entertaining. This is particularly true in Jonah’s case. Some people at NRO are dull, humorless ideologues. Jonah posts links to penguin hitting games, funny videos, anything that strikes his fancy. If you want to say that he would never post similar stories about Bush, you’re right. NRO is basically going to print things that appeal to Republicans. We all know this, and can take their postings for whatever they’re worth. Half the authors over there I just breeze right by.

135

rugbyman 02.03.04 at 11:13 pm

watch out john, the NEWSPAPER OF RECORD and THE BOSTON GLOBE will take you off their Christmas card(oops) Kwanzaa list.

136

jcl 02.03.04 at 11:23 pm

If Jonah posted the story because he honestly believed that the story was true, then yes, he’d be gullible rather than unethical. On the other hand, if he knew for sure that the story was phony, you would agree that he was unethical, right?
——
Of course I agree that posting what you know NOT to be true is unethical. However, I didn’t include that part because I didn’t think it was even involved here – everyone seems to be pointing to Goldberg’s posting as a sign that he does, in fact, believe it to be true. Further, it’s highly unlikely that Goldberg would post the story if he knew it to be untrue – there’s just nothing in it for him: “Kerry cuts in line” is too trivial to be picked up by CNN or FOX; Corner readers are generally conservatives who don’t need to be convinced not to vote for Kerry whether he’s a jerk or not; Liberals just won’t believe it. If you could prove Goldberg deliberatly posted a story he knew to be false, I would stop defending him.

The question is, how do you classify the grey area? In my opinion, if you honestly have no idea whether a story is true, you shouldn’t publish it. If you have so little regard for the truth that you’ll pass along any rumor that fits your agenda, then I’d call that unethical. Perhaps you disagree on the “ethics” issue, but would you really have respect for Goldberg as a commentator if he did this sort of thing all the time?
——
I have to disagree that this is a “grey area case.” To make it such, you have to assume that he had no idea that the story was false or that he seriously doubted it. This is a huge assumption; Goldberg stated that he has the contact info for the sender and he’s no novice – he’s been in the opinion business for a little while now – I think he’s probably able to make up his mind fairly confindently on the veracity of sources. He already stated that he receives a great deal of email that he declines to post because it “seems too good to be true.” That’s the problem with the attacks here – they can only be sustained on highly unlikely, conspiracy-theory assumptions.

137

whoops 02.03.04 at 11:26 pm

nat,

A race of people scattered across the nation is not a community. You could absolutely look at a region that’s predominantly African-American though.

As for Wyoming’s High School credential rate, it was 87% in 2002 compared to Connecticut’s 92%.

http://measuringup.highereducation.org/2002/state_comparison.cfm

138

frankly0 02.03.04 at 11:30 pm

Several points.

A blog for NR, precisely because it is sponsored by a well known national publication, most certainly should subscribe to some real journalistic standards. It’s not Ma and Pa Kettle’s vanity site, right? If such a blog publishes an email, there’s some real expectation that it has had a little due diligence applied beforehand. This is one of the reasons, of course, that it is the perfect venue for the Crazy Right Wing Conspiracy to spread its rumors and lies.

It’s important to note as well that Jonah Goldberg defends his using the email, by suggesting (though never quite asserting) that he knows who it was who wrote the email, and that this person is, by his lights, creditable (because he/she is “known” to him). And Goldberg ALSO implies that the email is confirmed by, and confirms, a previous story (of equal merit, no doubt) regarding a visit the Kerrys made to a restaurant. The use of the email was, therefore, hardly just to be taken with “a grain of salt”, an attitude in any case never suggested in Goldberg’s original post. No, it was clearly intended to spread an ugly, unsubstantiated rumor. (And of course Goldberg still does NOT tell us who this person is.)

As to the question of whether the letter was based on a real incident, I point to the following web page, which describes a previous iteration of essentially the same rumor, applied to some different liberal personalities.

http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/outrage/fonda.asp

If you want, do a Google search on the phrase “Do you know who I am?”, and you’ll find plenty of jokes and anecdotes with clerks coming up with snappy answers to some self-important person. It’s a staple piece of fiction.

Only a conman would publish the email, and only a fool would believe it. But Goldberg is such a conman, and his right wing readers are such fools.

139

Vroosterat Amethozene 02.03.04 at 11:31 pm

GL,

No I’m not going “to the mat” on it. I’d be happy to admit to catching the first definition (4. to hint; imply) and passing on the useful distinction below. Is the distinction useful. Sure. Was the usage correct given that the same source recognizes the terms are interchanged?

I’ll let you decide for yourself. Tempest-teapot as far as I’m concerned.

PS I am glad to hear they’re teaching you seventh graders proper English. ;)

140

Dale 02.03.04 at 11:33 pm

I came over here after Jonah posted your info in The Corner. According to what I read there, you all believe that you have considerable intellectual power. I enjoy reading the thoughts of the occasional intelligent liberal, so I read through the entire page, hoping to read a single thoughtful comment.

I wasted my time. Kristof you aren’t.

141

jcl 02.03.04 at 11:43 pm

A blog for NR, precisely because it is sponsored by a well known national publication, most certainly should subscribe to some real journalistic standards.
——-
1. NR IS A CONSERVATIVE OPINION PUBLICATION AND ADVERTISES ITSELF AS SUCH.

2. NR/Goldberg are not reporting this incident as fact, i.e. “John Kerry today cut in line, showing his innate jackassishness”. IN A BLOG, they are saying, “I received this email today, see what you think; it might be true.”

3. Goldberg responded to the Snopes article; you can still read the article and honestly believe that the story about Kerry is true.
I don’t find it implaussible that a large number of politicians and famous people (R and D) would say, “Do you know who i am?” Some stories are undoubtably fiction; others are not.

