Monday, July 23, 2007

Howie, Half-Baked

The thing I love about Howie Kurtz's little chit-chats is that he posts good questions and then pretends to answer them without actually answering them:

San Francisco: Your article concerning allegations of false war reporting by a psuedonymous solider in the pages of The New Republic was interesting. The New Republic has a history of publishing plagiarists and fakers, including Stephen Glass and Ruth Shalit. I note, however, that you quoted critics of the TNR pieces who have their own questionable histories. Surely you are aware that Michael Yon, a right-wing blogger, has been reporting that al-Qaeda is engaging in forced cannibalism in Iraq. Quoting directly from Yon: "The boy had been baked. Al Qaeda served the boy to his family." (National Review Online, July 6) National Review Online and other right-wing blogs have been repeating these stories as the truth; progressive bloggers have challenged these assertions, which are inherently incredible. Why no mention of those challenged reports from Iraq?

Howard Kurtz: I made clear, and the editor of the New Republic made clear, that these challenges are coming from the right and might have an ideological motivation. That doesn't make them wrong, however, at least in this instance. Right-wing bloggers went after Dan Rather on the Memogate fiasco and left-wing bloggers went after White House correspondent Jeff Gannon. Sometimes the truth emerges from these attacks, and sometimes not.

So Howie doesn't know whether The New Republic is right or wrong, but he's supremely uninterested in the accuracy and veracity of those challenging The New Republic. If he's not going to investigate the TNR story himself, you'd think he'd want to at least look at the respective credibility of both sides.

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