3) Toadying for a colleague. Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic put out an early item on the Norway deaths called "Mumbai Comes to Norway." It also assumed that al Qaeda was to blame. Many on the left have asserted with increasing rancor that I am a craven toady, loyal to the Atlantic's corporate interests above all else, for not lumping him with the Post column I criticized.
Here are the differences: Jeff Goldberg's initial posting, when I saw it for the first time, contained something the Post item did not: a "we can't be sure what's happening" paragraph, thus:
>>Of course, this could an act of right-wing extremism, perhaps in
reaction to the rise of radical Islamism in Europe. I'm as confused as
the rest of you are about the authorship of these attacks. There have
been early claims of responsibility by jihadist groups, followed by
denials, followed by reports that a blonde "Nordic-looking" man was the
one who opened fire on the youth camp. Was this "Nordic-looking" man an
Adam Gadahn-type, or someone not motivated by jihadist ideology? Stay
Then, through the day, he kept updating his original post as new information came in, even as the Post item stood uncorrected and unchanged. Also, while he said in his first item that he hoped the event would not drive Norway out of Afghanistan, he was not using his assumptions about the event to attack people he disagreed with, unlike the Post column.
Was I alone in thinking that the Washington Post item was unusually egregious? No. Stephen Colbert talked about it, and had a picture of Rubin, on his first show after the attacks.
He also mentioned rush-to-judgment examples from Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, but he said nothing about Jeffrey Goldberg. Presumably he had reasons other than being an Atlantic company-man toady for making that distinction. So I am proud to say that I show news judgment at least as sound as Stephen Colbert's. [Note to the aggrieved: this is a joke.]
A twist in this story emerged when a reader/blogger found a cached copy of an early version of Goldberg's first post, which did not include the caveat paragraph that I quote above and that was part of his post when I first read it. The assumption in that blog entry, which has spread to other sites, is: Goldberg posted an "al Qaeda did it!" item like Rubin's; he saw that things were changing and added a CYA caveat; but to really cover his tracks, he didn't label it as an "update," so as to give the false impression that it had been there from the start.
Jeffrey Goldberg has explained, in an update-update, that the initial lack of an "update" label was a mistake rather than a deception. He was on the road, by car in upstate New York and Vermont, and was having trouble connecting. He filed the post, erased part of it inadvertently (this has happened to me) when adding later updates, and refiled it piecemeal. He says:
>>A number of readers have pointed out that my previous caveat give the
impression that it was an instantaneous caveat, when in fact it wasn't.
It was written a short while after the original post went up, and was
labeled "Update" originally (I've since affixed the word "update" to it
again. What happened was that I was driving and had connectivity
problems, and so when I added further updates (below), I inadvertently
erased the whole post, and had to rescue it from a Word document, but in
re-posting that word document (or most of it -- I saved only most of
it) I dropped the word "update," along with a couple of other things.<<
His critics assume that of course he is flat-out lying, and that I am his enabler in accepting the lie so as not to embarrass our company.