7/24/10

What Journalists are Supposed to Do

Update 7/31:  here

This post is mighty puzzling.  The worst part is what we might call "the blue principle."  Ophelia writes it in blue (twice) just to make sure we don't miss it.

“Journalists” are supposed to expose their “sources” if they use the journalist to perpetrate a fraud.

Suppose a journalist did think he'd been used to perpetrate a fraud (that's not necessarily what Chris Mooney thinks, of course).   Should they mechanically conclude--"now I must expose the source"?  Of course not.  The blue principle is grossly simplistic. Journalists have to think about the nature of the fraud--how serious? All frauds are not alike.  It's relevant how the source would be affected by exposure--all sorts of things are possible.  In some scenarios, it might be relevant whether the source is valuable and reliable on some other matter.  It might matter how old the source is, or how mentally disturbed, or how rich, or how poor...a thousand things could be relevant.  So--blue principle? Nonsense.

The fraud in this instance (if there is one, and we don't actually know for sure) seems enormous to some people. It seems like a huge thing to leave a story out there, in doubt but not disconfirmed, that says some new atheists confront and insult religious people in person, at conservation events.  Of course, it goes without saying that some atheists do confront and insult religious people in books, articles, websites, public talks, on TV, and on the radio.  But if someone says "in person," that simply can't be left standing. Some people think it's worth exposing this student, no matter what the consequences for him, to get to the bottom of this.  But I think that's grossly imbalanced. The difference this story makes to the image of atheists is minuscule.  The difference exposure could make to the student is huge.  Ethics requires us to think about that.


Update 7/25 10 am:  People (elsewhere) are exercised about "not disconfirmed."  No, I'm not invested in getting people to think "Tom Johnson's" obnoxious-atheists-at-conservation-meeting story may be true. My point in this post is that it doesn't matter a whole lot whether it's true.  So it's not worth messing up someone's life (forever, with an internet expose that will never go away) to find out for sure  But OK: people are curious.  Did it happen?  I think mystery student offered Chris Mooney very credible corroboration for his story in October 2009.  Much of that still holds up, but some of it now seems very fishy. So (to my mind): low probability the story is true.   On the other hand,  I don't buy the theory that the story was so implausible on its face that Chris Mooney should have immediately dismissed all the corroboration. Even the best journalists can be duped.  But I want to be cautious--I don't have access to all relevant information.  I simply don't know the whole truth. 

Update 7/25 2:30 pm:  Jerry Coyne now presents evidence that the story is false, without exposing the student's identity.  Maybe it will also come out how the student corroborated his story in a long, deceptive email to Chris Mooney.  Stay tuned.


46 comments:

amos said...

I'm not a journalist, but I worked as one for many years. Sources use journalists all the time; that's the nature of the business. They use journalists to put across their own particular, often distorted, viewpoint and at times to put across outright lies and frauds.
One reason that a journalist does not expose his sources is that he or she wants to maintain a relationship with a source, even if that source is not 100% honest or reliable: few people are 100% honest and reliable. Another reason is that if the journalist exposes the source, the source's reputation, career, honor or physical integrity may be in danger, even if the source is not honest. Journalists write articles: they are not in the business of handing out certificates of honesty to those whom they talk to. A good journalist should, in general, be able to capture what information he receives is reliable or what is not, but journalism tends to be a rushed affair and there is not always time to check things out in the way that an academic can.

Faust said...

When Anne Coulter and Glenn Greenwald agree on something, it's time to consider the issue carefully.

Ken Pidcock said...

The issue here is not the identity of the source, but the veracity of the claim. All of this would go away if the meeting at which these not disconfirmed incidents occurred were identified along with corroborating witnesses.

tomh said...

In some scenarios, it might be relevant whether the source is valuable and reliable on some other matter.

Do you suppose this is the case with Tom Johnson? That Mooney won't identify him because he is a valuable resource on other matters?

Brian said...

