At first, I didn't really mind the Washington Post's decision to publish a "Five Myths" piece about Sarah Palin written by Palin sycophant Matthew Continetti. I mean, sure, it's a pointless waste of space to publish the Weekly Standard writer's contorted attempts to justify Palin's resignation as governor of Alaska because stepping down would mean "she would no longer be accused of neglecting her official duties." But coming from a paper that has taken to publishing one anti-gay rant after another in recent months, Continetti's laughable arguments are a welcome break from offensive arguments.
Then I saw Washington Post managing editor Raju Narisetti's explanation for how the Post chose Continetti:
The Five Myths About..series is one of our most popular weekend reads in print and online and has been an ongoing feature for a while. Sometimes it is about a topic (deficits) or a person (sarah palin, this week) or a company/service (Facebook). The editors of Outlook pick people who they think are best able to deal with the myths out there.
Really? The Washington Post thinks the person who is "best able to deal with the myths out there" about Sarah Palin is a knee-jerk Palin defender who managed to "debunk" only anti-Palin myths? Strange.
Even more strange, Continetti has a history of highly questionable defenses of Palin, like his repetition of her claim that ethics complaints against her cost Alaska $2 million (the state personnel board put the cost at $300,000.) Or his laughable assertion that Palin's claim to have told Congress "thanks but no thanks" for "bridge to nowhere funding" was "literally true." It wasn't. Not literally and not figuratively:
Palin was never in a position to reject the bridge. After authorizing funds to be spent specifically on the bridge project in August 2005, in an appropriations bill in November 2005, Congress earmarked the money for Alaska, but specified that it did not have to be spent on the bridge. Further, Palin did not refuse the funds or reimburse the federal government; as The Washington Post noted, "Palin's decision resulted in no savings for the federal government. The bridge money is being spent on other highway projects in Alaska." Moreover, when Palin "directed the Alaska Department of Transportation to find a less expensive alternative" to the bridge, her stated rationale was not that she thought it was a waste of money but, rather, that Congress was unwilling to appropriate more money to build it.
So, the Washington Post chose a person who actively perpetuates one of the original pro-Palin myths to write a piece debunking myths about Sarah Palin, because he is "best able to deal with the myths out there." I'd hate to see who the Post thinks is number two on that list. Bill Kristol?
(And then there's the time Continetti wrote that Sarah Palin and Tina Fey "could not be more dissimilar," because a fictional television character portrayed by Tina Fey is dissimilar to Palin. Clearly, the Post found a Palin scholar of the highest order in Matthew Continetti.)
For months, I've been trying to get key Washington Post journalists to answer a basic question: Does the Post think it is sufficient to occasionally debunk falsehoods, or does the paper believe it should do so every time it prints those falsehoods?
It's a simple question, but nobody seems to want to answer it. I've submitted that question to countless "Live Q&A" sessions hosted by Post media critic Howard Kurtz, executive editor Marcus Brauchli, and managing editors Raju Narisetti and Liz Spayd. But none of them have ever answered the question. Kurtz's refusal to do so is particularly glaring, as he ducked the question once by demanding an example of the Post failing to correct a falsehood -- and has subsequently ignored questions that contain such an example. (Here's some background.)
Narisetti is conducting a Q&A session at 1 PM today, so I'm trying yet again to get an answer. Here's the question I submitted earlier this morning:
This is roughly the 20th time I have submitted a variation on this question to Live Q&As held by you, Liz Spayd, Marcus Brauchli, and Howard Kurtz, so I hope you'll answer it: Does the Washington Post think it is sufficient to debunk false claims once, or does the Post think it should debunk false claims every time it prints them?
Mr. Kurtz has praised the Post's handling of the "Death Panels" lie -- but the Post has printed numerous articles that refer to "death panels" without making clear that the charge is false. (E.g.: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/27/AR2010022703446.html)
So, again: Do you think it is sufficient to debunk a false claim once, or should the Post do so every time it prints that claim?
If you'd like to submit your own version of this question, you can do so here.
UPDATE: Narisetti just wrapped up, and didn't see fit to answer my question, though he did find time to say the Post should have covered the bogus NBPP story sooner, to comment on the frequency of Live Q&A sessions, and to answer a subscriber's question about an undelivered newspaper.
I honestly have no idea why Posties would be so afraid of answering this simple little question.