4. If the best the “vast right-wing conspiracy” can come up with about Kerry is that he tried to cut line once and can be somewhat arrogant then your concern about it is probably disproportionate.

5. BTW – I heard a rumor that Kerry served in Vietnam. Any truth to that?

142

Katherine 02.03.04 at 11:44 pm

Actually, here’s the real problem with this thread: we’re all acting as if the National Review normally upholds high standards of journalism. They should, but they don’t. Off the top of my head I can think of several lousy anti-gay pieces and an article about Jean Chretien and terror that completely misrepresents the Maher Arar case. Those were the magazine itself; the blog is worse, the only standard is “You know what I heard?” I can’t imagine, say, Tapped writing the leftish equivalent of the stuff the Corner puts out. (a few writers are different, but only a few.)

(They also seem to think today is Super Tuesday, based on their website.)

143

zizka 02.03.04 at 11:49 pm

Dale, most of the unintelligent comments are from conservatives like yourself sent over by the Twerp From Hell.

144

zizka 02.03.04 at 11:53 pm

Most of them with fake email addresses like yours.

145

Kurt 02.03.04 at 11:57 pm

I can’t imagine, say, Tapped writing the leftish equivalent of the stuff the Corner puts out.

Posted earlier today on Tapped:

“For example, I happened across a woman in Columbia, a former Howard Dean supporter who said she was reconsidering her backing of the former Vermont Governor. It wasn’t the scream that turned her off, she said, nor was it Dean’s losses in Iowa and New Hampshire. No, it was her husband’s concerns that Dean’s defense of civil unions reflected a “secret agenda” that he would reveal only when elected. In short, she was suggesting, maybe Dean was secretly gay.”

Do you think the author independently verified this with the husband, to make sure that was really his thought process? I doubt it.

For what it’s worth, I find the letter to the Corner a little bit more persuasive than the mystical, uber-wise cabdrivers that William Raspberry seems to come across so often.

146

jcl 02.03.04 at 11:59 pm

Actually, here’s the real problem with this thread: we’re all acting as if the National Review normally upholds high standards of journalism. They should, but they don’t. Off the top of my head I can think of several lousy anti-gay pieces and an article about Jean Chretien and terror that completely misrepresents the Maher Arar case. Those were the magazine itself; the blog is worse, the only standard is “You know what I heard?” I can’t imagine, say, Tapped writing the leftish equivalent of the stuff the Corner puts out. (a few writers are different, but only a few.)
——–
Its an opinion journal. I know liberals have trouble accepting that people can disagree with your positions honestly and not be stuid, cold-hearted, or racist, but its true. Expressing conservative opinion is not yet a crime. I just wish we could get over this “attacking the messenger” impulse. I don’t think journals like The Nation, etc. uphold any higher standards, but I don’t begrude its right to exist and people’s right to hold liberal opinion. More importatnly, I’m more intersted in attacking liberal arguments than in expressing my disdain for the liberal publications. We could deal instead with serious arguments. Instead of saying, “NR is full of lying liars and has the journalistic standards of a cockroach.” how about, “I disagree with ____ in NR because….” And before you say, but NR attacked Kerry – it was presented as an amusing anecdote for conservatives, and a reason why he might have trouble getting support in the long run, not as a reason to vote against him – his policies and voting record are reason enough.

147

shocked and awed 02.04.04 at 12:00 am

I myself appreciate the deep intellectual insight that the corner provides:

I AM DELIGHTED . . . [Mike Potemra]
. . . to learn that Ramesh has a sister-in-law named Amber. Not only is this cool in and of itself, I understand it’s also worth 50 points on the red-state citizenship test.

148

John 02.04.04 at 12:01 am

If Jonah posted the story because he honestly believed that the story was true, then yes, he’d be gullible rather than unethical. On the other hand, if he knew for sure that the story was phony, you would agree that he was unethical, right?
———
Of course I agree that posting what you know NOT to be true is unethical. However, I didn’t include that part because I didn’t think it was even involved here – everyone seems to be pointing to Goldberg’s posting as a sign that he does, in fact, believe it to be true. Further, it’s highly unlikely that Goldberg would post the story if he knew it to be untrue – there’s just nothing in it for him: “Kerry cuts in line” is too trivial to be picked up by CNN or FOX; Corner readers are generally conservatives who don’t need to be convinced not to vote for Kerry whether he’s a jerk or not; Liberals just won’t believe it. If you could prove Goldberg deliberatly posted a story he knew to be false, I would stop defending him.

——————

The point of my question was to see how much emphasis you’re putting on the magic words “A reader tells me…” Jonah could publish something he knows to be completely false, but his statement would still be true if he phrased it “A reader tells me that John Kerry did this or that awful thing.” If you grant that this is unethical, then you grant that technically true statements that imply something not necessarily true can be unethical. Thus, the debate is not really about whether Goldberg lied, but whether he did something unethical despite telling the truth. Anyway, moving on…

—————————-
—————————-
The question is, how do you classify the grey area? In my opinion, if you honestly have no idea whether a story is true, you shouldn’t publish it. If you have so little regard for the truth that you’ll pass along any rumor that fits your agenda, then I’d call that unethical. Perhaps you disagree on the “ethics” issue, but would you really have respect for Goldberg as a commentator if he did this sort of thing all the time?
———
I have to disagree that this is a “grey area case.” To make it such, you have to assume that he had no idea that the story was false or that he seriously doubted it. This is a huge assumption; Goldberg stated that he has the contact info for the sender and he’s no novice – he’s been in the opinion business for a little while now – I think he’s probably able to make up his mind fairly confindently on the veracity of sources. He already stated that he receives a great deal of email that he declines to post because it “seems too good to be true.” That’s the problem with the attacks here – they can only be sustained on highly unlikely, conspiracy-theory assumptions.