One very relevant piece of information is the scammer created still more lies in his "coming clean" confession, lies designed to keep people from finding out who he is.

If it at that point of maximum anguish, he still thought it better to actively lie rather than passively hope he's not tracked down, then I don't have much sympathy for him.

Gurdur said...

tomh said...

"Do you suppose this is the case with Tom Johnson? That Mooney won't identify him because he is a valuable resource on other matters?"

No, it's most likely because Mooney simply has an element of decency. No-one has an actual right to TomJohnson's real identity.

If Ophelia Benson really has a claim TomJohnson made libellous remarks about her, then she could take the internet host of the remarks to court. If PZ Myers really has a case about the gravity of the false claim TJ made, then he can go to court.

Of course, any such case would be thrown out of court and laughed at, as being wildly out of proportionality to the offence.

But hey. Nothing binds the faithful together so much as a good witch-hunt or lynching.

Jean Kazez said...

Brian, I see your point, but those final lies were just designed to cover up his identity. They weren't new lies intended to smear anyone though inadvertently he did smear Chris Mooney.

tomh, No, not at all. The point is that the blue principle is absurdly simplistic. I was thinking of a variety of counterexamples, some having no connection to this case.

tomh said...

Of course, it goes without saying that some atheists do confront and insult religious people in books, articles, websites, public talks, on TV, and on the radio.

Well, if by "confront and insult" you mean that people write books criticizing religious ideas and use reason and evidence to counter various religions' wildly different claims about the nature of the world and the way to discover the truth about it, well then, I guess they do. But to equate this with the admitted falsehoods of Tom Johnson, for example, the phony claim that atheists "mock the religious to their face, shout forced laughter at them, and call them “stupid,” “ignorant” and the like…", that just seems a bit odd.

Gurdur said...

TomH wrote:

"Well, if by "confront and insult" you mean that people write books criticizing religious ideas and use reason and evidence to counter various religions' wildly different claims about the nature of the world and the way to discover the truth about it, well then, I guess they do. But to equate this with the admitted falsehoods of Tom Johnson, for example, the phony claim that atheists "mock the religious to their face, shout forced laughter at them, and call them “stupid,” “ignorant” and the like…", that just seems a bit odd."

No, TomH. How about clear, empty, childish abuse?

Such as when PZ Myers calls someone a "witless wanker", or calls for what amounts to a 1984 Two-Minutes' Hate session.

PZ Myers does rather make a habit of such things, doesn't he? General childish abuse from the safety of his keyboard, whipping up the mob, so forth and so on.

And I find it wildly hysterical that on one blog post Ophelia Benson tries to mock Phil Plait's call for greater sticking to the point instead of empty abuse, while on another blog post -- actually, tons of them -- she whips herself into a frenzy about the abuse by TomJohnson.

Something about her double-standards is quite amusing.

Care to explain that mismatch?

Brian said...

Jean, the lies come too easily to this guy when he thinks they might be useful. While it may not have been too much to ask him to reveal his identity, at the least he didn't have to further pollute the discourse. He should've said nothing about who he really is.

BTW, I give a 50% chance I figured out who he is. If you think of how he could've fooled Chris with accurate info, it gives one possibility. Of course I'm not going to accuse anyone based on a 50% probability of being right....

Jean Kazez said...

Tomh, Think of Christopher Hitchens when he's on a roll. He can be very outrageous and mocking, and I think downright insulting, calling religion "stupid" and the like. He does that in books, articles, websites, public talks, TV, and radio (as I said). Couldn't there be Christopher Hitchens wannabes out there who say the same kinds of things, but without the wit and intelligence, and do it "in person"? It seems possible to me. I don't see how the revelation that this does happen would substantially alter the public image of atheism. So it doesn't seem to matter much if "TJ" heard this. Nothing much turns on it.

tomh said...

