Sins of omission

Clark Hoyt, the public editor of the New York Times, took the editor of the Times' opinion page to task for having published the moronic ravings of Edward Luttwak on Obama.  He concludes that the Times ought to be more responsible on factual questions.  He writes:

The Times Op-Ed page, quite properly, is home to a lot of provocative opinions. But all are supposed to be grounded on the bedrock of fact. Op-Ed writers are entitled to emphasize facts that support their arguments and minimize others that don’t. But they are not entitled to get the facts wrong or to so mangle them that they present a false picture.

Sounds right to me.  Two cheers for Hoyt. 

But the editing job ought to beyond the straight up factual claims.  Disregarding obvious countervailing evidence, which can happen when op-ed writers "stress" some facts and not others, is just as bad, if not in fact worse.  


4 thoughts on “Sins of omission”

  1. He did say they’re entitled to minimize countervailing evidence, rather than ignore it. If that means they’re entitled to make an argument for why some piece of evidence is less important than it might seem, it seems like a good rule for debate. But as you allude to, I think some Times writers take this as license for a-whole-nother (infix!) sort of rhetorical tactic.

  2. This is the kind of nonsense in which papers like the Times are bound to traffic as long as they are committed to the idea of providing absolute ideological balance in its editorial content. In the contemporary political landscape, objectivity or balance are defined as having the same number of people for or against something irrespective of whether or not their arguments make any sense or are supported by facts. They’re “required” to have x negative opinion pieces on Obama per week lest they incur the hysterics of the far-right Liberal Media Watchdogs; if said pieces happen to consist of wild speculation rooted in misinterpreted “facts,” so be it.

  3. wow what happened to edward luttwak? At one time he was actually a good military scholar who wrote about ancient roman strategy and modern strategy. Now he comes off as a lunatic.

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