Saturday, July 30, 2011

Jeffrey Goldberg’s Checkers Update

It turns out that on Thursday Jeffrey Goldberg slipped yet another update into his “Mumbai Comes to Norway”. It was a response to the public reception of my criticism of his journalistic lapses here and here. Remarkably, Goldberg did nothing to publicize this defense of his integrity, either at The Atlantic or on Twitter (at both of which he was posting very frequently).

So far it is the only sustained attempt he’s made publicly to rebut the charge that he doctored ‘Mumbai’ on July 22 with an unacknowledged revision, since his notorious ‘gibberish’ update last Monday. Here is the latest update in full:

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE ON THE UPDATE (Thursday the 28th): Jay Rosen has pointed out that the previous paragraphs read like gibberish. He's mostly right. Here's a shorter version: I posted, updated,, erased the post by mistake, tried to restore the post, left things out of the post, then fixed the post. There are people out there -- people who are opposed to me on ideological grounds -- who are accusing me of intentionally doctoring the post. They offer no proof, however. All I can say is that the screw-ups were inadvertent.

The last three sentences here are priceless. Goldberg insinuates that his critics are out to get him “on ideological grounds”. He offers no proof for such an explosive charge.

I’m the critic who first accused him of doctoring his post, and I’d like to know why he claims to understand my ideology. And how is that ideology, whatever it may be, at war with his own? Observant readers will notice that the accusation was in fact first published at the newish website Flapola, which “exists to chronicle the absurdities of public discourse”. It’s unclear whether “the people out there” who Goldberg feels are his ideological enemies would also include journalism professor Jay Rosen of NYU. If so, that seems absurd as well. Goldberg’s update reminds one a little too much of Richard Nixon at his worst (“You've got to be a little evil to understand those people out there. You have to have known the dark side of life.”).

Goldberg demands proof that his contrived-sounding story is false. I have offered plenty of evidence, an electronic trail that calls his story into question. For example, I pointed out that the title and web address of ‘Mumbai’ only acquired the word “Updated” around 5 hours after it was originally posted. That’s hard to square with Goldberg’s statement that he added the label “update” to his first revision, which came “almost right after [he] posted originally”. Goldberg is the one with access to The Atlantic’s logs. As I’ve said several times, he could easily produce the “proof”, if those logs backed him up, to prove he’s telling the truth. He hasn’t even bothered.

“All I can say is that the screw-ups were inadvertent.” False, see my last paragraph. Goldberg can produce the evidence he claims would show that he marked the first revision of his post as an “update”. Simply repeating his undocumented assertions proves nothing.

This latest update is rather dismissive. Isn’t his journalistic reputation sufficiently worth defending that Goldberg would produce readily available evidence to back up his story?

1 comment:

  1. Just to be absolutely clear, these...

    “You've got to be a little evil to understand those people out there. You have to have known the dark side of life.”

    are the words of Richard Nixon.