Earlier tonight, I had a post about the fascinating exchange between Hugh Hewitt and Barbara Demick this morning. I concentrated primarily on Demick’s admission that the person whom she had interviewed was a North Korean government agent.
But another portion of that exchange bears discussing as well, as it reveals the dangers of an excessive devotion to objectivity.
The other day I (and countless other bloggers) faulted Barbara Demick of the Los Angeles Times for her puff-piece interview with a North Korean government agent. My main complaint was Demick’s failure to challenge the man’s description of himself as a simple “businessman with close ties to the government.” The truth of this criticism becomes clearer with each passing day.
I am still appalled at yesterday’s L.A. Times article on the death penalty — so much so that I have written a rare letter to the editor:
Re “Death Row Often Means a Long Life,” March 6: Your article overstated the cost of the death penalty by millions of dollars. First, it erroneously included in the cost of capital punishment every dollar spent litigating appeals filed by capital murder defendants. But these defendants would still appeal their murder convictions — at state expense — if they were sentenced to life instead of death. Your article implicitly assumes that it would cost the state nothing to litigate such appeals. In fact, it would cost millions.
In addition, some murderers plead to life to avoid the possibility of a death sentence. This saves the state the cost of a trial and an appeal. These plea bargains are made possible by the death penalty. But the article does not tell us how often this happens, and how many millions of dollars are saved each year as a result. Indeed, these savings are not even mentioned.
I suggest that you do the article again and report a more accurate estimate this time around.
I’ll let you know if it’s printed.