Posts Tagged ‘michael tomasky’
Michael Tomasky, writing about the more extreme fringe of the American Republican party in a recent issue of the New York Review of Books, notes that among its milder violations of honest criticism is a tendency to fudge obvious distinctions. A case in point: the distinction between reporting and editorializing. He notes that Ann Coulter in her recent book, Demonic, implies that liberal writers such as Tomasky frequently insinuate their opinions into their journalism. Tomasky writes a column, which is a vehicle for opinion: it’s understood that the views he expresses are his own. The implied charge that the news pages of the paper he writes for (principally the Guardian) are polluted by liberal propaganda is unfounded – and, in this context, ludicrous.
Such fudging is hardly new, however. Peter Braestrup does the same thing in Big Story, his book about press coverage of the Tet Offensive (see earlier posts). In his impressive collection of press clippings he mixes freely news dispatches from Saigon and commentary taken from Stateside newspapers. There’s no question that columnists such as James Reston and Walter Lippmann were skeptical of the war by 1968 – just as others, such as Joseph Alsop, remained hawkish. But it’s not necessarily case – and usually definitely not the case – that the men and women writing their reports from South Vietnam were deliberately sifting their remarks through some kind of liberal filter.
Both Coulter and Braestrup understand (or understood) the difference between reporting and editorializing. It simply suits their purpose to forget.