Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Baquets All The Way Down

...apparently, the elite political media is so banjaxed on the subject of civility and what they consider to be fairness that the president* could have said we have three million judges and half of them are Martians, and he would be said to be only “obfuscating” or “exaggerating,” especially about the number of Martians.

I mention this because, in an un-bylined piece on Monday, Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the Times, tied himself in a sheepshank trying to explain the rules under which his newspaper would call a lie a lie. (The piece was unbylined because Baquet did away with the job of NYT public editor over a year ago.) From the NYT:
The word “lie” is very powerful. For one thing, it assumes that someone knew the statement was false. Another reason to use the word judiciously is that our readers could end up focusing more on our use of the word than on what was said. And using “lie” repeatedly could feed the mistaken notion that we’re taking political sides. That’s not our role. Of course, even when we don’t say “lie,” we try to make it very clear to readers if a politician says something false, and to present the evidence showing that the statement isn’t true.
Can you figure out what the standard is? I can’t. “We’ll demonstrate that it’s a lie but we won’t call it a lie because our readers might be confused if we call a lie a lie”? The real problem for all the rest of us is that, if you don’t call a lie for what it is, you can’t reasonably evaluate the motive the president* might have for telling it in the first place, and then persisting in it later.
The reason I pulled this portion of Brother Pierce's estimable efforts was that I had a fairly involved conversation with the editors of our local paper on the subject of why "editorial discretion" on the op-ed page always amounted to nothing more than giving Republican liars and lunatics a pass.

It was perfectly civil, but it was also perfectly, depressingly predictable.

And I can faithfully report that it's Baquets all the way down.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


jim said...

Can tell Charlie's royally pissed from the banjaxing reference.
He has a ridiculously purty mouth.

Unknown said...

All of the rationalizations and logical contortions of the editors for justifying their reticence to use the word "lie" can be boiled down into a single statement

"Republicans will shoot us if they don't like what we say; Liberals won't."