Gurdur wrote: PZ Myers does rather make a habit of such things

Well, Myers does use his real name and he doesn't make up lies about conferences that never happened or make up nasty stories about fictitious people saying things that, again, never happened. Tom Johnson, on the other hand,... well, I suppose you know that story. Yet you, and others, defend Tom Johnson's right to lie about these things, all the while remaining anonymous. I suppose it's just me but it does seem like a peculiar way of looking the situation.

Jean Kazez said...

Brian, I believe he was specifically asked about creating Tom Johnson. If he'd said that wasn't him, that would have been a huge lie. He said it was him (more truthfully), but that revealed a lot about his identity. So he compromised and said "I created TJ--that's total fabrication," thereby (maybe inadvertently) smearing Mooney. Maybe that was as truthful as he could be, without revealing his identity.

Anyhow--yes, he lies really easily and in very weird and creepy ways. Maybe he is seriously disturbed. I think the right people are now talking to him, and maybe getting him help, or holding him accountable in some legitimate way. I don't see how putting his name out there on the internet would accomplish any legitimate objective.

tomh said...

Jean Kazez wrote: So it doesn't seem to matter much if "TJ" heard this. Nothing much turns on it.

A lot seemed to turn on it when Chris Mooney trumpeted the story as "Exhibit A" in his case against loud and unpleasant atheists. Now that the story is known to be a lie, we're told that nothing much turns on it. Personally, I've never been to or heard of a scientific conference where anything remotely like that phony story ever occurred. And to claim that something like it could possibly happen seems like clutching at straws in the extreme.

Gurdur said...

tomh said:

"... you, and others, defend Tom Johnson's right to lie about these things, all the while remaining anonymous"

No, TomH, I would like you now to completely retract your claim, otherwise you are just as guilty as TomJohnson.

I have never defended ever TomJohnson's "right to lie". You just made that up, and I am disgusted by your false claim.

I have pointed out TomJohnson does have a legal right to anonymity on the web, and I have also made it reasonably clear he enjoys that legal right as long as he does not transgress certain laws.

Are you going to try claiming he has no legal right to anonymity? I don't care what justifications you think you have of been all "angry", do you wish to claim TomJohnson has legally forfeited his legal rights in any way? Do you wish to claim you have any actual right to know an internet user's real identity just because you want to?

You can also explain why so many on Ophelia Benson's or PZ Myers' comments threads like to remain anonymous, all the while while posturing about finding out whom TomJohnson is.

More in my next comment on the rest of your remarks.

Gurdur said...

More:
tomh says:

"Well, Myers does use his real name and he doesn't make up lies ..... "

Oooooo, look, moving goalposts!

Because your initial claim was:
""Well, if by "confront and insult" you mean that people write books criticizing religious ideas and use reason and evidence to counter various religions' wildly different claims about the nature of the world and the way to discover the truth about it, well then, I guess they do."

So, just to be very very clear, you evaded Jean Kazez' original point which was:
"Of course, it goes without saying that some atheists do confront and insult religious people in books, articles, websites, public talks, on TV, and on the radio".

And you, TomH, tried to deny that, with a claim that amounted to saying it never happened, that the atheists in question only were "criticizing religious ideas and use reason and evidence...".

Oh dear. So when that counter-claim of yours was immediately shown to be false, you then make up excuses about at least PZ using his real name. Whooopidooo. Let's be clear; PZ Myers uses empty, childish abuse instead of reason and evidence, often. That was the point you tried denying ever happens with some atheists; there are of course many more examples.

Stick to the point, I never could respect moving goalposts and the attitude that any excuse would do.

TomJohnson made a false claim. I count two wildly incorrect claims from you yourself in this comments thread so far, those being:

1) that I or anyone else defends TomJohnson's "right to lie",

2) and that certain atheists do not use insult.

And FYI: my real name is easily available over my blog, and I am an atheist. I am also a strong atheist. I just get disgusted by dishonesty in argument, self-righteous witch-hunts, and repetitive abuse used instead of reason and evidence. And I couldn't give a stuff about how some people feel very very angry, that does not give them any right, excuse or standing to roughride over someone's civil rights.

