Badger me into responding to a particular post…
Why do I say that? Partially because I allow trackbacks to be displayed inline with the text of each post at Wizbang. Even posts trashing us are allowed to send trackbacks. If you’ve got something to say about a particular Wizbang post the mechanisms are in place (comment and trackbacks) to get your point across. If that’s not enough you can send me an e-mail with a link to your post. The problem with the e-mail method is that I get (literally) hundreds post pitches each day, which means most do not get responses.
So I submit that demanding that I (or any blogger) address some issue is a bit rude. With that bit of background in place, here’s an e-mail I recently received:
I am as against carelessness and liberal media bias in the MSM as anyone, but I don’t believe carelessness, or a right wing bias in alternative media is the answer. Unfortunately, that’s what I feel I saw here [NY Times Crying Over Baby 81] and I was hoping this might at least prompt a positive discussion of the issue. I admire and read Wizbang, who is also getting a copy of this. However, below represents my honest response to their recent posting, one which is getting attention within the blogging community. Full post enclosed. My apologies for any intrusion. Thank you. – Dan
The problem was the tone of the post certainly doesn’t seem in line with the “prompting a positive discussion” description. I read all my e-mail, but I’m not able to respond to most of it – I didn’t respond to Dan’s e-mail.
In this case I did read the e-mail, and actually read the post in question. The problem was (and still is) that in his original post Dan frankly didn’t make a lot of sense. He claimed that Wizbang was not “reporting” on the ground in Sri Lanka and the New York Times was. Though technically true I’m not sure why that’s a problem. In this case Paul was bringing attention to an article from a Sri Lankan source about a 22 page decision by a local judge that contained detailed information about misreporting by a New York Times reporter. The story Paul linked to was not particularly well written, and Paul’s effort was a bit labored in trying to find links and capture the essence of the original report in a blockquote. Paul’s assertion was that New York Times reporter Somini Sengupta was guilty of at the least sloppy reporting and at worst fraudulent reporting. He doesn’t make the case that it was fraudulent, but puts the premise out into the wider blogosphere that a Sri Lankan judge who has examined the Baby 81 case extensively affixes blame for the resulting hysteria on reporters – specifically Sengupta. Further investigation by the Times would seem warranted.
Dan provide two quotes as “proof” that Paul was wrong and the reporting is fine. The first was a quote from a doctor who said nine families claimed the Baby 81. Dan later links to other reports where the doctor is quoted as saying 15 families claimed the baby. I’ll have to hand to to Dan, he does the legwork to disprove his own thesis, as the doctors credibility is called into question by the varied accounts, but in case he missed it the very same doctor is clarified his position at the end of the Lanka Business Online’s article as such:
But the doctor himself later told reporters that all he said was that a lot of people showed “interest” in the child. It is quite different from claiming the child as their own.
The second quote Dan offers is even less telling, as it is from the actual parents of Baby 81, which doesn’t shed any light on who those other 8 families are. Both quotes come from the stories of Somini Sengupta in the New York Times, whose reporting was called into question. In case the absurdity of that is not readily apparent, consider that how easy it would be to prove the veracity of Jayson Blair’s reporting by using Jayson Blair articles as references.
When I sent the following message in response to his original message: “Well you’re wrong about the Duluth News Tribune… In case you weren’t paying attention that’s content from the NYT by the author in question.” His reply was this.
No, Kevin, I’m sorry but I am not wrong. And what you point out is only further proof of the posts inaccuracies. Did you read Paul’s post with any objectivity? Yes, the Times certainly said the National Papers, the sri Lanka papers were all over the story. What Paul did was create a hyperlink to a DOmestic paper picking up the story on Jan 26. All that does is further the misrepresentation.
I have praised you and Wizbang when you get it right, much as you have done in this past and hope to do again. But this one is wrong, Kevin. Please don’t insult me for “not paying attention.” It’s pretty clear who wasn’t paying attention when reading that passage. And it wasn’t me.
Oh really? The problem with a snotty response such as this is that if you flat out state that you’re not open to the possibility that you may be wrong why should I bother to continuing the discussion? It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I didn’t respond.
At this point since neither I nor Paul were replying to his satisfaction – he started publishing (and misquoting) our e-mail and comments. I’ve published his messages to me to try explain why I finally addressed him and to provide a glimpse a portion of the behind the scenes traffic.
In response to his original point I’ll try explain the sentence in question and the hyperlink. Here is the paragraph:
The New York Times said national newspapers had carried “almost daily narratives” about the baby’s fate. Wrong. The national press jumped on the band wagon much later.
First of all every single word in the paragraph is from the Lanka Business Online’s article. That’s important, but it’s a point that Dan continues to miss.
The hyperlink is to the Duluth News Tribune. Dan thinks that Paul is using that link as an example of the “national press” carrying the story. He objects that the “national press” in question is Sri Lankan not American. Since every single word in the paragraph is from the Lanka Business Online (not Paul) the national press should rightly be assumed to be Sri Lankan. Dan thinks the link is supposed to signify the American national press accounts. He cannot fathom the possibility that it it otherwise, even though in my e-mail response to him I tried to get across my point – that I think he misunderstood it.
If you follow the link you’ll note that it is a New York Times article by Somini Sengupta. Dan refuses to understand that the New York Times archive is locked for pay access only, hence Paul linked to the article as it was published in another paper without such restrictive archive policies. If you examine paragraph four of the linked article you see the following (emphasis mine):
So far, nine couples have claimed him as their own son. Some among them have threatened suicide if the baby is not delivered into their arms. Countless other parents who lost their babies to the tsunami have also rushed in to see if Baby No. 81 is theirs. The national newspapers have carried almost daily narratives about his fate. The hospital has been so mobbed that for a while, the staff hid the baby in the operating theater every night for his own protection.
In case it’s not obvious – and it certainly wasn’t for Dan so I’ll spell it out – Paul was linking to the published source of the phrase almost daily narratives.
For attempting to point that single error out to Dan, Wizbang has been accused of everything from slander (hard to do on a blog, easy to do if we were podcasters) to plagiarism, all the while demanding that I respond to his criticism on his terms.
Well Dan I hope you’re happy now…
Update: Dan does appear happy that he’s managed to goad Paul into a post mocking him – which is perhaps what he wanted all along – knowing that Paul would respond to the misquoting and demands of a response harshly. That’s given Dan and excuse to move the goal posts and start the lunacy again.
He’s going to be playing with himself from now on however…