Looking it up
Hey all you aspiring journalists out there, this week's Time magazine has a lesson for you in how not to report a story. I don't usually read Time or pay much attention to Joe Klein and this is a great example of why. It has been covered elsewhere, but I just happened to see the offending article this morning at work and figured I would add my two cents worth.
Klein's profile of Akansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and his religious faith quotes the Gov. as saying: "I'm a 'grace' Christian, not a 'law' Christian. The Second Commandment -- do unto others -- is the basic tenet of my faith."
One small problem, the Second Commandment, the one off the top ten list that Charleton Heston, I mean Moses brought down the mountain, has to do with not worshipping false idols. "Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You" is the golden rule, it isn't part of the Ten Commandments.
Conservative apologists, after they get finished ranting about heathen pinkos hating Huckabee for daring to be a born again Christian and accusing the godless libruls of playing "gotcha" with the holy word of God, usually insist that what Huckabee was referring to was a passage in the New Testament's Gospel of Matthew
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” –Matthew 22:36-40
"Love thy neighbor as thyself" is not the same as the golden rule, so we can see that this defence is basically bullshit. Huckabee just doesn't have that firm a grasp on his biblical references.
My purpose here is not to suggest that Huckabee isn't a good Christian or that Christians who don't know their bible shouldn't be president or that he thinks the original Ten Commandments only apply to Jews or anything like that. Admittendly, I would prefer the leader of the free world be a little less superstitious than the present White House occupant, who thinks that God chose him to be president and that his close personal buddy Jesus talks to him, but I don't think being religious should disqualify you from holding public office. In fact, I don't really care about Huckabee and I doubt he will be the Republican nominee -- he talks too much about helping the poor and not enough about smiting evildoer (like someone else who can to a bad end) to get elected president.
My purpose is to point out what a useless hack Joe Klein is.
When an interview subject makes such a blatant factual error as misattributing a pithy quote, a reporter can either correct or question the interviewee on the spot if they catch the error - or they can point out the error to the interviewee prior to publication when they go back to the office and look up the reference and give them a chance to retract or modify their statement. If you really want to play gotcha, you can just report what they said and point out the error in print, but that is fairly lame unless the interviewee has a history of talking crap and pretending to he doesn't know what he's talking about.
If you are Joe Klein and you don't bother fact-checking things that politicians say to you, you could just build your whole story around the botched reference, using the egregious error to coin a catchy new term that will catch on as a buzzword with the ignorant right and title the article "The Second Commandment Republicans" --- Then you'd be a useless hack worthy of TIME.
"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Looking it up