Saturday, February 21, 2009

George Will's Habit of Invention


The blogger Digby popularized the use of the phrase "The Village" to describe Washington media elites. The mocking nickname was inspired by a 1998 Washington Post article by Sally Quinn about Washington's reaction to the Lewinsky scandal. Quinn quoted David Broder saying of Clinton's effect on Washington: "He came in here and he trashed the place ... and it's not his place." And: "The judgment is harsher in Washington. We don't like being lied to." Others -- journalists like David Gergen and Chris Matthews alongside politicians like Joe Lieberman -- echoed the sentiment that The Village just couldn't tolerate Clinton's lies.

It was all bunk, of course. The Village hated -- and, it must be noted, lied about -- the Clintons long before anyone, Bill Clinton included, had ever heard of Monica Lewinsky. And needless to say, other politicians have both had extramarital sex and told lies without drawing The Village's scorn.

So it's laugh-out-loud funny to suggest that Washington -- specifically, the newsrooms of Washington -- is filled with journalists of such reverence for the truth and honesty that they simply could not accept someone who told a lie. It certainly never manifested itself during the Bush administration -- Broder, for one, famously suggested that Clinton should have resigned because "he may well have lied" but repeatedly refused invitations to say the same about Bush.

But wouldn't it be nice if The Village really was as opposed to lying as Broder claimed? More specifically, if the media elite who serve as Village elders had the good sense to shun their colleagues who habitually misinform, that could go a long way toward reversing the decades-long erosion of public confidence in the news media.

Take, for example, George Will. Will recently used his syndicated Washington Post column to make several false claims about global warming -- something he has done frequently in the past. Will's column sparked widespread condemnation, but the Post refused to run a correction and insisted that it has a "multi-layer editing process and checks facts to the fullest extent possible."

Read the whole article here...