Sunday, May 22, 2005

Okrent's Swan Song

I have only recently begun to read the Public Editor column in the NY Times Sunday Edition, but from what I have seen, I'm sorry to see Okrent go. As Eric pointed out in an earlier post, he delivered some perspective with regard to the difficulty of his job. My favorite part, however unsurprisingly, was the triple call-out of Dowd, Krugman and the now-retired William Safire.

Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults. Maureen Dowd was still writing that Alberto R. Gonzales "called the Geneva Conventions 'quaint' " nearly two months after a correction in the news pages noted that Gonzales had specifically applied the term to Geneva provisions about commissary privileges, athletic uniforms and scientific instruments. Before his retirement in January, William Safire vexed me with his chronic assertion of clear links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, based on evidence only he seemed to possess.

No one deserves the personal vituperation that regularly comes Dowd's way, and some of Krugman's enemies are every bit as ideological (and consequently unfair) as he is. But that doesn't mean that their boss, publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., shouldn't hold his columnists to higher standards.

I didn't give Krugman, Dowd or Safire the chance to respond before writing the last two paragraphs. I decided to impersonate an opinion columnist.
The last line was particularly funny, but I think out of the three editorialists, only Safire will be laughing at this well placed dig. Emphasis added above as a way to point out the only statement I disagree with.
-- Frank
***UPDATE***: Power Line comments on Okrent's piece as well.


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