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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Howell's Howler's II

Deborah Howell is at it again. In attempting to defend the outrageous editorial "A Good Leak" Deborah Howell choses to point to an equally factually challenged editorial on Iran.

She writes

Some readers think it's a scandal when two parts of the newspaper appear to be in conflict with each other, but it's not that unusual that reporting -- particularly in news and editorial -- will depend on different sources. It happened again last week when an editorial and a story gave different estimates for how long it might take Iran to build a nuclear bomb.

This would be an excellent point, if her aim had been to prove that the Washington Post editorial board's contempt for facts is scandalous. However she argues the contrary. The example she chose proves that her explanation is nonsense. The different estimates for how long it might take Iran to build a nuclear bomb were based on the exact same source, which was correctly quoted on the news pages and incorrectly quoted in the editorial.

The editorial wrote "Some in Washington cite a U.S. intelligence estimate that an Iranian bomb is 10 years away. In fact the low end of that same estimate is five years, " This is totally absolutely false. The editorial board did not rely on a different source than the news article. They made a demonstrably false claim about an official document as John in DC demonstrates by quoting, you guessed it, the Washington Post. This shows (again) that the people who write editorials at the Post don't bother getting the facts right.

If Howell wishes to prove that this pattern of gross error is not proof of total irresponsibility at the Washington Post, she should find examples from other newspapers. No the Wall Street Journal doesn't count, unless she aims to prove that he editorial board of the Post has managed to equal the irresponsibility and dishonesty of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal.

As Mark Kleiman says. They have the right to their own opionions but not the right to their own facts.

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