———————–

I think that it comes down to this: You trust Jonah to publish information that’s relatively reliable. I don’t. You think he would only publish this letter if he had strong evidence that it was true. I think he’s willing to pass on this story because it’s damaging to Kerry and sounds true enough not to be ridiculous. You haven’t given me any reason to believe that Goldberg had more to support this story besides a name, an email address, and the fact that it didn’t strike him immediately as false. Thus, I think it’s fair to call it a “grey area” case; as far as we know, he had no idea whether this was a true story or a total lie.

149

shocked at awed 02.04.04 at 12:03 am

Though maybe by Amber the poster meant this Amber ;)

150

Katherine 02.04.04 at 12:06 am

1) Ruta spoke to her, in person. Very different from an email from an anonymous address.

2) The plausibility of what you are claiming matters. If I tell a reporter I support Dean and why, I don’t expect him/her to ask for a character witness. If I tell a reporter I saw Dean under-tip a waitress at a diner and make her cry, I expect more skepticism. If I tell a reporter I saw Dean beat up a waitress, a higher standard still. etc, etc.

151

Fred 02.04.04 at 12:07 am

I hardly ever read a lefty site and yours is at least ok. Kinda fun. I’m gonna punk you by and by and I expect you to grovel when I do.

The only comment I am interested in responding to is the one from the leftoid who equates a degree with leftiness. Show me they are math, hard science, medicine or engineering degrees and I might buy it. My experience is that the left has so debased the universities that a degree is often an indicator of a politically correct dolt.

Be honest – most poli sci, sociology, etc degrees are piffle, n’est ce pas?

152

Katherine 02.04.04 at 12:11 am

For what feels like the twentieth time: The fact that NR is an opinion journal does not excuse their omitting or misrepresenting key facts or printing rumors with no verification. To the extent that the Nation does it too–which I can readily believe of a few of their writers, but not others and I see zero examples–that’s not okay either. I never said anything about cockroaches or crimes, so spare me the indignation over that. I’m talking about good and lousy journalism.

153

the left drives the new economy 02.04.04 at 12:13 am

fred:

Anectodal basis: you would have a very hard time finding any conservatives in the colleges of comp sci at NU, MIT, Harvard, and BU.

Real statistics coming soon.

154

jcl 02.04.04 at 12:26 am

The point of my question was to see how much emphasis you’re putting on the magic words “A reader tells me…” Jonah could publish something he knows to be completely false, but his statement would still be true if he phrased it “A reader tells me that John Kerry did this or that awful thing.” If you grant that this is unethical, then you grant that technically true statements that imply something not necessarily true can be unethical. Thus, the debate is not really about whether Goldberg lied, but whether he did something unethical despite telling the truth. Anyway, moving on…
——–
You assume a)Goldberg accepted the email immediatly at face value and did not communicate with the author, b) that he had not interacted previously with the author of the email and, therefore, have a basis on which to evaluate his credibility, c) that he hadn’t heard other accounts of Kerry from other people which suggested a pattern of behavior into which the story fit. etc. I’m perfectly willing to admit that it is possible that Goldberg could have been more careful in checking out the story, but you’ve assumed the worst of him in every case based primarily on his conservative ideology (whether you will admit that or not) and that, I think, is a mistake without more evidence. I mean only that you (and the more vitrolic members of this board) should admit, as I have, your assumptions could just as easily be incorrect as correct and reserve judgment.

I think that it comes down to this: You trust Jonah to publish information that’s relatively reliable. I don’t. You think he would only publish this letter if he had strong evidence that it was true. I think he’s willing to pass on this story because it’s damaging to Kerry and sounds true enough not to be ridiculous. You haven’t given me any reason to believe that Goldberg had more to support this story besides a name, an email address, and the fact that it didn’t strike him immediately as false. Thus, I think it’s fair to call it a “grey area” case; as far as we know, he had no idea whether this was a true story or a total lie.
——
First, As before, you haven’t given me any reason to believe that Goldberg didn’t have good reason to beleive the story.
Second, because of this we do not know if it is an ethical grey area case. Whether it is an ETHICAL grey area case DEPENDS on whether he accepted a possibly dubious story at face value. If he had good reason (even evidence where reasonable people could disagree as to its significace) believe the story, then it is not a gery area case. If, on the other hand, he did just print the story without considering its veractiy or the likelihood that someone just made it up, then I agree, it is a grey area case where we might say he wss wrong, but it wasn’t a terrible wrong. Thus, whether it is a grey area case depends on exactly what we don’t know – whether Goldberg was convinced that the story was likley true or he just posted the story because he didn’t know it not to be true. In other words, it could be a grey area case, but we don’t know (and I don’t think so). Once again, you have simply assumed the worst of Goldberg, based on you ideologically-shaded view of him in a blog. Which, I would point out, is pretty damn close to what you accuse Goldberg of doing to Kerry.

155

Owen 02.04.04 at 12:28 am

Congratulations to Ted Barlow.

Whether or not National Review does or does not post a falsely false letter (and frankly, who cares? I’m certainly not going to go over there to find out), Ted has succeeded in annoying a lot of small minded people who have nothing better to do than stream over here and flame him. Oh, wait, they do have something better to do…they were supposed to be making up ‘personal stories’ about Democratic candidates.

While I am, just like them, wasting my time here, I wonder if the National Review people would be interested in my small minded, lie..I mean personal story…about George Bush pushing to the head of the line in Starbucks right after his secret service driver ran over a puppy?

156

jcl 02.04.04 at 12:42 am

For what feels like the twentieth time: The fact that NR is an opinion journal does not excuse their omitting or misrepresenting key facts or printing rumors with no verification. To the extent that the Nation does it too—which I can readily believe of a few of their writers, but not others and I see zero examples—that’s not okay either. I never said anything about cockroaches or crimes, so spare me the indignation over that. I’m talking about good and lousy journalism.
—-
The “its an opinion journal” was directed towards your statement for NR in general. For the 20th time, the Corner IS NOT journalism and does not claim to be, it is not even an op/ed page.

