Journalists At Work

Over at The Corner, they’re having fun at the expense of the New York Times. The Times did a story on Thursday about parents’ opposition to President Obama’s speech to schoolchildren. The Times blamed the usual suspects:

Mr. Obama’s speech was announced weeks ago, but the furor among conservatives reached a fever pitch Wednesday morning as right-wing Web sites and talk show hosts began inveighing against it.

Exhibit A was Mark Steyn:

Mark Steyn, a Canadian author and political commentator, speaking on the Rush Limbaugh show on Wednesday, accused Mr. Obama of trying to create a cult of personality, comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader.

Steyn replied yesterday in his weekend column:

Here’s what I said on Wednesday re dear old Saddam and Kim: “Obviously we’re not talking about the cult of personality on the Saddam Hussein/Kim Jong-Il scale.”
Close enough for Times work.

I doubt that the Times will issue a correction; most likely it will say that its article was technically correct: Steyn did compare the Obama cult of personality to that of Kim and Saddam. He said they were completely different. Of course, that’s not how anyone reading the article would understand the sentence.
Still, this little episode sheds additional light on the Times’s news judgment. Mark Steyn mentions Barack Obama and Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-Il in adjoining sentences: it’s news! A senior government official says America deserved to be attacked on September 11; the September 11 attacks were orchestrated by the federal government; he wants to destroy the free enterprise system; white environmentalists and polluters steer poisons into minority communities; Republicans oppose President Obama’s policies because they are “a******s;” Israel has been illicitly “occupying” Arab lands since 1948–I know, it’s only a partial list–it’s not news!
I think you can define pretty clearly the perspective from which that news judgment makes sense.

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