Thanks for Nothing

The public editor of the Times admits to being complicit in smearing Rick Perlstein in their idiotic article on Rick Perlstein’s The Invisible Bridge:

My take: There’s a problem here. An article about polarized reaction to a high-profile book is, of course, fair game. But the attention given to the plagiarism accusation is not.

Yes, the claim was “out there” but so are smears of all kinds as well as claims that the earth is flat and that climate change is unfounded. This one comes from the author of a book on the same subject with an opposing political orientation. By taking it seriously, The Times conferred a legitimacy on the accusation it would not otherwise have had.

And while it is true that Mr. Perlstein and his publisher were given plenty of opportunity to respond, that doesn’t help much. It’s as if The Times is saying: Here’s an accusation; here’s a denial; and, heck, we don’t really know. We’re staying out of it. Readers frequently complain to me about this he said, she said false equivalency — and for good reason.

So I’m with the critics. The Times article amplified a damaging accusation of plagiarism without establishing its validity and doing so in a way that is transparent to the reader. The standard has to be higher.

At least they are acknowledging their mistake, but the damage is already done. You’d think they would have contacted precisely ONE reputable historian to discuss this issue and explain how this was plagiarism, but I know why they didn’t. No reputable historian of note would make such a charge and would probably hang up on the idiots writing the story.

31 replies
  1. 1
    Anoniminous says:

    The Gray Lady is senile.

    Time to put her in an assisted living facility.

  2. 2
    Davis X. Machina says:

    The Times editors knew what they wanted going in.

    Draw your curves first.
    Then plot your data.
    Then run the experiment.

    If you’re pressed for time, skip step #3

  3. 3
    cbear says:

    No reputable historian of note would make such a charge and would probably hang up on the idiots writing the story.

    At which point, said historian would be duly outed as a liberal co-conspirator and complicit in covering up the plagiarism.

  4. 4
    Ben Cisco says:

    They merely employed the Chuckie Todd standard of journalism – straight stenography, homie.

  5. 5
    Shakezula says:

    I’m starting to think the New York Times wants to be the NY Post without the clever headlines.

  6. 6
    geg6 says:

    This?

    You’d think they would have contacted precisely ONE reputable historian to discuss this issue and explain how this was plagiarism, but I know why they didn’t. No reputable historian of note would make such a charge and would probably hang up on the idiots writing the story.

    Is exactly why I have completely given up on traditional media. The most important thing to all of them, bar none, is that BOTH SIDES DO ITism of the highest degree. Not worth my time or my anger any more. Fer fuck’s sake, NBC finally decides Dancin’ Dave must go and who are they going with? Chuckles. Fucking goddam Chuckles.

  7. 7
    big ole hound says:

    @Anoniminous: Agree, plus that has been the case since 9/11 and the adoration of all things GOP. The NY Times attitude towards Cheney and Bush are the sole reason we went to war in Iraq. They gobbled up all the lies and the MMM in NY followed suit.They were part of the scam and have known it for a long time but still refuse to acknowledge their part.

  8. 8
    Librarian says:

    I used to get the Sunday Times, but canceled it several years ago. Haven’t missed it a bit.

  9. 9
    Tom Q says:

    @Librarian: When I was a kid (way too many years ago), I read the Times for sports and movie/theatre reviews. It wasn’t till I hit college and became politically aware that I started reading the news & oped pages.

    Now, I swear, I’ve come almost full circle: except for Krugman, I can’t stand to read anything news/political-related. I’m back to sports & entertainment (plus the puzzle — the main reason I could never give up the Times is the puzzle).

  10. 10
    raven says:

    I’ve just started the book and, like Nixonland, it takes me back to places and things that I remember so well. The whole fucking POW/MIA bullshit and how they tried to make it out like they were innocent guys kidnapped by those slimy VC and NVA. The returning POW’s were kept under lock and key and their statements were carefully monitored to make sure they went along with the Tricky administrations line. I don’t know if I need another 840 pages of being totally pissed off again!

  11. 11
    BGinCHI says:

    @raven: My doctor has forbidden me to read that book as doing so may seriously harm my health.

    It was bad enough living through it the first time….

  12. 12
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    @geg6: And I’m sure Chuckles will work out for them as well as Dancing Dave did. Happily, this looks like a self-correcting problem. Please proceed, gentlemen.

  13. 13
    flukebucket says:

    It is a great book by the way. I recommend it highly.