You don’t know that the anecdote is untrue any more than I know its true – this fact holds WHENEVER anyone tells you an acecdote. I would relate the Corner (and this forum) more to a conversation that journalism. Misrepresentation would have occured if Goldberg had suggested that the story came from a highly reliable source (he didn’t) or if he had simply related the anecdote as fact without revealing that it came from a reader email. We’re all grown-ups, we don’t need anyone to hold our hands and tell us, “There is a possibiility that the story was made-up or embellished because it came from a reader email.” We already know that.

Also, You haven’t pointed to anything NR the magaizine has done to misrepresent facts. You mention an anti-gay piece – but that’s a controversial issue, just the thing opinion journals should debate. Believe it or not, some people in this country do have strong moral problems with homosexuality. I am not one of those people, but I recognize other’s right to make up their own mind. It is not poor journalism because you disagree with the editorial stance. You say also that it misrepresents the Maher Arar case, but you make only that conclusory statement, presenting no evidence (in other words, representing your opinion as fact). Furthermore, I find it highly likely that what you call “misrepresentation” is a difference of opinion on how to interprete particular information.

157

Silent Prophet 02.04.04 at 1:43 am

Posts by Jonah (and others) at the Corner are addressed as much to one another as to the world. And part of the communal dialog seems to be a tacit question accompanying each post: “what do you think of this?”

See this email? What do you think? True? Outrageous? FUNNY? *WORTH* investigating? All or none of the above?

The home reader is asked these questions also, and is invited to contribute, (albeit to individual Cornerites like Jonah, and not to the Corner itself).

158

jesse 02.04.04 at 1:45 am

Do any of the Corner defenders on this thread understand that saying “I’m going to publish this tale that’s claiming that something happened” is putting the imprimatur of the group’s credibility on the tale?

No?

Well, okay.

159

Bird Dog 02.04.04 at 2:05 am

This punking business is below you, or at least I thought it was.

160

jcl 02.04.04 at 2:07 am

Do any of the Corner defenders on this thread understand that saying “I’m going to publish this tale that’s claiming that something happened” is putting the imprimatur of the group’s credibility on the tale?
——–
I suppose you didn’t notice that is exactly what all these posts are debating. Simply stating your opinion in a conclusory manner does not make you correct. Thank you for offering no support for your opinion.
My conclusory statement: Goldberg passing on an email he received to others who might be interested calls into question his own credibiltity no more than my own credibility is called into question when I repeat to my friends something someone else told me during the day, whether via speech or an internet forum.

Don’t be so desperate.

161

frankly0 02.04.04 at 2:11 am

A pretty incredible thread.

There’s this weird concept, which Katherine addresses, that NR is excused from journalistic standards because it’s an opinion journal. If this means that its stories should never be trusted, because they are not vetted, well, I guess that seems just about right, given its behavior. I wonder, though, if that is really how it wants to be perceived, or how its devoted readers want to perceive it.

The reality, however, is that it NEEDS to be perceived as observing some real journalistic standards, otherwise it would be largely worthless in its goal of influencing people. But what NR does, and so obviously Goldberg is doing, is to trade on its perception of some journalistic integrity in order to spread rumors and lies. This, of course, is precisely the function of the WSJ editorial page as well, which offered up one looney-tunes theory after another (Vince Foster was murdered by a race of lesbian Hilaries after abduction to the planet Lesbos, or some such) in service of the vast nut wing conspiracy. Some of these theories were cosmic, some unutterably trivial and petty, but they all had the same goal: tear down someone or something on the left.

Finally, I find it hard to believe that people can continue to credit Goldberg’s purported email. He has hinted that he knows who the author was, and finds him reliable, without, of course, quite saying that he does. Why can’t he just come out and say that he knows who the author is, if indeed he does? Not only does he NOT tell us who the author is, he doesn’t, so far as I can make out, explain why he can’t tell us who he is. I guess you have to be a totally gullible, ideologically crazed, fan not to find this suspicious in the extreme.

And I think that any objective person, looking at the Snopes anecdote, and looking at the story about Kerry, would conclude they are simply variants of one another. Both are about famous liberals standing in line, declaring, “Don’t you know who I am?”, then the clerk/proprietor coming up with a snappy answer putting them in their place (and there are many like examples you’ll dredge up by Googling).

Now, of course, you’re welcome to believe that this story is nonetheless likely true about Kerry. This is America, after all, and being stupid is every born fool’s right.

162

nitronora 02.04.04 at 3:14 am

A discussion about the importance of factuality/truth, that has been inspired by a plan to inundate (any media source) with phony stories, is absolutely breathtaking in it’s own dishonesty. How come this wasn’t started by the NRO site? Aren’t they the ones supposed to be lying?

163

son volt 02.04.04 at 4:19 am

People infer, propositions imply.

164

jcl 02.04.04 at 4:47 am

There’s this weird concept, which Katherine addresses, that NR is excused from journalistic standards because it’s an opinion journal. If this means that its stories should never be trusted, because they are not vetted, well, I guess that seems just about right, given its behavior. I wonder, though, if that is really how it wants to be perceived, or how its devoted readers want to perceive it.
——-
AGAIN – the Corner is not “journalism.” It is a blog for sharing opinions, ideas, websites, and, yes, even correspondence from readers.

