The Corner

The James Asher School of Journalism

James Asher is the investigative editor at McClatchy’s Washington bureau. As such, he has been the point man for answering criticism of McClatchy’s apparently false report regarding racial epithets yelled at members of the Congressional Black Caucus ahead of the Obamacare vote. The good folks at Powerlineblog have been chronicling the back-and-forth with Asher as he digs in his heels and refuses to consider a correction. Asher’s reason?  “[I] can’t believe that anyone – congressman or garbageman – would make up this fact that one of the nastiest racist terms was hurled.”

Simply put, while McClatchy’s motto is “Truth to Power,” Asher relies on the assumption that congressmen always tell the truth.

So, in the spirit of understanding what this means to McClatchy, a few other stories Asher can publish and upon which he can stake the reputation of McClatchy reporters:

1.   “Guam is sinking.” Rep. Hank Johnson (D., Ga.) said it, that’s good enough for me.

2.   “Aliens visit earth, stalk Denis Kucinich.” After all, Rep. Denis Kucinich (D., Ohio) says it’s true.

3.   “Robert Mugabe is blameless in Zimbabwe’s collapse.” Nothing to see here: Forget the famine, forget the thuggery, forget the hyperinflation. Mugabe was just righting wrongs. After all, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D., Ga.) said so.

4.   “Television broadcasts began years earlier than we realized.” After all, Joe Biden said Franklin D. Roosevelt got on TV to explain the stock market crash in 1929, even though commercial broadcasts only began the next decade.

5.   “The Cold War never happened.” Either that, or Gerald Ford was trying the old (then-undiscovered) Jedi Mind Trick when he declared in a 1976 debate, “There is no Soviet dominance of Eastern Europe.”

In its efforts to put politics above the basic who, what, when, where, and why of journalism, McClatchy has become a joke, and a rather sad one at that.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.


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