A reading of Brian Lambert

I am afraid that John is overly harsh on Brian Lambert for overlooking our posts on Tim Pawlenty’s withdrawal in his MinnPost Daily Glean column. Although Lambert missed the mark yesterday, his twice-a-day column highlighting news coverage with a local angle is usually worth reading. He has a good eye and covers a lot of territory.

To take one example, Lambert’s column provided a valuable guide to coverage of the battle over the Minnesota government shutdown this summer. Brian quoted at length from both John’s and my commentary on Power Line, with a minimum of his usual snark and with some insight of his own. He certainly read my commentary fairly. I looked to his columns for a reality check on my own commentary.

Brian missed our posts when he wrote that we had failed to comment on Pawlenty’s withdrawal. It was a mistake that can happen to anyone working quickly, as Lambert necessarily does. I wrote him yesterday to bring the posts to his attention. He promptly responded: “Those were up last night? I can’t explain how I missed them, since — as an avid reader — I went looking specifically for something from you guys on Pawlenty.”

I think John misreads Brian’s comment on Iowa’s “all-important” straw poll. John cites his own dissenting view on the importance of the straw poll, but I don’t think Lambert purported to be expressing John’s view at that point in his column. And John takes Lambert’s comment straight, but I take it as an example of Lambert’s snark. I would guess that Lambert agrees with John on the underlying absurdity of the event. In any event, the straw poll’s absurdity to the contrary notwithstanding, it proved all-important for Tim Pawlenty.

A final point on MinnPost itself. It is a liberal site, written by liberals for liberals, though adhering to standards of traditional journalism. As a liberal site with journalistic standards, it occasionally provides a useful counterpoint to the Star Tribune. Thanks to the efforts of Jay Weiner, for example, MinnPost’s coverage of the Coleman-Franken recount was, in my view, the best in town by a long shot. It was both detailed and fair.

UPDATE: In his column this morning, Lambert says I chided him for not seeing either of two Power Line posts regarding Pawlenty’s withdrawal. I think that makes me sound petty. Lambert does not correct his inaccurate statement that we had failed to comment on Pawlenty’s withdrawal. Rather, Lambert seems to leave it an open question whether we did or not. He only acknowledges that I say both posts were up Sunday. He is apparently not capable of confirming the fact.

If I was chiding Lambert when I emailed him, it was for writing falsely that we hadn’t commented on Pawlenty’s withdrawal, not for missing the posts. I think that’s slightly different in a way that makes me appear less petty.

BRIAN LAMBERT responds:

It may be that I’m incapable of as delicate phrasing as this situation requires…but as a transitive verb, “chided,” in this case seems appropriate in that yours was a mild, polite reproach for an error on my part. I certainly take no offense and appreciate when anyone points out an inaccuracy. While there is a tongue in cheek quality to my Glean comments, the primary objective of the column is to give readers a fair sense of the news of the day and who is saying what.

JOHN adds: Scott is characteristically generous toward both Mr. Lambert and MinnPost. I don’t have anything against Lambert and don’t read him often enough to have much of an opinion on the quality of his work. I do think, however, that someone who adheres to standards of traditional journalism, which is how Scott describes MinnPost, wouldn’t have asserted groundlessly that Power Line is secretly funded by a former chairman of the Minnesota GOP–this in the course of saying that I “fl[ung] some special venom” in a post.

SCOTT adds: John, I think in that case MinnPost was adhering to the standards of traditional journalism as practiced by the Star Tribune.

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