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Friday, April 02, 2004

Paul Krugman channels Atrios 

Krugman clearly read his Atrios this week. He talks about the Letterman flap and Wolf Blitzer's lies, both of which Atrios has been harping on this week. After explaining the two incidents, Krugman writes the following:
Look, I understand why major news organizations must act respectfully toward government officials. But officials shouldn't be sure — as Mr. Wilkinson obviously was — that they can make wild accusations without any fear that they will be challenged on the spot or held accountable later.

And administration officials shouldn't be able to spread stories without making themselves accountable. If an administration official is willing to say something on the record, that's a story, because he pays a price if his claims are false. But if unnamed "administration officials" spread rumors about administration critics, reporters have an obligation to check the facts before giving those rumors national exposure. And there's no excuse for disseminating unchecked rumors because they come from "the White House," then denying the White House connection when the rumors prove false. That's simply giving the administration a license to smear with impunity.
This seems like a basic enough rule. I don't know why can't all agree it should govern in newsrooms across the land. Otherwise, you get Judith Miller, who is nothing more than a glorified Jayson Blair/Stephen Glass/Jack Kelley, and who should have been fired long ago.
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