(And this one's for all the media wanks out there.)
Here we are, to tie up a few loose ends from JoJo's recent pathological dishonesty, where we ponder the original claim that there are "28 studies linking breast cancer to induced abortion," a claim which has been taken out back and beaten bloody with an axe handle, and if you haven't come to grips with that, well, you're too stupid to be hanging out here and I suggest you go back to JoJo's place. Thanks ever so much.
But this incident inspires a rather obvious question -- given that that letter was printed in the National Post, is there any letter to the editor that can be so obviously dishonest or out to lunch that a letters page editor can, in good conscience, simply say, "No, we're not going to print this, it's blatant rubbish."
In this case, it's entirely possible that the letters page editor really didn't know about the thorough refutation of Denise Mountenay's garbage and so, in the interests of fairness, he reasonably let it go through. So what should be our appropriate response?
Well, opposing letters can always be written, but they will suffer from the same limitation as all letters -- a maximum word count, in which you sometimes can't make the point as thoroughly as you'd like. Which has led me, on occasion, to write a longer piece, directly to the editor and not for publication, in which I lay out an irrefutable case on whatever topic I happen to be whinging on about.
The goal is not to get published, the goal is to educate the editor in the hopes that this sort of idiocy doesn't happen again. But if you manage to get your point across, do you now have the right to expect that that editor won't publish any more letters making the same stupid claim?
In short, once a letters page editor knows that a certain claim is garbage, will that necessarily stop him from publishing the same claim again? Or does journalistic "fairness" demand that everyone has the right to be heard, even if they're as stupid or dishonest as Denise and JoJo?
This same situation has popped up whenever the topic of biological evolution comes around, since you just know that some illiterate wingnut is going to write in, claiming that evolution violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It, of course, does no such thing and, by this time, you have to believe that editors must understand that. And yet, curiously, they continue to publish the same worthless claim, year after year, despite knowing its falsity.
So that's the question here -- is it an inherent part of journalistic fairness that everyone should get their say in the public forum, even when some of those people know what they're talking about while others are clearly pushing total crap? Or, put another way, when these editors are deciding what to print, does the obvious inaccuracy of information even remotely make a difference in what gets published and what doesn't?
I'm genuinely curious about this -- when it comes to letters to the editor, does the journalistic concept of "fair and balanced" involve balancing legitimate and correct information with batshit crazy dishonesty? And do those editors really give a shit that they occasionally print stuff they know is rubbish?
BY THE WAY, this goes way beyond just stupid letters to the editor that have been refuted over and over, again and again, repeatedly. It's the current plague of "he said, she said" journalism, in which the MSM seems to think that "fairness" simply involves just printing what two opposing parties have to say, then moving on. Glenn Greenwald described it best:
It isn't actually that complicated. When a government official or candidate makes a factually false statement, the role of the reporter is not merely to pass it on, nor is it simply to note that "some" dispute the false statement. The role of the reporter is to state the actual facts, which means stating clearly when someone lies or otherwise makes a false statement.
It's staggering that this most elementary principle of journalism is not merely violated by so many of our establishment journalists, but is explicitly rejected by them. That's the principal reason why our political discourse is so infected with outright falsehoods. The media has largely abdicated their primary responsibility of stating basic facts.
And, as you might recall, it's exactly what you saw from Little JoJo Bullshit Artist, who summed up the whole abortion/breast cancer "controversy" by writing:
Many readers here have disputed the breast cancer studies, but no one can dispute the fact that you had complications following your abortions, and that you had years of emotional pain to contend with afterwards.
Yes, well, fuck you too, JoJo, you lying sack of pus -- those commenters didn't just "dispute" those studies, they refuted and discredited them. But you see the pattern here -- some people said this, other people disagreed ... golly, I'm so confused. In other news ...
So ... are there any actual journos out there who want to weigh in and defend why your editors keep acting like such douchebags by printing crap that they know is crap? Because, seriously, I'd like to know.