That aside, even if NR had printed the email in its print edition or in a NRO article, they DID NOT violate any “ethics of journalism” – they did not conceal the fact that the source of the story was a reader email; they did not say, “we know this anecdote to be true,” “this comes from a highly reliable source,” or even “there is a good possibility that it is true.” (Yes, you can infer that last one from the posting). It wss left to the reader to judge the worth of the story – nothing prevented people from reaching their own conclusions and I fully agree that one could just as easily conclude that the story was concocted by the reader. BUT, this is not a breach of any kind of journalisn ethics and saying over and over that it is because you don’t like people speaking ill of Kerry or whatever does not make it so.

Yes, the story could be untrue (but it could also be true) – this does not equal an ethical breach. To suggest that a reporter, so much less an opinion columnist, cannot post anything without being absolutely convinced of its absolute truth is simply absurd…sorry guys.

165

jcl 02.04.04 at 4:52 am

Why can’t he just come out and say that he knows who the author is, if indeed he does? Not only does he NOT tell us who the author is, he doesn’t, so far as I can make out, explain why he can’t tell us who he is.
—–
Goldberg feels that his readers, even those who share stories, have better things to do than clear his inbox of 20,000,000 emails from pissed-off liberals saying that he should be nice to John Kerry or whoever.

166

jcl 02.04.04 at 4:54 am

…and I don’t know if you realize this, but using anonymous sources is a fairly standard journalistic practice; go to your local journalism school and try to argue that a failure to reveal the names of sources is an ethical breach. I doubt you’ll get far with (generally liberal) journalism professors on that one.

167

jcl 02.04.04 at 5:00 am

And I think that any objective person, looking at the Snopes anecdote, and looking at the story about Kerry, would conclude they are simply variants of one another.
—–
How the hell do you know what “any objective person” thinks; I don’t even know that you are an objective person. Try, “reasonable people can disagree.”

Moreover, the fact that a “do you know who I am” story is concocted does not mean that it never happens. My guess is that famous people and politicians (of all political persuasions) say it fairly frequently and use it to get special treatment. Your argument is like saying, “Some people have been framed for murder before, and this has been proven, therefore, murder does not occur.”

168

Eric 02.04.04 at 6:38 am

As a life long democrat and resident of Boston, I have never liked John Kerry. I’ve met him several times and there is this feeling of self importance that is off putting. I’m glad we have a democratic senator, but I would gladly have another. I’m surprised Kerry is considered more electable than any of the other candidates, just shocked really.

169

Keith M Ellis 02.04.04 at 8:15 am

Let this be a lesson to Ted. Pigs, wrestling…yadda yadda yadda. “The Corner’s” emails should be harshly criticized, but this isn’t the right way. Not for CT.

170

Motoko Kusanagi 02.04.04 at 8:34 am

Something tells me that this game is not new. I believe somebody has been playing it for years now with Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds.

171

Tads 02.04.04 at 9:20 am

brianBut we don’t need self-appointed commissioners of journalistic decency, especially those with political motivations, thank you very much… It’s hard enough deciding what to believe and what not to believe out there…just gumming up the works isn’t going to make that task any more enjoyable.

This sermon from a National Review reader!? Arrgghh…. cognitive dissonance… makes… brain… hurt…

It’s only through the work of dedicated bloggers and a few good journalists that publications like the NR are questioned at all. In previous years they and their scurrilous ilk were free to spread as much substantiated libel as their readers were able to absorb. These days they are both exposed and held accountable.

Truth and responsible journalism are the better for it.

172

Tads 02.04.04 at 9:32 am

jclGoldberg passing on an email he received to others who might be interested calls into question his own credibility no more than my own credibility is called into question when I repeat to my friends something someone else told me during the day, whether via speech or an internet forum. Don’t be so desperate.

Perhaps your analogy would work better if it had you racing around to 10,000 of your friends repeating the same story and admitting afterwards that it’s source was an internet mail from a person you’ve never met but is -certainly- truthful!

Doing so would make you look like a desperate partisan or a credulous moron, right?

173

Chris 02.04.04 at 2:45 pm

“Anectodal basis: you would have a very hard time finding any conservatives in the colleges of comp sci at NU, MIT, Harvard, and BU.”

I remember otherwise. A bold assertion, nonetheless.

“Real statistics coming soon.”

How soon? I’d appreciate no less than corroboration or a retraction from someone who moves in such rarefied journalistic company.

Thanks.

174

Chris 02.04.04 at 3:01 pm

Timber folks, I have a suggestion for you that I think would allow you to get on with your lives with less wailing, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments:

Imagine the Corner to be a spirited cocktail party, with people (whose company you don’t necessarily enjoy) swapping facts, opinions, anecdotes, and tales. I think that is the spirit in which the Corner is offered, and I think that it is counterproductive to imagine it otherwise for the (I admit: probably enjoyable) feeling of self-righteous indignation that it might provide.

175

Hesiod 02.04.04 at 3:09 pm

“Goldberg noted that the emails are not annonymous to him – he can check with the source. He only leaves the name and address off so that people who have better things to do don’t have to deal with “The Attack of Ten Thousand Liberal Bloggers.” In other words, simply sending an annonymous email is now a tip-off to NRO that the this site or others like it is the source. Have fun.”

Who says that the e-mails themselves will be anonymous? The contest to to see who can get NRO to stupidly publish a phony anecdote.

One of the ways you do that is by giving your name so that they can “verify” that you are a real person, etc.

I guarantee you that if someone really wanted to, they could punk Goldberg. In fact, if it’s done once, and exposed, NRO’s credibility will be shot forever. Thus, they will cease and desist the anonymous evil anecdote spreading. In fact, they will be opening themselves up to libel lawsuits if they don’t perform due diligence and publish accusations without attribution. Especialy since they are now on notice that a significant percentage of such e-mails might be fraudlent.

Which, of course, is the whole point.

And, forgive me if I don’t take Jonah Goldberg’s, or Rich Lowry’s or Katherine Jean Lopez’ “word” that these are genuine anecdotes.

