novelist | journalist | istist

Dissecting the news of cheering New Jersey Muslims

Meanwhile … the liberal elites in their New York penthouses clack away on their Underwood Standard No. 5s, last used in earnest when President Taft waddled the White House halls.

These drive-by media types, with their penchant for entirely-too-long feature stories sympathetic to Syrian refugee babies and nine-toed communist shoemakers, are far too busy concocting the perfect appletini to bother with the drudgery of flyover country.

That little fantasy seems to be the narrative among critics of the news media.

It’s kind of like saying all lawyers are “jerks” or all cops are “control freaks” or all podiatrists are “ankle-sniffing perverts.”

Two outta three ain’t bad.

Understood: there are some crummy reporters and editors out there.

There are also a great many news media types who work hard every day to make sure communities across the globe have accurate information delivered to their doorsteps and digital devices.

Certainly Stephen Glass deserved to be ridiculed and effectively barred (there’s no such thing as being “barred” from journalism but you get the point) from journalism after he was caught cooking stories for The New Republic in 1998.

Jayson Blair was canned from the New York Times for plagiarism and inventing portions of stories.

And, now, we have Donald Trump citing an event that never happened—thousands of New Jersey Muslims holding rooftop tailgating parties while the World Trade Centers fell—but that somehow made it into a news story, so-called, in The Washington Post.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad at The Donald.

He’s a professional pundit.

His job is to say loud, crazy things while people dump wheelbarrows full of money at his feet.

My concern is that this sloppy reporting, by a reporter who apparently never learned the concept of attribution, only lends credence to the folks who say we don’t take our jobs seriously enough.

The passage from Serge Kovaleski’s Sept. 18, 2001, Washington Post article in question claimed that, “law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the (9/11/2001) attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.”

I’m going to break this down for you while I try my best not to put my foot through the TV next to my desk.

  1. “[L]aw enforcement authorities.” What law enforcement authorities? You make a claim as potentially earth-shattering as this and you can’t take the two minutes it requires to call the local police chief or county sheriff or county prosecutor or homeland security press secretary or New Jersey State Trooper—assuming they have New Jersey State Troopers—to confirm this actually occurred?
  2. Which police agency investigated? How many people were detained and questioned? Was anybody arrested? This is a huge story in itself. I can’t wait for the follow-up. What do you mean there was no follow-up?
  3. If you detain and question “a number” of people, there has to be some record somewhere that it happened. What, no record?
  4. This is a very specific claim of something which occurred. It’s so specific the writer and his editors allowed it to go to press as a fact. So, who told the journalist that this happened? Even if this was merely a rumor, the story’s author must have heard it somewhere. I mean, it’s not like reporters ever invent major portions of stories.

Anyways, the point is that there are some lazy and deceitful journalists out there just like there are some bad lawyers, lousy cops, irresponsible doctors.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: