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November 15, 2005

TODAY THE WHITE HOUSE IS fact-checking the New York Times.

These things just keep coming. Did they hire Ken "fact-check your ass" Layne or something? We'll know if one of these White House posts concludes: "We have computers. It is not difficult to Find You Out, dig?"

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Matt Welch is dissing me and Stephen Green for having the temerity to suggest that it's wrong for the press to peddle falsehoods about the war. I'm literally on the plane, waiting for them to close the door and make me shut off the computer, so my response will have to be brief. But first, I think my prediction that press irresponsibility and bias would have repercussions for press freedom has been borne out. The Times, still thinking (as in so many things) that it's 1978, initially expected a huge pro-First Amendment backlash on behalf of Judy Miller, and was surprised when it got no more from its repeated editorials than Howell Raines and Martha Burk got in the way of protesters at Augusta National. Why? People don't think of the press as a secular priesthood of truth any more, even if some segments of the press still do. As for my linkage to a blog post on how the military sees the press's role in the war, well, a more diplomatic, but not that different, take can be found in this article from Parameters, the journal of the Army War College, where the media are referred to as "simplistic," "pejorative," and biased, and generally regarded as an obstacle to getting the job done right.

As I've said here before, I don't mind reporting about problems. (I've done it myself, with regard to the war crimes originally reported by Zeyad, problems with CERP, etc. Reporting on things taht are actually going wrong, without the "see, Bush is horrible!" spin, and false facts, that we're getting elsewhere, is actually helpful, and we could use more of it. It would, however, be work, and it might help Bush out, which is apparently unforgivable.) Reporting that is dishonest, or deliberately misleading -- and there's a lot of that -- is different. By treating complaints about dishonest and politically motivated reporting as the equivalent of complaints about simply reporting bad news, Welch is attacking a straw man.