New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane asked this morning “whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.”As was, I think, obvious to any calm, careful, competent reader, Brisbane was wondering about repeating assertions that politicians (and others) make about their thoughts and motivations, matters about which they have sole access. What can the reporter do? Insinuate disbelief? Pummel the newsmaker with pointless "Oh, really? Are you sure?"-type questions?
But left-wing bloggers acted like Brisbane had asked the head-slappingly stupid question "Should reporters care about truth?"
Brisbane sort of asked for it by writing "'facts'" — so I half-suspect he was setting a trap for the unwary. I'd like to ask him if he was trying to trick bloggers into paying attention to him. He'd probably say "Of course not. I was genuinely interested in what reporters should do about this pesky, recurrent problem." And then what would I say: "Oh, really? Are you sure?"?