New Yorker, once the proud home of fact-checking, shits the bed covering Obama's RFK smear of Hillary
The mildew continues to spread.
I've been been reading the New Yorker almost since I could read. I'm sure my parents weren't the only parents who framed New Yorker covers for art, when they were coming up and poor. I still think of a table of contents, let alone a letters section, as innovations that pander to weak-minded readers, and I loved the five-part series on geology.* And the one on soybeans, too! The Mighty Corrente Building has Departments in homage to New Yorker; I admire--honor--revere the New Yorker, and not least because they publish Seymour Hersh.
One of the strengths of the New Yorker has always been its fact-checking. (Adam Gopnik, in his wonderful Paris to the Moon, runs a wonderful riff on the idea that in America, we have fact-checkers, whereas in France, they would have theory checkers.) Of course, as elsewhere in our famously free press, fact-checking has declined from the high point described here, in 1993:
I was a New Yorker checker for some 14 years, between 1974 and 1988. ...
Most of the time, almost all of the time, we got it right. How do I know? Because if we got something wrong, if we got something that seemed wrong, some reader would write in and howl that Harold Ross must be spinning in his grave. Any accusation of checkerly nonfeasance rumbled into our department like an indictment.
If the number of such letters I observed was any guide, Harold Ross's grave was properly restful.
Every decent checker hated letting an error get into a piece. You hated to let down the author [these days, we create our own reality]; you hated to let down William Shawn or Bob Gottlieb, because you inevitably came to believe that the magazine was special. You certainly hated to let down Sara Lippincott or Martin Baron, who ran the department.
By and large, to check the facts is to try and keep the foundation of an article strong. If the writer and editor don't care how the foundation concrete gets poured, they deserve to live on the highest floor of the building they designed.
RICHARD SACKS Ridgefield, Conn., June 17, 1993
Haw. To here, from CJR, in 1994:
At The New Yorker, the fact-checking department has traditionally been seen as a journalistic gyrostabilizer. Is it wobbling a little? ... If so, it would not be too surprising. Editor Tina Brown has taken the stately yacht of The New Yorker through maneuvers more typical of a cigarette boat. Where the old New Yorker sought to be timeless, she strives to be topical ... Given such challenges, Brown has tried to strengthen the checking department. Since her arrival in 1992, the number of fact-checkers at The New Yorker has doubled to sixteen ... the magazine's executive editor, Hendrik Hertzberg, told interviewers that The New Yorker has admitted to "something above 300" mistakes in the past. Significant errors were often acknowledged in a floating errata column B variously called the "Department of Correction," the "Department of Correction and Amplification," and the "Department of Correction, Amplification, and Abuse" B or via private correspondence. As one long-time department member recalls, "They would write a private letter, saying, 'We're sorry. We didn't mean to imply you were a pedophile. Yours sincerely, The New Yorker.'"
Those genteel days are over. One of the reasons, many in the fact-checking department feel, has less to do with new time pressures than with the nature of the subjects the magazine now treats -- organizations and people who, as three fact-checkers put it, are "more press savvy," are "more litigious," and "tend to be in the hot seat already." Some members of the department also say darkly that under Tina Brown the editing of The New Yorker has become "addicted to spin."
Which -- "spin" -- brings us to this week's article by Peter Boyer, where he teabags K.O. Boyer writes--and unfortunately I quote a great slab of it, since it's the nature of the vacuous to take up space:
On May 23rd, at an editorial-board meeting in South Dakota, Clinton was asked, again, whether she should drop out of the race for the good of the Party. Clinton, saying she would not, employed a historical reference meant to remind her listeners that the nomination process had extended into June in previous primary campaigns. “My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.”
For those willing to ascribe iniquity to all things Clinton, the remark was shocking. “Why, in the name of all that all of us hold dear, would anybody ever say anything like this?” Olbermann asked, at the beginning of his broadcast that night.
A rhetorical question crying out for an answer which Boyer, alas for the New Yorker's reputation, does not give.
“Can she in good conscience continue in the race for President after having said anything like this? Is her political career at an end?” At the conclusion of his show, Olbermann subjected Clinton to the Special Comment treatment. Assuming a posture of animated outrage, Olbermann blasted Clinton for nearly eleven minutes, suggesting that her remarks were calculated and “heartless.” He recited a number of sins for which Clinton had already been forgiven, from her landing-under-fire-in-Bosnia claim to her exploitation of the Jeremiah Wright controversy.
“This, Senator, is too much,” he concluded. “Because a senator, a politician, a person who can let hang in midair the prospect that she might just be sticking around, in part, just in case the other guy gets shot has no business being, and no capacity to be, the President of the United States.”
Plenty of spittle from K.O., but can anybody spot the missing fact?
The story wasn't true. There wasn't an ounce of truth to it. The scandal, as the Howler showed in detail, was blown up by the New York Post, then emailed to the universe by Obama, from whence it metastatized to K.O. and the entire known universe.
And surely the Argus editorial board, who were in the room with Hillary at time time, would hardly have endorsed her, had they understood her to be calling for her opponents death.
Shame on the once proud New Yorker for airbrushing history, and for putting their obamiste preferences above the facts.
This from the magazine that devoted an entire issue to Hiroshima?
Will the truthiness never end?
Will the rot never stop?
What's wrong with these people?
I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it.
NOTE * There might have been more than one, in fact.