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Here are some Twitter messages I saw today from Change_for_Iran, a pro-Mousavi Iranian student, and Mark Knoller, CBS News White House Correspondent:
UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for the link.
UPDATE x2: A similar point effectively made in video form, here.
Today is an important day in Iran, and Allahpundit has the coverage.
UPDATE: Here’s a video of some robust debate (content warning: debate is extremely robust):
What’s an American president to do at such a time? Go for ice cream!
James Rainey appears to have violated his newspaper’s policy on anonymous sources in his hit piece on Jill Stewart. The policy — which is violated whenever the editors feel like violating it — reads in relevant part:
When we use anonymous sources, it should be to convey important information to our readers. We should not use such sources to publish material that is trivial, obvious or self-serving.
Sources should never be permitted to use the shield of anonymity to voice speculation or to make ad hominem attacks.
Hmmm. Are anonymous ad feminem attacks OK?
Oh, I guess you could strain to argue that it wasn’t ad hominem when James Rainey quoted an anonymous source saying that Stewart pushes for “gotcha, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey journalism.” Why, it’s not an attack on her, the tut-tutting response would go, it’s an attack on her journalism.
Fine. But there is no question that this portrait of Stewart is self-serving for Rainey, whose methodology of quoting anonymous sources was questioned by Stewart’s L.A. Weekly. If Rainey can successfully portray Stewart-edited pieces as “gotcha” journalism, that assessment dilutes the impact of an article critical of some of Rainey’s practices.
I’d call that self-serving. And thus a violation of the paper’s policy on anonymous sources.
Worse, Rainey failed to disclose to readers that he had an ulterior motive to slam Stewart and the Weekly.
P.S. Stewart has used anonymous sources to slam the L.A. Times. I have used anonymous sources in various ways, probably including slamming the L.A. Times. Sometimes anonymous sources are useful, and the mere fact of their use is not an automatic problem.
But if you’re using them to serve a secret and personal agenda — that’s a problem. And that’s what we seem to have here.
As with my earlier posts, I am writing Rainey for his reaction. That’s more of a courtesy than he gave to Stewart.
Luke Y. Thompson, who wrote an L.A. Weekly piece questioning James Rainey’s attack on Jill Stewart, replied to me via a Facebook message. Here’s what Luke sent:
Well, I just read the piece, and to be honest I don’t know enough about the stories in question to really judge. I do know Jill as a friend and colleague for ten years, and she’s very kind to flatter my article, which was admittedly one of the first investigative stories I ever did, having previously made my name as an entertainment writer (a fact that I’m sure critics of the Weekly will use against her at some point).
I am kind of surprised James Rainey didn’t mention the piece on him; he and I both recorded our phone conversation to ensure I quoted him accurately, and he certainly could have made fun of the fact that I was a film critic, or had funky-colored hair, or whatever. Not that it was a hit piece, from my perspective — I didn’t go in with any political agenda as far as I can determine. I lean left politically, but when it comes to writing stories my bias, if any, tends to be toward whatever the best quotes are, and in that particular case, right-leaning former Times editor Ken Reich gave me some of the best, and called to thank me afterwards for quoting him accurately (as did political polar-opposite David Ehrenstein, with whom you’re familiar).
And ultimately I don’t think my piece even made Rainey look that bad, but it did analyze the likely pressures he was under to toe the line, with quotes from a lot of people. That said, I know he’s been under some pressure to write about the Weekly for a while. This article felt like a bit of a toss-off, to be honest (and included the kind of anonymous sources my article was dubious about).
He hasn’t made contact with me, but then you had trouble reaching me too. I’ve moved twice since that article. So no idea if he wanted to talk to me or not.
And does anyone else see the disconnect in saying the Weekly has become more agenda-driven despite the fact that it did away with election endorsements precisely because Mike Lacey wants to be free to bash both sides as needed?
Then again, I still write for the Weekly on occasion. So I could be just a corporate shill, I guess.
I didn’t have any trouble reaching Luke, actually — I wrote my post late last night anyway. I simply already had a line of communication with him and stopped with that.
Luke has a point that his piece wasn’t really a hit on Rainey, and contained quotes from people praising Rainey. But it did question Rainey’s use of anonymous sources — and I think that issue really merits a separate post, since his use of such sources in his hit piece on Jill appears to violate the paper’s policy.
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