Recently someone wrote to me criticizing the fact that I linked to a Matt Taibbi article at Rolling Stone. Their comment was a valid argument, so I posted it. I usually will respond in the comment line, but I think there is one thing in this particular comment that deserves to make its way into the larger conversation. The comment had to do with a Matt Taibbi Rolling Stone article that I linked to.
Their first sentence was: “You mean Matt Taibbi and the disgraced Rolling Stone.” Now if you don’t know the reason that Rolling Stone is deemed a disgrace, it is they printed an article about a rape at the University of Virginia. The main source for that article was discredited. A lot of reputations were damaged horribly in the process that shouldn’t have been. It was a black eye on the magazine, especially one that is known for it’s in-depth political reporting. (And shitty music journalism!) But to the best of my knowledge, it was only one article and no other modern investigative reports by the magazine have been disputed factually.
Because they got one article wrong, it does not mean that their other articles are wrong. It also certainly has nothing to do with Matt Taibbi. Imagine if you were working for a company delivering widgets. You do your job to the best of your ability. You always try to do your work with integrity. However, one of the other drivers that is delivering widgets is stealing a couple before they are delivered and therefore those widgets never make it to the distributor. Management, that has always been on top of things as far as you know, doesn’t notice that this one employee has been stealing until it is too late. Even though you work for the same company, this in no way has anything to do with your integrity. And although this will no doubt tarnish the reputation of the company for a period, this does not necessarily diminish the overall integrity of the company. The company will no doubt have to make some changes to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, but it is what it is; A one time incident that in reality does not accurately reflect all of the company’s employees or the operational integrity of the company at large. One bad apple does not mean that the orchard is rotten. If you can pick up a systematic pattern it would be different, but you can not judge an entire group for one incident. And certain members of that group, even if there was a systematic pattern, do not necessarily have anything to do with it anyway.
And this is something that reflects what often happens in our culture at large. Often those that are speaking truth to power have to jump 100% of the hurdles that are in front of them. If they trip on one, those that do not agree with them are going to be sure to use it against them to destroy their integrity, even if it is again one incident, however unfortunate, out of many. Distract, divide, and conquer. Muddy the waters so that no one believes anything they read anymore. Organizations that do investigative journalism have to be really strict while weighing the facts. This is not only because these organizations should morally and ethically not want to tarnish those that are innocent, which is obvious. This is also because those that don’t want the truth getting out there will use even the slightest breach as a way to hamstring their enemies.
Why do you think that Fox News, which has behaved unethically in a systematic way that can be proved, so often dwells on stories that are nothing but mere distractions? Why did Fox News make a mountain out of a molehill when it came to the story of Obama not putting down his latte when he was saluting a troop? If you can discredit him in some small way, that a portion of the public will be influenced by, you can use it to feed a larger narrative of misbehavior and anti-American sentiment. Again, those that try to operate using facts need to be right 100% of the time or their enemies will pick them apart. Meanwhile those that care nothing for facts only need to get that one image or that one outlier of a story to go to print with “damaging” facts. Truth is constantly under attack while liars run rampant.
And if my sentence structure is a bit befuddling, I apologize. I was on a booze cruise last night. My mind feels like a sponge that has been filled with bleach and then left to dry in the sun…does that discredit me?!!!