Don't Mess with Texas

The Columbia Journalism Review ignores its own principles...but that's OK. Rules don't apply when you can smear Fox News.

A recent spat between Brian Wilson (FNC's tall Texan) and a reporter from the Washington Post has attracted the attention of the Columbia Journalism Review. When we saw the reference on TVNewser, it sounded promising--if anyone is going to write a fair, well-researched, impartial story, it should be an organization that critiques journalism.

The writer of the piece is one Brian Montopoli, who has also written for The American Prospect (an "authoritative magazine of liberal ideas"), (that bastion of good journalism), and quite a bit for the Washington City Paper--a handout given away for free in the DC area. On his own website he describes himself as "maybe 25 percent Republican", though his list of links proves to be only 8.5 percent Republican--it is otherwise almost exclusively a roll call of far-left ideologues.

All of this, of course, doesn't mean that Mr M can't write a fair article, especially one published by a purportedly prestigious organization like the CJR. He references the Washington Post report by Mark Leibovich--supposedly the aggrieved party in the contretemps with Mr Wilson. Then Mr M continues:
Cutting through the "cacophony of competing screams" from the press was Fox News correspondent Brian Wilson, who asked Dean, in light of his recent comments, if he hated white Christians.

That bit of oversimplification doesn't exactly convey the point of Mr Wilson's question.

WILSON: But how can you get that message through when people are focused on the other things that you've said? About hating Republicans, about Republicans being dishonest? And then this latest comment about the Republican Party is full of white Christians. You say you hate Republicans. Does that mean you also have similar feelings toward white Christians?
Dean didn't dignify that with a response...

Now Dr Dean didn't say anything about "not dignifying" the question, and in fact started to reply when Sen Reid talked over him. We're hesitant to suggest it, but could the wording here be a bit, well, slanted? No, that can't be right. This is the Columbia Journalism Review, after all.
thanks to the magic of blogs, we also get a bit of the backstory to share.

Ah, the story behind the story. By the most amazing coincidence, the magic blogs Mr M cites all just happen to be run by--surprise!--left-wing ideologues. They tell the story of a shouting match between Messrs Wilson and Leibovich, and by another shocking coincidence, they all relate Mr Leibovich's version of what happened, but not Brian Wilson's.

Being a solon of journalistic excellence, Mr Montopoli sets out to nail down the real facts of the story, with the insistence on evenhanded balance that sets the CJR apart from mere reportorial hacks:
Skeptical of such accounts, we cornered Leibovich today.

Now we would have thought that, with Leibovich's slant already on the record, having him tell it again to the CJR doesn't exactly advance the story. The last thing a "journalist" would do is characterize a controversy with just one side of the disagreement. Surely, he sought out Mr Wilson to get the other side.

And yet, Mr M's article says nothing about Brian Wilson's take on what happened. Not a sentence, not a quote. No indication that the writer made any attempt whatsoever to contact Mr Wilson. Still, Mr Montopoli has no hesitation in saying what a fine article the Post ran:
...even without outing Wilson as the boor that he clearly is...

That's a fascinating "journalistic" conclusion to draw, considering that Mr M never even talked to Mr Wilson. Just get one side, declare it to be fact, and then smear your chosen victim without even talking to him. After all, the Post is a real paper; that Wilson guy is just one of those Fox people. Why bother with him?

One of the "core principles of journalism" is "getting both sides of the story". But once again, the rules go out the window when there's a chance to smear Fox News. That is what passes for "journalism" at the CJR.

Some time after Mr M's article appeared, an unusual "Editor's Postscript" was added. Obviously someone thought that Mr M's hatchet job was over the line, even for the CJR. Here, at last, Brian Wilson was allowed to tell what happened--the version that was not permitted in Mr Montopoli's one-sided article:

Brian Wilson responds:
[Mark Leibovich] approached me after the Dean photo op--without identifying himself as a reporter--and asked me, in a rather brusque way, who I was. Not in the habit of identifying myself to complete strangers, I did return his question with a now widely quoted question of my own. He then repeatedly asked me to show him my credentials. I explained to Mr. Liebovich that I did not feel obligated to produce my credentials simply because a reporter from the Washington Post demanded it. But be clear, from the moment he identified himself to me, the conversation was animated, but not profane....I must tell you, I have never in my 35 years as a journalist, been asked by another reporter to prove I was who I said I was. In my humble opinion, if there was bizarre behavior on display--this was it.

posted: Sat - June 11, 2005 at 02:57 PM       j$p  send 

Ranger Bob
I see the newshound site must be down. Either that or they banned me.
June 12, 2005, 10:15:40 AM EDT – Like – Reply

johnny dollar
Same here. I suspect their server is down for some reason. Maybe moneybags Gilliam didn't pay the monthly bill.
June 12, 2005, 12:34:10 PM EDT – Like – Reply

Johnny Petrol-dollar
wow. this blog is just full of useful posts from your followers Johnny.
June 14, 2005, 3:26:03 AM EDT – Like – Reply