Saturday, December 3, 2011

For There Is Nothing Either Good Or Bad, But Thinking Makes It So

A double-standard advocacy journalist masquerades as the Washington Post’s ombudsman

Mr. Patrick Pexton, the fastidious ombudsman of the Washington Post, not long ago was pushed to the very (narrow) limits of his tolerance when his colleague Jennifer Rubin approvingly re-Tweeted a post by this blogger concerning the captors of Gilad Shalit. Mr. Pexton was horrified by my post—though, like the scrum of semi-literate leftist commentators whose heads exploded all over the internet about it, he was not quite up to its formulation; clauses within clauses are just more, apparently, than they are able to decode—reacting with disgust to “its ghoulishness, its odd sexual undertone and its preoccupation with violence.” (Odd sexual undertone? Really? Well, seek, and ye shall find, I suppose). In short, he found the post “reprehensible,” and was outraged by Mrs. Rubin’s endorsement of my sentiment.

The Abrams brand of incendiary rhetoric has gained too much purchase on the landscape of American politics. It pollutes our discourse and erodes the soil on which reasonable solutions and compromises can be built, whether at home or in the Middle East. It seems to be preoccupied with violence rather than weary of it. That a Post employee would retweet it is a huge disappointment to me.

He’s right: I am preoccupied with violence—the violence of those “Palestinians” who choose to pollute discourse and erode soil by committing acts of bloody terror against innocent Israeli children, women, and men. And so is Jennifer Rubin.

If, as he says, “the Post needs conservative voices to balance its many liberal ones,” it’s only in small doses he seems willing to swallow any actual non-liberal output: He devoted an astounding 1,300 words to excoriating me and berating her.

But all that’s in the past. Mr. Pexton turns now to two Washington Post colleagues of a less disappointing, more “liberal-voices” nature, and performs a mind-contortion in order to defend some very questionable behavior by them which, had conservatives engaged in it, would likely have given him a liberal aneurism.

There’s some dispute about whether one of those colleagues, Wonkroom blogger/reporter Ezra Klein, met with Senate Democrats to brief them on questions relating to the Supercommittee. Certain journalists say he did, and stand by their story. Mr. Pexton chooses to see it otherwise, because Mr. Klein told him his meeting with them was routine—“this was him cultivating sources, as all reporters do in this town”—and because he “has intelligent, insightful things to say about politics and policy,” and is

one of the most popular of all of The Post’s bloggers and a man with 110,000 Twitter followers. Klein is a hybrid journalist: he comments, he reports, he takes positions on issues of public policy. He’s not on the editorial pages but in the news pages.

Not unlike Jen Rubin, in fact, though she’s on the editorial side, and therefore is not held to the same journalistic standards.

Mr. Pexton’s standards for her are much stricter.

Stricter, too, than they are for reporter Aaron Blake, who was also apparently cultivating sources as all reporters do in this town when he tweeted “Hey Tweeps: Looking for outlandish/incorrect predictions and quotes from Newt Gingrich’s past. Any ideas for me?”

“This,” Mr. Pexton avers, “is an example of a relatively new reporting technique called crowdsourcing—using social media to contact as many people as possible who might have particular knowledge of a subject the reporter is working on.

The Right calls this biased digging up dirt. I call it a reporter’s inartful and early foray into crowdsourcing.

I call this commentary a liberal’s inartful and essential foray into double-standard advocacy journalism. Ombudsman, heal thyself.

1 comment:

  1. This woman of the Right doesn't call it digging up dirt. She calls it being too lazy to do your own footwork in researching the past of a public figure whose entire career has been one of self-promotion, mostly in the form of BOOKS (you remember those, Mr. Pexton, though your young colleague might not), regular appearances on Fox, the Sean Hannity radio show, and just about anywhere there's a mic. Even better, he can't go three minutes without blowing up the ship with provocative (and often ridiculous) pronouncements that get him in the news, AGAIN. And this is to say nothing of his so-called "baggage" both personal and professional. The problem is that even in this moment of attention, he still can't shut up, to wit (referring to the Nancy Pelosi benchshare) "That was the stupidest thing I've ever done." REALLY???!!! [note to the journalist: this guy may have self-awareness issues] This is dirt that anyone could catch in a bucket because it's falling like bushels of Newtonian apples out of the sky. Mr. Pexton, why are you paying this lazy little shift?