Dispatches From the Moderate Left

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Quote of the Week

Terry Lane, an Age journalist, recently disgraced himself by repeating a story about Jesse Macbeth, someone who claimed that he was a US soldier who had been attached to a US death squad in Iraq which went around comitting war crimes with the aim of striking fear into the heart of Iraqis. This story was exposed as a hoax over two months ago but Terry had obviously ran across an old story on the internet which hadn't got around to retracting it (as, for example, Socialist Alternative did with a Macbeth interview they had posted).

The Age Editor, in his infinite wisdom, has decided to reject Terry Lane's resignation. You might think this was because Terry Lane had offered some plausible reason for why he had printed such an inflammatory hoax story, but his explanation actually made him look worse from where I'm sitting:
Journalists are supposed to be professionally sceptical and I am so ashamed I believed the Jesse Macbeth video and the reason I did that was because I wanted to believe what it said.

If I didn't know the source, I'd think that last line was some sort of bad parody of the "blame America first" left. That he admits that he actually wants to believe that America is sending out death squads with the express aim of torturing Iraqis and striking fear into the heart of the countries citizens is bad enough. That he has so little respect for any sort of journalistic ideals (objectivity, checking sources, neutral point of view) that his bizzare personal desire to paint America in such a bad light translates into uncritical printing of this sort of hoax further destroys any shred of respect he could still command. And that the Age's editor doesn't think this is a good enough reason to take him off his payroll doesn't completely destroy my respect for the paper, but it sure dints it a bit.

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