New NYT public editor says it’s ‘absurd’ to debate whether journalists should challenge facts
The New York Times
Margaret Sullivan's first blog post on her first day as The New York Times' public editor mentions Gore Vidal, Jay Rosen and Jack Shafer, and it salutes Times reporter Michael Cooper for a "strong" piece about fact-checking, the suddenly voguish topic of meta-journalistic obsession. She also dings "false balance."
“I’ve tried hard to avoid false equivalence,” Mr. Cooper told me. “It can be trickier than it looks.” ...
“My reader e-mail is exploding,” he said. “The takeaway is that readers are hungry for context.”
They are looking to the press to point out misleading statements or the leaving out of key facts.
One Times reader tells Sullivan the headline on Cooper's article ("Campaigns Play Loose With Truth in a Fact-Check Age") is itself an example of false equivalency. Sullivan concludes:
Whatever the conclusions, whatever the effectiveness, of challenging facts, the idea that we have to debate the necessity of doing so strikes me as absurd.
Sullivan's first piece sharply contrasts one of her predecessor's most infamous pieces: Last January, Arthur Brisbane asked, "Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?" Among the many passionate responses to that question, here's Clay Shirky's: "This is not a hard question at all, considered from the readers’ perspective."
Brisbane later told Howard Kurtz, "I ended up as a pinata on this one."
Correction: This post originally botched Michael Cooper's first name.