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CSotD: Opinions, and other things everyone has

I’ve got nothing against Steve Breen and am only using his cartoon because he makes a specific claim that can be argued against.

The more-than-half-a-dozen other cartoons on the topic simply accuse the New York Times of being incompetent and rushing to be unfair to Brett Kavanaugh without actually explaining how.

When someone screams “I hate you! You’re a doodoo head!” it’s protected opinion and far too vague to refute anyway.

A lot of cartoonists all screamed “doodoo head” at once, but only Breen offered some kind of toehold for a discussion, which is his contention that an editor’s sloppy handling of copy amounts to a “high-profile blunder.”

He’s mostly right: The NYTimes is one of the most important news organizations in the country, so anything it does is “high-profile,” while a story establishing that a nominee for the US Supreme Court purposefully, deliberately and repeatedly perjured himself is certainly a high-profile story.

It’s in characterizing the error where he leaves himself open to debate: It was a foolish mistake that shouldn’t have happened, but it happened in the editing, not in the reporting, and, either way, it did virtually nothing to change the charges being laid.

The reporters had said, both in their book and in the story that ran in the paper, that, while several people knew of one of the incidents being described and had made themselves available to the FBI, the feds violated standard operating procedure and never contacted them. They added that the woman at the center of the incident did not, herself, remember it.

And, as they told Terry Gross on Fresh Air, it’s not unusual for trauma victims to block out elements of their experience. In fact, a clear and consistent memory is one of the keys to detecting fraud.

However, in preparing the piece, an editor, following NYTimes policy on not identifying victims of sex crimes, deleted not just the woman’s name but the entire sentence.

That’s stupid — mostly the policy, but also the edit — however, it’s not so much of a blunder as a goof-up, which they immediately fixed. And, fixed or not, it had only tangential impact on the overall story.

But you’d have thought the NYTimes mistook Biff for Squee for all the hoopla and celebration from loyalists to the regime.

“The wounded governor’s name is spelled ‘Connelly,’ not ‘Conley’!
Therefore, President Kennedy has not been shot!”

Perhaps one of the discussions we need to have about newspapers no longer employing editorial cartoonists is that you end up with editorial cartoonists who have no idea how competent journalism works.

This was not a major blunder. It had no impact on the veracity of the story. None.

As for all those other outraged cartoons, whether reporting things that upset Dear Leader is “smearing” anyone remains a matter of opinion, in a world where the President’s advisers feel they are under no obligation to be honest with the press, and, by extension, with the citizens of our country.

We’re even entitled to our own opinions about those sorts of opinions.

For now.

 

For instance, I suspect “Heart of the City” is off on a fun story arc, with Heart apparently about to run for Student Government on a student-power ticket.

And it’s my opinion that kids should be able to choose their own books to report on, perhaps with some guidelines. (Note that she says “they’re making me read,” not “they’re making us read.”)

But it’s also my opinion that “Lord of the Flies” is damned timely at the moment. It’s that book where 20 nice kids hold endless debates to decide who should be chosen to hold the conch, while the nasty choir boys just come down and bash their heads in.

And, at the risk of dropping a spoiler, note that the bullies were on the verge of total victory when the grown-ups suddenly appeared on the scene and fixed everything.

It’s my opinion that we’re fresh out of deus-ex-machina grown-ups.

It’s also my opinion that there’s a reason so few dystopic novels have happy endings, and that perhaps the kids should be reading them in social studies, not language arts.

 

My computer has been feeling poorly lately, and I had only taken a portion of critical things from it when, this morning, it became a brick.

Fortunately, I have a backup computer, which is to say, a not-much-healthier one which I had retired before it gave up the ghost entirely. But that meant its bookmarks were a couple of years old, which was an interesting lesson in the mortality of webcomics, since several of them came up 404.

However, I was delighted to see Boulet pop up intact, since I’d given up on him ever updating again. I knew he was still active; I see him en francais on Twitter, but seeing a full-sized, full-length, translated-into-English cartoon was both a surprise and a shock.

Also, it’s a really good piece, but that goes without saying.

He doesn’t date his pieces, but I checked the comments and this one has only been up a few days: The comments are dated Sept 4-13 and say how happy they are that he’s back.

So I looked at the last one he had posted, and the comments there are from September of last year. It’s been a year.

Leaving the awful chance that he’s decided one cartoon every September is sufficient.

C’est nais pas mon avis.

 

Finally, Betty is exploring whether there is a place for magazines any more.

Some magazines are full of short little articles that should have been posted online.

Others are full of long articles that should have been edited down into mid-sized articles. When I moved from magazines to newspapers, the push for being concise made me embarrassed about the self-indulgent rambling I’d been doing.

Then again, I’ve bought some books that should have been edited into over-long magazine articles.

Which would work, because those old jokes about not hauling your computer into the bathroom went out when Fires and Kindles and smartphones came in.

Community Comments

#1 Sean Martin
September/18/2019
@ 11:54 am

The thing I find vaguely amusing about the whole NYT dust-up is that those on the right are screeching that, because she doesnt remember, it didnt happen. Of course, she was drunk at the time, so yes she probably doesnt.

However, so was he, according to reports, and he doesnt remember either.

So he gets to not-remember doing something while she doesnt. Got it.

#2 Dick Dragovich
September/18/2019
@ 12:58 pm

Really?

I thought you were more about good reporting than creating a narrative. That the woman would not comment for the book or article was about the only fact that could be verified. In my mind it is information that must be reported and then we are allowed to decide.

2.The NYT has some very creative people.Fat fingering editing her name out of the article has about a 60% chance of being a made up excuse.

#3 Mike Peterson
September/18/2019
@ 2:18 pm

Yeah, I’m just a dupe. Spent 45 years in the business and don’t know how it works.

I repeat — misspelling Connelly’s name doesn’t mean JFK wasn’t shot.

#4 Tara Gallagher
September/19/2019
@ 8:16 am

I thought the Times’ Major Blunder in question was the “harmless fun” tweet about the article.
(“Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun, but when Brett Kavanaugh did it to her, Deborah Ramirez says, it confirmed that she didn’t belong at Yale in the first place”)

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