  14. 14
    raven says:

    @BGinCHI: It starts in about 1969.

  15. 15
    JPL says:

    Does Perlstein have any recourse, i.e., another book review. This time done by someone without an agenda.

  16. 16
    BGinCHI says:

    @raven: I was 3 and was already anxious.

  17. 17
    BGinCHI says:

    @JPL: I’d say he will be vindicated elsewhere. But the Times won’t be.

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The only apology Perlstein should entertain from these assholes is a Captain Needa apology.

  19. 19
    Poopyman says:

    @Anoniminous: Luke’s Dad got the thing up to speed and pointed it towards the ice field, Dancin’ Dave hit the iceberg, and Chuckie gets to go down with the ship. So (not) sad.

    Also, Roy E. has all you need to know on the subject.

  20. 20
  21. 21
    carbon dated says:

    How was the public editor “complicit” ? Or do you mean the NYT was complicit, as the PE admits? (In which case the post title makes no sense…)

  22. 22
    kyle says:

    @carbon dated: Agreed. The public editor did what she was supposed to do, which is say straight out when her employer has screwed up. Cole’s post could at least acknowledge that before the outrage and the hopping up and down.

  23. 23
    RAM says:

    At least they are acknowledging their mistake…

    No, “they” haven’t acknowledged anything. The Public Editor said the story was fucked up and bullshit, but the Times still hasn’t acknowledged anything at all.

  24. 24
    mclaren says:

    This is the same kind of organized mainstream smear operation deployed systematically against David Graeber when he authored Debt.

    Compare with Konrad Lorenz’s description of the phylogenetic fight response of a brown rat community to a foreign rat placed in its midst:

    What rats do when a member of a strange rat clan enters their territory or is put there by an experimenter is one of the most horrible and repulsive things which can be observed in animals. The strange rat may run around for minutes on end without having any idea of the terrible fate awaiting it….till finally the strange rat comes close enough to one of them for it to get wind of the intruder. The information is transmitted like an electric shock…and at once the whole colny is alarmed by a process of mood transmission which is communicated….in the House Rat by a sharp, shrill, satanic cry, which is taken up by all members of the community.

    Source: On Aggression, Konrad Lorenz, 5th edition: New York, Bantam Books, pg. 155.

  25. 25
    LT says:

    John – the public editor is not “admit[ting] to being complicit” – she’s the *public editor*. She’s sayig the NYT fucked up – not her. She’s calling them out on it.

    A quibble? I don’t think. Sullivan’s done good in that role.

  26. 26
    Dog On Porch says:

    Fish rot from the top.

  27. 27
    Cpl Cam says:

    Well @mclaren: I’m reading Debt now. Absolutely fascinating. As for the New York Times, I read Krugman… And do the crossword puzzle…

  28. 28
    oaguabonita says:

    Um, wait, what?

    The public editor of the Times admits to being complicit in smearing Rick Perlstein in their idiotic article on Rick Perlstein’s The Invisible Bridge: [ . . . ]

    Ya know, if you’re gonna make such a claim, the onus is on you to specify where . . . exactly . . . the PE makes any such admission! The excerpts provided (which I had previously read elsewhere) do not seem to support such an accusation.

    I don’t see any such admission. Instead, I see Sullivan (in stark contrast to numerous PE predecessors at NYT) doing what a PE is supposed to do: holding NYT accountable for bad actions.

    So, sorry, you’re gonna hafta actually make the case, not just level the accusation.

  29. 29
    LT says:

    @oaguabonita: Cole is taking Sullivan as representative of the NYT, and that she is admitting culpability *for them. I happen to see it differently, as I said in my previous comment, but it’s not an uneasonable viewpoint.

  30. 30
    oaguabonita says:

    @LT:

    @oaguabonita: Cole is taking Sullivan as representative of the NYT, and that she is admitting culpability *for them. I happen to see it differently, as I said in my previous comment, but it’s not an uneasonable viewpoint.

    If, indeed, that’s what he’s doing, it seems a complete misapprehension of the PE’s role. It is not “representative of the NYT”, it is representative of readers and journalistic ethics against (when appropriate, as here) NYT. I think (at least in this case) she has performed this role admirably . . . Cole owes her an apology!

  31. 31
    oaguabonita says:

    @LT:
    . . . adding (in case I wasn’t clear!), I think that is an unreasonable viewpoint!

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