Jean Kazez said...

tomh, I think you're misreading what I said. I'm not saying "it's possible, so it happened," which would be very stupid. I'm saying such things would not be all that surprising and anomalous, given known behavior of atheists--again, think Christopher Hitchens. They may not have happened at all, but our need to know depends on how much this story matters. If you don't really need to know, then you don't mess up someone's career in an attempt to find out.

Jean Kazez said...

Folks, Please read my comment policy. Be nice, be reasonable...or I'm going to have to be tedious and turn on comment moderation.

Gurdur said...

Jean Kazez said...

"Folks, Please read my comment policy. Be nice, be reasonable...or I'm going to have to be tedious and turn on comment moderation."

My apologies, my mistake.

Ken Pidcock said...

They may not have happened at all, but our need to know depends on how much this story matters.

Well said. I think.

tomh said...

Gurdur wrote:
I have pointed out TomJohnson does have a legal right to anonymity on the web

Big deal, who ever claimed he didn't? He also has a legal right to lie, in fact that right is enshrined in the US Constitution, as was recently affirmed by a federal judge in overturning the Stolen Valor Act of 2005. That doesn't mean it's against the law to name him or reveal his lies. And it doesn't mean that the people who not only swallow the lies whole hog, but continue to promulgate them, shouldn't be held up to ridicule. After all, Chris Mooney's last word on the subject was, "it might still be accurate." It doesn't get much more ridiculous than that.

You can also explain why so many on Ophelia Benson's or PZ Myers' comments threads...

I'm flattered that you think I speak for people on other blogs, but actually I don't. If there are things you don't understand you'll have to go to their blogs and ask them.

And FYI: my real name is easily available over my blog, and I am an atheist.

And that's relevant...how? I might be a Scientologist. Who cares?

that does not give them any right, excuse or standing to roughride over someone's civil rights.

Opining on a blog is "roughriding" over someone's civil rights? C'mon, that must sound a little silly, even to you.

Athena Andreadis said...

"On the other hand, I don't buy the theory that the story was so implausible on its face that Chris Mooney should have immediately dismissed all the corroboration."

Are you serious? Did a second eye-witness step forth? Was there a video or transcript of the purported incident? If not, the only "corroboration" was confirmation bias on Mooney's part.

Gurdur said...

TomH wrote:
you wrote: "Big deal, who ever claimed he didn't?"

eh, read my previous post again, eh?

"Who cares?"

Oh, I thought you were decrying TomJohnson's prior anonymity.

"Opining on a blog is "roughriding" over someone's civil rights? C'mon, that must sound a little silly, even to you."

Since no-one was talking about just opining on a blog, what relevance at all does your remark have?

I was of course talking about your criticisms of those who said he had a right to his anonymity (as well as of course the comments littering various blogs about wanting by any means to find out his real identity).

Do feel free to actually address that issue, if you like, since you were the one to bring it up with your previous criticisms, the ones now exploded as being immaterial.

The point is, I repeat, you have no legal right whatsoever to TomJohnson's real identity unless a court of law granted you it in a particular suit, which hasn't happened.

So, exactly, what were you claiming again?

And if you agree that TomJohnson had every legal right to his anonymity, till a court of law decided otherwise, what exactly are you arguing about? Do you have a point we could maybe address together? Hmmm?

Jean Kazez said...

Obviously it would be silly to expect videos or transcripts as corroboration for all eye-witness testimony. He had a long deceptive email with lots of links--I would have found it convincing too.

Athena Andreadis said...

You're not addressing the kernel of my question. My ancestors coined a term for that: sophistry.

I will ask again, with no flourishes this time: What was his corroboration? If he said he had witnessed a particular event, the least ethical requirement for reporting it as fact would be a second eye-witness. Lacking that, links to anything else (for example, other instances of atheists "being nasty", however that's defined) are irrelevant.

Jean Kazez said...

