A funny thing about courage
When I was 14, I went to scout camp.
The scoutmaster I went up there with said something which stuck with me: a real man admits his mistakes.
I don't like to talk about myself, and the fact that I've been stalked online, means no pictures, no bio online. But I've worked in journalism on and off since 1986, like a lot of people, famous and not famous. There is no test, no licensing. But I've done enough reporting in odd places like the UN and the Plaza to know the difference between sloppy reporting and good reporting, courage and cowardice. People have tried to get me fired, and I've worked on more deadlines than I care to remember. Even now, there's a midnight posting deadline here. I post seven days a week, home and away. And God knows, I've pissed people off.
But I never thought it was OK to lie about someone and call it journalism.
You know I've spent this weekend building models and going to museums, not worrying about TNR. Because I thought they would do the right thing. Instead I found they didn't have the courage to do so. I pity Frank Foer, having placed his reputation in the hands of Jason Zengerle. Because those are shaky hands to be in. At least Foer knows I'm a man of my word. He has no such assurance for his reporter.
That's disappointing. As I said, this isn't a matter of lawyers. Because, despite the numerous suggestions, and offers of help, that I get one and get these people under oath, in the end the law is no solution. So Marty Peretz can send me $50K in a settlement? That's how these things end. People get paid and it all goes away. But nothing changes
This is about a moral and ethical choice. Yes, burning a source is a very big deal, but why would they protect a liar? They're reading the comments here, and half my posters think Zengerle made this up on his own. Talk about a hanging curve ball. Frank Foer knows he's gonna face this again, and his refusal to do the right thing now is going to haunt him and TNR. Zengerle's credibility and a $1 will get you a dirty water dog near Central Park. But it won't get you a credible story.
If TNR thinks their pathetic, cowardly apology is acceptable, that is their choice. But they will be renminded of that choice many times in the future, by many different people, for many different reasons. Hiding behind a liar is a short term solution with a long term consequence.
They have chosen to be known as a home for fiction in the guise of fact, the protectors of the dishonest. Frank Foer has said he won't say any more about this, however, I think when he appears in public, he will be asked about this. I think this will be an issue as long as it is an issue. He runs a publication where reporters don't confirm e-mails and print lies. One does not live
that down easily
Personally, I'm embarassed for them. They still think Kos's ethics are the issue. Unfortunately for them, no one else does.
posted by Steve @ 12:39:00 AM