Monday, September 3, 2007

We're All Bozos on This Bus

The McLaughlin Group debated the whole blogs vs. traditional journalism thingie, pontificating away. In addition to McLaughlin, panelists included Pat Buchanan, now of MSNBC, who has dealt with the media since the Nixon years; Ana Marie Cox of Wonkette/Time fame; someone who has written some type of book (printed, that is) about the new media; and someone else who is probably really earth-shattering but I don't realize it.

The whole debate was crystallized in some conversation about the CNN/YouTube candidate debate. I didn't watch the debate originally because (if you didn't already realize it) I think all of the candidate stuff going on right now is pointless and ridiculous.

Anyway, McLaughlin aired the question that got Clinton and Obama into a non-conservation about talking to Cuba, Syria, and other axes of evil. The question was proudly asked from Diamond Bar, California. Since embedding of this question was banned by request, we'll have to rely on an old-style transcript:

In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since.

In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?

The nattering nabobs of television pontificated about the question, the excellence of the question, the fact that traditional journalism would never ask the question, the fact that this question was probably the cream of the crop of YouTube questions, etcetera. Meanwhile, I am getting bugged out of my gourd because of two issues.

First, Anwar Sadat never went to Israel in 1982. As John Bracken noted back in July:

The post-debate brouhaha has ignored the way [Stephen] Sixta prefaced his question: “spirit of” the “bold leadership” that Anwar Sadat demonstrated in his trip to Israel. (Sixta placed the visit in 1982; it actually occurred in 1977. [Update: Wasn’t CNN’s supposed to be the gate-keeping fact-checker?]

Second, speaking of fact-checking, none of these captains of new or old media made any comment on the date error. Whether you're a wonkette or a televisionist, apparently the fact that the question contained a glaring factual error just wasn't all that important.

So much for accuracy.

Or perhaps the dead Sadat did go to Israel in 1982, in which case this whole question takes on even deeper shades of meaning.

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