"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, January 17, 2011

Journalism 101

Here are two quotes from a New York Times article from Saturday's edition that purported to "look behind" the motives of Jared Loughner, the Tucson shooter.   See if you notice what's in the second one that's not in the first:
He became intrigued by antigovernment conspiracy theories, including that the Sept. 11 attacks were perpetrated by the government and that the country’s central banking system was enslaving its citizens. His anger would well up at the sight of President George W. Bush, or in discussing what he considered to be the nefarious designs of government.

A few days later, during a meeting with a school administrator, Mr. Loughner said that he had paid for his courses illegally because, “I did not pay with gold and silver” — a standard position among right-wing extremist groups. With Mr. Loughner’s consent, that same administrator then arranged to meet with the student and his mother to discuss the creation of a “behavioral contract” for him...
Obviously, what's in the second quote is an editorial comment (not news and not even news analysis) that a belief, even an irrational belief held by a madman, in the primacy of gold and silver as the true form of money, is a "standard position among right-wing extremist groups."   But there is no such comment in the first quote that a belief "that the September 11th attacks were perpetrated by the government" is a standard positoin among left-wing extremist groups, in fact, it is a position much more associated with the left than an odd clinging to the gold standard is associated with the right.    Hmmmmm.... I wonder why?   Could it be that the notoin that Loughner was a young lefty hurts the chosen narrative that the Tuscon shootings were the result of harsh right-wing, Tea Party rhetoric?

Another exhibit in why the New York Times is a dying institution. 

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