It is by definition opinion

Howard Kurtz is media critic for the Washington Post.  He also hosts "Reliable Sources," a meta-media show, Sunday mornings on CNN.  Many claim there is a conflict of interest in his having two roles, one of which would seem to involve criticizing the other.  Many more claim that for a media critic, he really has a sorry idea of what constitutes media criticism.  Please enjoy the following exchange (via mediactive via Atrios):

Fairfax County, Va.: Hi Howard, This Sunday, I read the editorials in The Post and The New York Times about the surprise Peace Prize. I liked the NYT editorial (which was pro), but like most of us, including Obama, I could certainly have handled an editorial that was anti this choice.

When I read The Washington Post editorial, I felt so sad for what this paper has become. Their whole idea was that the prize should have gone to Neda, the woman who was murdered by the Iranian police. Nobel Peace Prizes can’t be given posthumously. It’s a basic, easy factcheck. There are other fact problems, too (the protests hadn’t happened by the nomination date, Neda may not have been a protester).

So the idea that the committee made a careless or inappropriate choice is refuted by a slapdash editorial “choice” that nobody bothered to check? It just screamed out to me “we laid off almost all the copy editors.” I feel so sad for The Post I grew up with. It’s great to have an opinion. It’s bad to look dumb.

Howard Kurtz: I take your point about no posthumous awards, though by that standard Martin Luther King couldn’t have won after being assassinated (yes, I know he won the prize earlier). My reading of the piece was that Neda was being used more as a symbol (though the rule should have been mentioned). But it’s an editorial. It is by definition opinion. Of course some readers are going to disagree.

The Washington Post editorial board made a straightforward factual error in their opinion piece.  That can happen, because such opinion pieces are really collections of facts which purport to lead to other facts.  Some call those collections "arguments."  Arguments based on facts which are not facts are called uncogent or unsound, or, as some say around here (academia), "sucky."  

That Kurtz does not know the difference between a fact and an opinion means he has no business reading the the op-ed page (let alone discussing it).

One thought on “It is by definition opinion”

  1. I like this Webster definition of opinion:” belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge”.
    The idea is to have an opinion about a set of facts, not a set of “facts” for an opinion. But this happening more and more.
    John, what was the last sound op-ed you’ve read?

Comments are closed.