July 25, 2013

"I'm trying my best not to be cynical, but: Is subtracting context par for the course for NYT editorialists?"

"In this case it was almost as if the columnist was so eager to seize upon the Godwin's reference that she failed to even attempt to comprehend why Scalia said what he did, and instead relied on knee-jerk preconceptions to inform her judgement. If that's not the epitome of bias there, I don't know what is."

A comment, at an Instapundit post about my supplying the NYT with the context it missed. But I only had the context because when I wrote about the NYT piece, someone who was at the conference emailed me with a detailed account. That information wanted to be heard, and somehow I was the portal for it. I think the NYT had to be actively looking for crap to throw at Scalia and keeping its door shut to the flow of information. And I think my blogging the context only resulted in a correction because it was picked up by the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto, and that got the NYT's attention, but initially only to try to shrug off the problem:
Only joking. Ha ha. Get it. Joking about the Holocaust. Heh heh. What's the problem?

Taranto kept up the pressure:
"Ahhh, I did not realize your post was comedy!" And the NYT thought better of its don't-you-get-the-Holocaust-jokes stance and put up the correction.

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall, the other target of Taranto's tweet, stood his ground: "Again, anything in the Althouse post that in any way contradicts my post? Or are you just trolling?" And: "Hey Jim, You might want to read what I actually wrote since nothing in that post contradicts it." That is: So what if I left out the context as long as I didn't have any incorrect statements?

Context is a funny topic. Remember when Andrew Breitbart was pilloried for quoting Shirley Sherrod out of context?

Context itself must be understood in context.
If your rules about putting quotes in context depend on whether you're quoting people you like or people you hate, then you are a hack. I think both Marshall and Lapidos showed themselves to be hacks here, but at least Lapidos or the organization that controls her is ashamed when exposed and tries to cover its tracks. Marshall is out and proud.