Actually, my ancestors have a word for what you're doing, and it's: being dense. I was shown email in confidence. Obviously I'm not going to be sharing the contents with you.

Anonymous said...

Two things that may be worth mentioning.

1. Did I hallucinate TJ's attempt to "out" someone else in his place? I don't care to know who he is, but this entire line of argument about how horrible it would be for poor him if he were outed seems more than a little bit contrived.

2. TJ has himself admitted that his story is false. Yet you, Jean, and Mooney as well, are trying to represent it as something that still "may be true," thus continuing a serious accusation against a large group of people (i.e. outspoken atheists).

There are many independent confirmations possible. One could find the venue, or one of the religious people that were insulted in the alleged incident.

Instead, all we get is that there is a mysterious email, that no corroboration was possible, and that Mooney is not at fault for believing a completely false story without basic legwork (such as what Coyne did, if I can point that out).

Athena has hit the nail on the head. Sophistry, Jean. Pure sophistry.

My internal conspiracy theorist is starting to wonder whether you and Mooney (and Nisbet) are actually New Atheists in disguise. I mean, one can rationally disagree with New Atheists, and can find lines of attack.

But you are doing it so incredibly badly, it almost seems that you are trying to support the New Atheists by making their opponents look like complete fools.

Hmmm...

Jean Kazez said...

You seem badly confused, maybe my last post will help.

There's a difference between being duped (now we know Chris Mooney was duped by Tom Johnson) and being to be blame for having been duped. We'll see what Chris wants to say about that, if anything. I wouldn't blame him, given the email I saw, but it's up to him to make his own assessment.

Athena Andreadis said...

Jean, you're stonewalling and being condescending at the same time. I'm not an undergrad in your classes and your persistent attempts to move goalposts are both transparent and subpar.

James Cape said...

So, I'm fairly (that is, a couple hours) new to this whole tempest in a teapot -- by which I mean there is an entire world not obsessed by someone making [things] up on the internet -- and only even found out about the issue because Chris Mooney's book (Unscientific America) inspired me to start reading PZ's blog again.

I'm a bit torn on the subject, and a part of me wants TJ outed: the person behind the story (do gendered pronouns refer only to the pseudonyms?) outright lied to someone acting as a journalist, and the lies weren't peripheral to the story, they were the story. I may not subscribe to the theory of a deterrent effect of the death penalty, but that doesn't mean there isn't one for petty theft.

On the other hand, it's probably not fair that the long tail of responsibility harms this person's reputation forever -- maybe they did learn that dishonesty is dangerous and damaging, and ultimately an attempt to exploit the fact that a lot of people don't use their critical reasoning skills as well as they should.

Ken Pidcock said...

We'll see what Chris wants to say about that, if anything. I wouldn't blame him, given the email I saw, but it's up to him to make his own assessment.

And just what the hell is that supposed to mean?

Jean Kazez said...

Stonewalling...because I won't discuss a confidential email? What?

Ken, It means in light of new information he might think he was somehow to blame...or might not. We'll just have to see.

Folks--read my comment policy. I'm deleting any further emails that are not both nice and reasonable.

elsewhere.org said...

Without having seen any of the confidential email that Jean's been privy to, my guess is that Chris Mooney got email from "Tom Johnson" containing details about his secret identity, including details about the conference he went to at which "Exhibit A" supposedly occurred. Given some things Mooney has said, I'm guessing that he was able to confirm that the person named as TJ's secret identity did exist, that the conservation event had taken place, and that "Tom Johnson" could plausibly have been there. I'm guessing that he didn't confirm that the person with whom he was corresponding was the person named as the secret identity, nor did he find anyone else who had been at the conservation event who could corroborate the story.

This is skating on the edge of what I'd call due diligence. Much as it pains me to hold blogs to a different standard than newspapers, I think it's a level of confirmation that might barely pass in the context of a blog. Had it been a newspaper article, though, no way.

