Sunday, July 25, 2010

Alboms in Glass Columns Shouldn't Throw Editorial Stones

Mitch Albom in his column In the Sherrod controversy, do shoot the messenger is in high dudgeon over the Brietbart / Shirley Sherrod matter:

Andrew Breitbart is the conservative blogger who posted the edited video of Sherrod. He put it on one of his five Web sites. Breitbart, a former Matt Drudge groupie, onetime E! Entertainment employee, and a guy who called Sen. Edward Kennedy, hours after his death, "a special pile of human excrement," hoisted that clip as evidence of reverse racism by the NAACP. He claimed the audience applauded such sentiments. The video showed no such thing. [Actually it does show them murmuring approval to those statements long before her speech gets to any redemptive statements]

But Breitbart lit the fire. He blew on the flames. As Sherrod would later tell CNN, "He knew exactly what would happen."

So Breitbart is where this sad story begins, where the blame lies and where the punishment should be doled out -- if there were any you could dole out.

Sadly, how do you punish a blogger like Breitbart? He simply slithers back into the muck that some confuse with journalism. Who does he have to answer to?

Some people have called this incident a referendum on racism. I don't think so. It was a referendum on editing. A referendum on Internet blogging. A referendum on our blazing desire for explosive moments -- even out of context -- and our creeping slowness to see the full picture.

This is the same Mitch Albom that back in 2005 got caught making up a story on a NCAA Final 4 Basketball game that he didn't even attend: Will Albom's woes taint journalism?
But Albom, who has been with the Free Press for 20 years, is taking a lashing from fellow journalists. They say he has revived the question of journalistic integrity after instances of deception by staffers at several major news outlets, including USA TODAY, The New York Times and CBS News.

In a column April 3, Albom described two former Michigan State basketball players, both now in the NBA, attending an NCAA Final Four semifinal game on Saturday. The players told Albom they planned to attend, and Albom, filing Friday before the game, wrote as if the players were there, including that they wore Michigan State green. But the players' plans changed and they never attended.

Free Press editors didn't change Albom's copy. Now they and Albom are under investigation by the newspaper.

Albom apologized in an April 7 piece in the Free Press. He wrote that the mention of Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson "was hardly the thrust of the column. ... Perhaps it seems as a small detail to you ... but details are the backbone of journalism, and planning to be somewhere is not the same as being there."

Albom could not be reached for comment.

The incident "has put the entire paper under a microscope. I think he was trying to do too much as a multimedia guru and took shortcuts, which was easy because he knew no one was going to challenge him," says Tom McPhail, a journalism professor at the University of Missouri. "Perhaps it is time to contemplate a journalism rehab institute. It looks like a growth industry, unfortunately."
So here we have a columnist who has on at least one occasion been caught inventing facts castigating a blogger that ran the only video he could get showing the NAACP audience endorsing Sherrod's tale of her past racially-tinged views / activities of the past.

Mitch Albom was probably the worst possible choice in the MSM to run a column castigating a blogger for not having editors to fact-check him. You'll note Mr. Albom is still working for the same paper where he got caught making up facts so perhaps he too is in his own words:
not held to any standard.

And that's the problem.

1 comment:

Murphy's Law said...

Don't forget the numerous lies and opinions disguised as facts back when Michigan was trying to pass Concealed Carry reform and Albom was using his position as a SPORTSWRITER to disseminate anti-gun propaganda. The guy will never have credibility or be considered a "journalist" again after that.

Mitch, if you read this...your reputation doesn't just grow back. You trashed yours for all time, fella. You'll always be a two-bit hack and there's nothing you can do to redeem yourself.