Just One Minute
Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Monday, July 08, 2002

I Like to Think I’m An Even Tempered Guy.

It takes a lot to get under my skin. But the antics of Brendan Nyhan and Ben Domenech seem to make “blogger ethics” merit an entry onto a list of oxymorons right next to “military intelligence”, and I’m getting steamed.

Brendan first. Brendan has been covering the “Bush trifecta” story: Did Candidate Bush alert the nation to the possibility of a return to deficits in the event of war, recession, or national emergency? Brendan summarizes this at Spinsanity but stops with the July 2 revelation that a WaPo story described Lawrence Lindsey, chief Economic Advisor to the campaign, as having confirmed those caveats in August 2000. Does this let Bush off the hook, Brendan, or is the trifecta still a “lie Bush has been pushing”? We eagerly await your view.

But we even more eagerly await word from Ben Domenech as to the provenance of a mysterious AP article he quotes for a post on June 20. Ben's post quotes Tim Russert and seems to let Bush off the hook. But wait! The article doesn’t square with the debate transcript. OK, Ben backs off a bit. And more suspense! Although Ben claims to have found the AP/Russert article on Westlaw, other pilgrims and seekers of truth indicate by their comments that they cannot replicate his search and find it. On June 24, a flurry of activity: Spinsanity posts saying “Where is the AP/Russert piece”?; a thunderbolt from Insta-Zeus drags this dispute into the greater blogosphere; and Ben posts the full AP/Russert piece from the Boston Globe, possibly beating Spinsanity to the punch.

Is everybody satisfied? Hardly. Careful inspection of Ben’s comment section reveals an interlude where Brendan can’t find the AP/Russert piece, or any similar AP piece, or, apparently, his glasses. Snarky comments from disgruntled spectators break Brendan’s concentration, perhaps. But eventually, certain questions are posed on or about June 24, and remain unanswered two weeks later:

Why is Ben’s AP/Russert piece hosted on his server, and not, for example, an AP database or a Boston Globe database?

Why can’t other earnest bloggers find it on Westlaw, or with Lexis/Nexis?

Why is the piece labeled “page unavail. online”? I’m looking at it online. Ben says he found it online. Does “unavail.” mean something other than “unavailable”, and why is this so?

So again, puzzled questions litter Ben’s site. And yes, there was a holiday weekend, and people were away, and Insta-Zeus seems to have had a misfire with his bolt-generator. But it has been two weeks now, and a bit of resolution would be nice. Closure. Finality. I’m sure Ben has a logical explanation, but I’m not sure why it has taken so long and we still haven’t heard it.

Jane Galt seems to have endorsed the request of “Rock Me, Amygdala” for a bit of self-discipline here on the right hand side of the blogosphere. Hmmm. I work for no man. And no woman. But, as a sometime gentlemen, I might be able to oblige a lady. I have been following this since June 20, with the cheap shots in the comments section to prove it, and I would be delighted with answers from Brendan and Ben.

So here we are, a three-way duel in the desert. Does anyone else hear the theme from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”? It would fulfill a lifetime of dreaming if I get dibs on Clint Eastwood’s role. Ready, steady…….

UPDATE: Even as I was posting, Ben Domenech was responding to my queries at his site. Hmm, another lesson in patience for The MinuteMan. On the other hand, I am intransigent on the point that this should not have taken two weeks to resolve. And since I do not have access to the Westlaw search tools, other parts of his explanation are beyond my humble capabilities to evaluate. However, his explanation for the "page unavail. online" looks solid. As to the rest, maybe instead of Clint, I cast myself as Fox Mulder - I want to believe.

UPDATE 2: I have reservations about Brendan's quick accusation and quick reversal in Ben's comments, and I have several comments about that at Ben's site, some of them actually supportive of Brendan in a grey sort of way. But Brendan is certainly entitled to change his mind, or not, regarding "Bush lies", and is surely free to take time to evaluate evidence as it comes in. My sloppy writing should be blamed if I seemed to imply ethical misconduct in that regard.

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