Fat Steve's Blatherings

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Can't Get It?  Or Won't?

      Yesterday, Hugh Hewitt had Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal on his radio program, and the transcript of the exchange is here.  Stephens is remarkable for his blindness.  Does he really not get the issues involved, or is he simply refusing to address them?

      The interview started with a good question from Hewitt, 'Was the panel off the record?', to which Stephens replies, 'I didn't think so.'  Glad to have confirmation of Rebecca MacKinnon's statement that everything in those rooms was supposed to be on record.

      But early on, Stephens shows his problems: complete mental inflexibility, self-righteousness, and double standards.  He says:
First of all, there's an argument that somehow I was soft on Eason Jordan. I don't know how any fair-minded reader of my February 10th piece can think that this is a piece that is soft on the guy.

      Hmm, just a thought, but why don't you ask some of the people who criticized you why they think you were soft on Jordan?  I thought that was basic journalism.  And I note that you say:
Now at a minimum, it would seem to me that Mr. Morrisey had an obligation to call me up maybe before he republished that and say, "Well, hey. Is this fair? Am I quoting some crank here? Or do you have anything to say before I quote this?" This is what we here at the Wall Street Journal try to do. If someone is going to get attacked, and attacked really viciously, I think there is an obligation to give the other guy a chance to give his side of the story.

      Have you tried talking to any of the people who have criticized you, Mr. Stephens.

      Stephens makes much of the fact that he reported on Jordan's remarks.  What did he say in that report?  Who knows?  It went out only to people who subscribe to the Journal's "Political Diary."  With all the fuss about who said what, with the WSJ writing two different editorials on bloggers and their reactions to the Easongate "kerfuffle," why not bring it out from behind the subscription wall and let us see what you said at the time?

      Stephens said on the program that the WSJ was criticizing only those who "campaigned against Mr. Jordan."  And that would be whom?  He never says.  Why not?

      Hewitt brought up Jordan's Nov. 2004 claim of the military arresting and torturing journalists, and asks Stephens what he thinks.  Uh, nothing.  Stephens won't take a position, or comment on the fact that, with nearly three months since this claim was made, CNN has never run a story on it.

      I lack patience to go on.  Suffice it to say his entire attitude can be summed up as 'We have been infallible in reporting this story, and in evaluating its significance.  Anyone who dares question us is a moron.  Shut up and get with the program.'  At the same time, Stephens keeps saying 'Everyone goofs occasionally.'  Indeed they do.  If, at any time, you'd said 'Hmm, maybe I am the one that's wrong,' a productive dialogue might have resulted.

      Sad.  Get over yourselves, media people.



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