The Republicans are notorious for maksing “stuff” up about their opponents and spreading those rumors in the substrata of a campaign. Bush’s people, especially. They did it to John McCain in 2000. (i.e. He’s mentally unstable due to his stint in a POW camp. He fathered a “black” child out of wedlock — an especially ironic attack in S. Carolina given Strom Thurmon’d aknowledhed issue — etc.)

Some wingnuts were even accusing McCain of being brainwashed by the Communists, and of being a “Manchurian candidate.”

The higher ups in the GOP and the Bush campaign will never say these things, because they want to keep their hands clean. But Bush didn’t exactly disavow them during the campaign either.

They are already pulling this stuff with John Kerry, accusing him of being a communist sympathizer during the Vietnam era. They are also spreading rumors that he inflated his exploits in Vietnam and received those medals fraudulently.

It’s sickening. Yet, the GOP is whining about the Democrats raising legitimate questions about Bush’s military record (which Bush will not release in full), and his credibility on that issue. It’s well-documeted that he flat out lied about his service in his book “A Charge to Keep.”

I say, let’s fight it out on the issues, for a change. That way it will be a Democratic landslide in November.

176

Hesiod 02.04.04 at 3:17 pm

“Goldberg feels that his readers, even those who share stories, have better things to do than clear his inbox of 20,000,000 emails from pissed-off liberals saying that he should be nice to John Kerry or whoever.”

What does that have to do with Goldberg publicly vouching for this anonymous person’s credibility?

The obvious answer is, it doesn’t. It’s nothing but straw man B.S.

And if Goldberg is unwilling to say: “I can’t tell you this person’s name because I promised them confidentiality, but they are in a good position to know this information, and I trust them,” then he has absolutely no business publishing the damn e-mail in the first place.

He’s simply hiding behind New York Times v Sullivan to slander Democrats. Pure and simple.

177

Chris 02.04.04 at 3:43 pm

“I say, let’s fight it out on the issues, for a change.”

Of course, you must be correct. It is only the right and Republicans who are such evil-doers.

The Democrats or the left would never, of course, run an ad against Bush implying that he condoned a lynching in Texas.

They would never, ever, run an ad against a Republican insinuating that he was gay since he was formerly a hairdresser.

Or have 600,000 registered voters in heavily Democratic Detroit where only 450,000 were eligible. The Democrats have *always* been above those kind of electoral shenanigans.

Or run an ad on national television implying that Goldwater wanted to start a nuclear war.

Or let leak Bush’s DUI conviction a couple of days before the election.

Obviously, the higher ups in the Democratic party will never say these things, because they want to keep their hands clean.

I find your faith in your own purity touching.

178

Hipocrite 02.04.04 at 5:19 pm

Brian writes that Software Development is subsidised just like Agriculture.

Of course, he’s lying. See, while you can go do government work developing software, or get government grants to develop software, what you can’t do is develop software and just demand the government give you money.

How much of Oracle’s money came from throwing software away?
How much of ADM’s money came from throwing vegtables away?

Thanks.

179

jcl 02.04.04 at 6:00 pm

Perhaps your analogy would work better if it had you racing around to 10,000 of your friends repeating the same story and admitting afterwards that it’s source was an internet mail from a person you’ve never met but is certainly truthful!
——-
Here’s the problem: Goldberg did not “admit afterwards” the source was a reader email, he said that upfront…which would be the same as me telling my story to 10,000 friends, but telling each of them upfront the source of the story. Goldberg didn’t hide anything from you other than the guy’s name and email address, which you don’t have any business knowing if the guy dosen’t want you to know anyway…so get over it; you’re perfectly free to think that the story is bogus, but this argument that this a breach of journalist ethics is garbage.

180

jcl 02.04.04 at 6:09 pm

What does that have to do with Goldberg publicly vouching for this anonymous person’s credibility?
—-
He didn’t vouch for the story being true. He said that he himself found it believeable (not the same thing as saying something is true) and let others make up their own minds

And if Goldberg is unwilling to say: “I can’t tell you this person’s name because I promised them confidentiality, but they are in a good position to know this information, and I trust them,” then he has absolutely no business publishing the damn e-mail in the first place.
—–
Why? because you say so? People can’t decide for themselves whether to believe something Goldberg says he finds at least within the realm of possiblity. Who are you to tell people what they have any business posting ON THEIR BLOG? Sonnds like your real problem is in “allowing” people to make up thier own minds – I’m still waiting for someone to come up with something more than blind ideological attacks on NR.

181

jcl 02.04.04 at 6:15 pm

How much of Oracle’s money came from throwing software away?
How much of ADM’s money came from throwing vegtables away?
—–

Your acting as if gov’t subsidies are a Republican issue; farm subsidies started with FDR and the New Deal. Many conservatives were upset that Bush supported increases in farm payouts. Acting like liberals have a problem with governemtn subsidies to A LOT of different groups (Ha!) is either extraordinarily naive or quite disingenuous. The particlars of payouts in this case (Computer Programmers) does not change that fact.

182

Mark 02.04.04 at 6:24 pm

And if you have an unsubstantiated story about snorting coke with, or selling coke to, our current President, I’d be happy to post them at my site.

183

Hipocrite 02.04.04 at 6:39 pm

JCL argues that Democrats like subsidies also, so it’s OK to throw money at the farmers!

In 2002, $1,073,167,886 was spent on Rice subsidies alone, going to 34,888 people at an average subsidy of $30,760.

In 2002, $18,257,100,000 was spent on the food stamp program. Clearly, this is so much worse. Of course, that went to 19,094,000 people, at an average subsidy of $79.68.

Clearly, ADM needs the $30,760 so much more than someone needs $80 in food.