Unless Mooney wants to give us any information about what he bothered to investigate, though, this is all just guessing. If Jean feels that she can't say anything about the emails she saw other than that she saw them and they back Mooney up, well, ok.

Jean Kazez said...

I agree--at a newspaper, no way. At a blog--I think the standards are lower, especially for just elevating a comment. You have a rough sense sense of the email, though there were even more details than you imagine, plus a home phone number and all sorts of professions of sincerity. It's the kind of thing I get all the time from students when they're trying to convince me of things--like to let them take an exam at a different time or turn a paper in late. Sometimes these things are very well done, very convincing, and give me justified belief in what I'm being told. But then later it turns out I was being conned. That's how I see this situation. Some people will think this is sophistry, but it's actually just epistemology 101. Justified false belief. It happens all the time.

elsewhere.org said...

I guess where my sense of outrage has been coming from is that Mooney's bio at The Intersection has him as "a science and political journalist and commentator". But apparently at The Intersection, his role is more commentator and less journalist. Maybe others expressing outrage at Mooney for being duped are holding him to the standard of a journalist, in a context where he only holds himself to the standards of a blogger.

Jean Kazez said...

It's pretty obvious that the real issue here is not supposed failures of Mooney's as a journalist. Who cares that much about the little gaffes of journalists (if this is one)? It's the fact that he was putting a story out there that was unflattering to "the new atheists." Obviously, that's really what irks.

elsewhere.org said...

Well, it's a combination of the two, isn't it? If he's a bad journalist about something I don't care about, why should I care? And if's a good journalist about something I do care about, I can hardly complain about sloppy journalism.

It's like... well, let's say there's a secular Jewish journalist who's written some books and has a blog about how the behavior of Hasidim is straining relations between secular and reform Jews and the rest of society. One day, a commenter on his blog posts a story about how, at temple the other day, he personally saw some acquaintances openly discussing the best way to steal a Christian baby and drain its blood, having been convinced by a rabbi (who our journalist has previously called out as a particular example of how those awful Hasidim are making things difficult for The Rest of Us) that this is how a True Jew behaves.

Our journalist takes this comment and uses it as the basis of a post, pointing out that this is exactly the sort of thing he's been talking about all along. How much research on his part would have been appropriate? And how unjustified, really, would an Orthodox Jew be in being angry both at the commenter who initiated the lie and the journalist who believed and repeated it?

This is a flawed analogy, of course, since atheists don't have centuries of blood libel to worry about. On the other hand, I believe the last time a state constitution prohibited Jews from holding office was in the 1860s, while atheists have been barred as recently as 1997.

Faust said...

Not to comment on the Mooney debacle directly, but I've been thinking about it at the general level of "journalism." It makes me think things like: how much journalism do we really have left in this country? I mean, if you look around at our news networks, at least within the political sphere, there is just precious little substance going on.

Example, this morning I take a little visit to Krugman's column and read this:

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/ma-hes-looking-at-me-funny/

Where he shows Zuckerman taking a quote grotesquely out of context. This echoes the Breitbart "scandal," in which Breitbart was "duped" by a "source" that perpetrated "fraud" on him, by sending him a grotesquely decontextualized quote (which Breitbart then failed to "vet properly"). The preceding scare quotes all indicating, incidentally, that I doubt Breitbart even has a "source" here.

Now of course Breitbart will NOT be revealing his "source," Zuckerman will NOT be apologizing for his shoddy quoting, and we will see much more of this deliberate propaganda in papers, magazine's and blogs every day from here on out. Every once in a while, some journalist will get sacrificed on the public altar when they transgress certain inviolable areas, but I'm not sure that these ever have to do with "journalistic standards." It would be interesting to see if there is ANY consistent pattern in our culture of "journalistic standards" consistently applied across the board. I doubt any such pattern exists. I suspect that "journalistic standards" are applied unevenly, and only when some particular interest group is able to gin up enough pressure to get someone up the food chain to do something to someone else.

