Thursday, January 01, 2009

Wrestling With Integrity And Common Sense



Via @jayrosen, this item from the Washington Post's White House Columnist Dan Froomkin seems like a good example of a rot in journalism.

After eight years, we’ve gotten used to having a president whose credibility is shot, whose policy apparatus is utterly politicized, and whose decision-making process is completely opaque. So what do we do with President Obama? Do we treat him with the same skepticism with which we learned to approach Bush? If not, how do we hold him accountable? These are some of the issues I’m wrestling with as I prepare to make the transition from Bush to Obama – and I’d welcome your input.

I'm not sure I understand why this is even a question. Indeed, it would seem to me that it would be grounds for immediate dismissal. Imagine if a scientist - heck, a freshman in science class - said something similar:

We got used to experiments not turning out exactly as the hypothesis suggested over the last 8 years, so we've learned to be skeptical, always testing claims and checking results. So what do you think we should do with the next hypothesis? Should we use the scientific method again? I'm wrestling with that question.

If there is a central problem with journalism, it is the lack of skepticism. Especially as it applies to government. Politicians and political organizations are not held to account for contradictory statements, false predictions and claims.

Why did it take a Washington Post reporter so many years to learn skepticism, and why would he ever discard skepticism?

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