184

good lord 02.04.04 at 7:05 pm

vroosterat –

The simple fact is that they are not interchangeable, 4th definition by one source be damned! ;-) After a quick websearch, I see that Oliver Strunk, the Columbia Journalism Review, and nearly every other usage website I got from Google agrees (not interchangeable). I also note that dictionary.com’s definitions for “imply” don’t include “infer.” Please, do some good in the world and use these terms correctly – we’ve devolved enough.

PS – I’m a big 8th grader now.

185

Sigivald 02.04.04 at 8:22 pm

Hi, Hesiod!

Republicans are “infamous” for “making things up”?

I imagine, then, that this is somehow a phenomenon limited to the “right”, rather than, as I had imagined, a non-partisan phenomenon linked to True Belief in one’s side being correct, and to politics being a frightfully dirty thing?

Thanks for clearing that up. Now I know it’s really a special sin of conservatives/republicans/etc. (See chris’s more spirited reply, above.)

(On another topic: “The speaker implies – the listener infers.”, so saith the Aardvark.)

186

Dave from the Lake Effect Zone 02.04.04 at 8:48 pm

Let’s do this one better – get actual letters from Penthouse Forum, change the names to include the Democratic candidate of your choice, bcc this blog, and see if NRO takes the bait.

187

ahem 02.04.04 at 9:04 pm

Imagine the Corner to be a spirited cocktail party

Nah: let’s imagine it to be a bunch of wittering wingers. Actually, that doesn’t need any imagination.

188

Ken C. 02.04.04 at 9:26 pm

“Republicans are “infamous” for “making things up”?”

No, impossible. We all know that Vincent Foster was murdered by Hitlery, after Bill fathered a child by a black mother, and Max Cleland was in league with Saddam, and lesbians are responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and the CIA gave bad information that Saddam wasn’t an imminent threat, until they gave bad information that Saddam *was* an imminent threat, and Al Gore said that he invented the internet, and Bill Clinton blocked LAX getting a haircut, and Ronald Reagan liberated concentration camps in WWII, and Tom Delay couldn’t join up to serve in Vietnam because all the places were taken by minorities, and George Bush never went AWOL, and tax cuts solve every problem, and Elian was saved by dolphins, and Paul Wellstone’s memorial was a political rally, and Bill O’Reilly won a Peabody, and Saddam was behind 9/11, and the Supreme Court decided the 2000 election on the legal merits, and Ken Lay slept in the White House during Clinton’s term, and Clinton’s staff trashed the White House on their way out, and Bush’s budget numbers are meaningful, and there were threats to Air Force One on 9/11, and trees create carbon monoxide, and on and on and on.

Republicans never make shit up, not at all.

189

Michelle Dulak 02.04.04 at 9:56 pm

Whoever (far up above) compared NRO’s publishing reader email to a print newspaper’s printing letters to the editor had it exactly right. A newspaper generally gets far more letters than it can publish. It selects some and runs them, and I’ve never heard of their being fact-checked (apart from verification of the sender’s identity, and usually not even that).

And the selection is obviously not random; how could it be? Editors look for letters that raise interesting points. In a print newspaper they also generally try to get some diversity of opinion; that’s why in my local “big” paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, there are always one or two right-leaning letters every day to balance the left-leaning large majority. (I’m not complaining; the proportions accurately reflect the beliefs of the readership, though sometimes I darkly suspect the Chron of picking the dumbest right-leaning letters it can find in the daily mailbag.)

NRO is a conservative magazine, and doesn’t have even to pretend to pick out “letters to the editor(s)” in a nonpartisan manner, so I don’t understand what all the commotion is about. Insist on fact-checking of letters to the editor in print media, and then you will have a case for insisting on same at NRO. Not practical? The Corner is a blog, and moves quicker even than a daily. If the dailies can’t do this, why should NRO?

One other thing: several people have cited Snopes in an attempt to prove that Kerry can’t have behaved as alleged because a story of some other liberal figure doing the same thing was debunked. Does it occur to any of you that the reason it’s so easy to make up fictional accounts of such behavior is that the reality is so common? I don’t mean liberal bigwigs in particular presuming that they should get special treatment; I mean bigwigs of any sort. Most of us have seen it happen, one way or another. It makes it hard to sort out the true and the false stories; but I would be very reluctant to call a story of this kind false just because there have been exactly similar stories about other people that did prove false.

190

Vroosterat Amethozene 02.04.04 at 10:18 pm

Imply not infer. All right, all right…Nobody’s perfect (It is fun watching it spiral out of control though ;) I’m just glad no one commented on my earlier typo. That conversation might have lasted for days.

By the way, “devolved” is not a real word.

I’m just kidding…

BTW Not bad for an 8th grader…

191

GMT 02.04.04 at 10:47 pm

The best part about this thread is that, drawing so many from Over There, you Limies can finally see what we have to put up with Over Here. All we had to do was force-feed their sewer and up they pop, full of fury and, … well, fury and stuff, that anyone would such Fisking attention to the latest well funded round of Smear the Non-kleptocrat.

192

GMT 02.04.04 at 10:50 pm

draw? bring? attract?
–dammit

193

Dan 02.05.04 at 3:31 am

And then we can make up data sets to send to paul krugman at the New York Times. The first person to have statistics from a fabricated data set wins a correction on the Op/ED page

194

ahem 02.05.04 at 3:39 am

The Corner is a blog, and moves quicker even than a daily.

Nah: it just moves quicker than one’s bowels after a chicken vindaloo.

195

Michelle Dulak 02.05.04 at 4:08 am

ahem:

Hey. I like vindaloo. (Too hot for you? Stay out of my kitchen.)

196

Michelle Dulak 02.05.04 at 4:08 am

ahem:

Hey. I like vindaloo. (Too hot for you? Stay out of my kitchen.)