At least part of what is going on here is the blending of "reporting" and "opinion making." MOST of our "journalism" at this point seems to be Op-Ed style "reporting" (see: all of cable news). Blogging has only intensified this, as most blogging is Op-Ed, or blends reporting with an Op-Ed style.

In an age where journalism is more or less dead (jokingly, I say it died with Bill Moyers), how is one to decide which of the many charlatans and snake oil salesmen to prosecute? The answer seems to be: when they mess with YOUR tribe.

As Elsewhere notes above: "If he's a bad journalist about something I don't care about, why should I care?" Exactly! Why care about some guy lying or doing shoddy work about an issue that is of no interest to me?! It's not the quality of the journalism that's at issue. It's the fact that my "issue" needs defense against the enemy.

elsewhere.org said...

What I probably should have said was that if someone's a bad journalist on an issue I don't follow, how would I even know about it? There have certainly been times when I've uncritically read some sloppy reporting about an issue I wasn't familiar with, only to have someone more knowledgeable point out the sloppiness. Once it's been pointed out, I can gripe about the quality of the reporting.

I'm reminded of the time that a bunch of coworkers and I, all unix systems administrators, went to see Jurassic Park. Everything was fine for most of the movie, because none of us were paleontologists. But when we got to the scene where the "computer geek" girl looks at the park's security computers and exclaims "this is unix! I know this!", there went our suspension of disbelief.

Jean Kazez said...

elsewhere.org, You have been very civilized, I am enjoying talking to you, and you are welcome here. But I do know you are Ophelia's webmaster, so you do have to think about your journalistic standards in terms of the stuff that's being written at B&W. There are attacks there against me that are totally groundless. People are not looking at facts calmly. I have been accused of lying by Ophelia (using euphemisms) when the facts just don't bear this out. She is making petty, juvenile little comments about commenters at my blog. So B&W is essentially now a crappy tabloid, and yet you're here telling me that another blog doesn't meet your high journalistic standards. Please. Either I'm going to have to just vomit on the keyboard or we're going to have to stop talking about high journalistic standards.

Jean Kazez said...

In case anyone wonders--

http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/archives/2010/04/18/butterflies-and-wheels/

Jean Kazez said...

Faust, I'm going to go float around in the pool and read Krugman! I'm thinking about those things as well--will have a post up about them soon.

elsewhere.org said...

Fair enough. There are certainly things Ophelia has said that I don't agree with, and quite often she says them in ways I wouldn't have chosen, if it were me. For example, I don't agree with what you've highlighted here as the blue principle. I never got a degree in journalism, but I did take coursework as an undergrad, and while I don't think a journalist who's been used by a source to perpetrate a fraud has any ethical obligation to continue protecting the source, neither do I think that they necessarily have an obligation to expose them. (I think I'm on record somewhere disagreeing with Ophelia about the value of anonymous/pseudonymous blogging, too.) So, yes, I do tech support for the B&W site, but I don't really have any say over the editorial content except as a commenter.

As a reader, though, here's how I can justify holding Mooney and Benson to different standards: Mooney claims to be a journalist. Benson, to the best of my knowledge, doesn't. If Mooney has said that when he's writing for The Intersection, he's in no way wearing his journalist hat, I missed it, and I apologize for holding him to a higher standard than was warranted.

(I'm Josh, by the way. I should probably try and fix my blogger account so it says that when I comment.)

Jean Kazez said...

Josh, OK, I was just feeling slightly "Trojan Horsed"!

Y'know, she actually is a journalist. She is the associate editor of the same magazine where I write a column. She writes books that gain or lose credibility based on whether she's responsible about her assertions at B&W, which is a very popular blog. The B&W front page is very clearly journalism--an online magazine, even-- and nothing else.

Thomas Joseph said...

Care to explain that mismatch?

Ophelia really needs to let her issues with Chris Mooney go and get on with life. Mama mia!

Jean Kazez said...

Let's not pour any more fuel on this fire. I couldn't be more sick of it.