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New Yorker Fact-checking Meets Columbia Journalism Ethics



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JPod, Nicholas Lemann also moved the goalposts in that shoddy paragraph:

“[T]he White House dispatched former Ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger, in February of 2002, to find proof that the country had shipped yellowcake uranium to Iraq. Wilson not only came up empty-handed; he said so publicly.”

Er, not quite. Who said anything about Niger “shipping” the stuff to Iraq? British Intelligence reported only that Saddam was attempting to acquire uranium from Africa. They stand by that report. But your e-mailers are right. That’s also what Joe Wilson found in Niger, and what he reported back to Washington.

Look at it from the point of view of The New Yorker’s famed multi-layered fact-checking regime. For Joe Wilson to be right, Bush, the CIA, the Senate Intelligence Committee, Lord Butler (in his report to the British government), MI6, the French and Italian intelligence services, Ibrahim Mayaki, Prime Minister to Niger’s strongman Major Wanke (please no tittering), and the Niger Mining Minister who briefed Wilson all have to be wrong. Alternatively, they’re right, and it’s Wilson who’s lying.

Yet Mister Journalism Ethics Professor and the fact-checked-to-death New Yorker have cheerfully published a paragraph that not only contains hardly anything that isn’t demonstrably false but never even hints that these are matters of dispute.

For all his connection to reality, “Joe Wilson” might as well be one of Chuck Schumer’s imaginary friends…



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