197

jcl 02.05.04 at 6:05 am

JCL argues that Democrats like subsidies also, so it’s OK to throw money at the farmers!
——
I don’t argue that they are OK – I think the farm subsidies should be ended, as well as a whole assload of gov’t programs – some supported by Dems, some by Republicans. My only point is that pretending like gov’t subsidies are particular to one party is moronic.

198

jcl 02.05.04 at 6:09 am

No, impossible. We all know that Vincent Foster was murdered by Hitlery, after Bill fathered a child by a black mother, and Max Cleland was in league with Saddam, and lesbians are responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and the CIA gave bad information that Saddam wasn’t an imminent threat, until they gave bad information that Saddam was an imminent threat, and Al Gore said that he invented the internet, and Bill Clinton blocked LAX getting a haircut, and Ronald Reagan liberated concentration camps in WWII, and Tom Delay couldn’t join up to serve in Vietnam because all the places were taken by minorities, and George Bush never went AWOL, and tax cuts solve every problem, and Elian was saved by dolphins, and Paul Wellstone’s memorial was a political rally, and Bill O’Reilly won a Peabody, and Saddam was behind 9/11, and the Supreme Court decided the 2000 election on the legal merits, and Ken Lay slept in the White House during Clinton’s term, and Clinton’s staff trashed the White House on their way out, and Bush’s budget numbers are meaningful, and there were threats to Air Force One on 9/11, and trees create carbon monoxide, and on and on and on.

Republicans never make shit up, not at all.
——
This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Please discontinue any posts about the “collective brainpower” of this site. Seriously.

199

jcl 02.05.04 at 6:39 am

Seriously, the people on this page need to sit back, take a breath, and get over themselves. Liberals, please accept the fact that people can disagree with you – marketplace of ideas and all that. Many liberals I know make a big deal about seeing the nuances of issues, moral realitivism, etc. But as soon as a conservative is involved, it becomes the war or the stupid vs the intelligent, the bigoted vs the enlightened, the compassionate vs the callous, etc. In other words, black and white, right and wrong, good vs evil. Guess what, you can disagree with someone’s positions, or even on your opinion of certain people, without seeing them as the forces of darkness. Trust me, you don’t have all the answers and neither do I. How about a civilized debate on the issues rather than “NR [or conservatives or Bush or whatever] is the source of all evil and everything they print/say is a lie.” That kind of stuff just makes it look like you are afraid/don’t have the brainpower to confront the actual issues. As far as the Kerry story goes, you don’t know it to be untrue any more than I know it to be true. Do you really think one political ideology has a monopoly on truth? Do you really think there is only one viewpoint reasonable people can hold? You belie your cliams to intelligence with your conspiracy theory garbage; it’s so much easier to take pot shots at those who disagree with you and to see them as liars, etc. rather than to accept the messy reality that truth doesn’t follow an ideology. I know the go team, us vs them mentality can be fun, but sooner or later you gotta join the grown-ups in the real world.

200

ahem 02.05.04 at 2:12 pm

hey, jcl: we’ll start paying attention to you when you learn how to quote properly in comments.

201

Nick 02.05.04 at 4:32 pm

I assume that this guy gets his Amazon gift certificate, right?

202

Michelle Dulak 02.05.04 at 5:54 pm

ahem: It would appear that you’re paying attention to him already, yes?

203

Big Bob 02.05.04 at 6:10 pm

Oh my! More anonymous recklessness!
In a newspaper no less! Apparently Jonah wasn’t careless, he was just ahead of his time.

http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/17337.htm

204

Tim 02.07.04 at 4:24 pm

Hey! Michelles and jcl,
I think the whole point here is that the media in general not just the NRO, has for sometime now been reporting/repeating what others have said in posts and email and articles and on tv that get no-other scrutiny than to say that this is what so and so said or it was in an email or it was from an anonymous source. This is not good journalism. It used to be that before one organization or reporter would repeat something it needed to be varified at least to some degree. But, as it is now in most of the media it is just repeated as being fom another source with no investigating of the claim at all. Again this is not journalism it is gosip.
I think this is mostly due to the fact that a lot of the media is now looking to entertain their audiences rather than inform them.
This has led to the dismisal of good reporters in favor of good entertainers.
I could go on to state that the media is biased toward the right in most of the news and print. However there are growing numbers of liberal outlets poping up everywhere. So it may do you good to try and find one you like rather
than be critical of this one.
It is apparent to me that you are just another one of those people whose vote got counted in 2000.
And now your so pissed off because you know you were/are lied to by bush and his cronies. And I could go on and on and on,,,,,,,,I could try to reason you out of the position you are in,,,,however I learned a long time ago that you can not reason a person out of a position that they did not reason themselves into in the first place

And on and on and on

Bush is Sauron!
Save the shire!

205

Anthony 02.09.04 at 10:41 pm

And of course, Hesoid believes that only liberals ought to be able to hide behind NYT v Sullivan to slander their opponents.

206

Melvin 02.12.04 at 3:17 am

Liberalism is becoming alot like communism, becoming extinct.
I imagine most of you will be waving your little red Chairman Mao books in the not so distant future.
Power to the party comrade Ted, you are just so darn clever and orginal.

Oh, I almost forgot you Democratic Liberal Socialists don’t quit yur day jobs.

207

Crank 02.18.04 at 9:13 pm

So, is this a hoax? (See here as well). Does this Dave Barry guy really exist, or did the Miami Herald make him up?

208

james ballot 02.20.04 at 9:20 pm

Dennis Kucinich: Use Chico’s soap, no give back.

209

Morgan Kint 02.27.04 at 4:01 am

Might as well punk the Utne Reader, The Nation, New Republic, and other like minded bird cage fodder rags. Amazing hoiw many letters posted in those rags are from “supposed” reality-based individuals.

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