Time Magazine has launched a Washington political blog, where at least one of the staffers posting to the site shows how he doesn’t get the medium at all — and perhaps needs remedial work in basic journalism, too.
In this posting, entitled “The Clinton Playbook,” Jay Carney wrote, among other things:
In late 1994 and early 1995, President Clinton was in free fall. His aides despaired. They worried he might never recover from the shellacking the Democrats took in the 1994 mid-term elections. His approval ratings were mired in the 30’s, and seemed unlikely to rise. When Clinton delivered his State of the Union address in January 1995, his first with Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole seated behind him as Speaker and Senate Majority Leader, he looked out at an audience of Democrats who blamed him for losing their majorities and of Republicans who were already convinced he would be a one-term president…
There are two glaring errors in that paragraph, which commenters pointed out almost immediately. First, Clinton’s approval ratings were considerably higher than that at the time. Second, the vice president and House speaker sit behind the president at the State of the Union speech. The Senate Majority Leader (Dole in those days) does not.
The comments were often unfriendly, to be sure, and sometimes downright stupid in their hostility. But Carney’s response made things worse.
He didn’t correct his errors in the original piece — a no-no in any journalistic book. And then, in this posting, where he grudgingly admitted his mistake (and tried to salvage credibility by noting the Clinton’s approval ratings had gone below 40 percent briefly in 1993, more than a year before the time he’d asserted in the other posting, he compounded his problems by writing:
Amazingly, some Swampland readers seem to think my earlier post about President Bush’s State of the Union address was too sympathetic to Bush, which proves nothing but that the left is as full of unthinking Ditto-heads as Limbaugh-land.
As one commenter then wrote, accurately: “Journalism is supposed to be about accuracy. The proper response to someone who points out an error is to say ‘Thank you’ and then correct the error.”
The original posting remains uncorrected, incidentally.