Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 4, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

"ON JOHN KERRY'S BOAT"....Over at The Campaign Desk, Thomas Lang has some questions about the Wall Street Journal editorial page and its journalistic ethics. It turns out that today they finally ran their eagerly-awaited hatchet job against John Kerry from Vietnam vet/Republican shill John O'Neill, who, despite his "reluctance to become involved once again in politics," apparently decided his conscience wouldn't let him rest until he told the world the truth: Kerry is unfit to be America's commander in chief. Why? Because he dislikes some of Kerry's testimony about the Vietnam War 30 years ago.

Right. But we were talking about journalistic ethics, weren't we? Lang, it turns out, read the print (!) edition of the WSJ this morning and noted that the editors had added something to O'Neill's contribution to the public discourse: a pull quote designed to break up the masses of gray type. And he had a problem with that pull quote. Unfortunately, he said, "We can't show you the print edition of the Journal." Here at the Washington Monthly, though, thanks to the miracle of affordable personal computer technology, we can. So here it is.

Lang, nitpicker that he is, had two problems:

  • It's not actually a quote from anywhere in the article. Which, really, it ought to be. Since they put it between quote marks and all.

  • It's obviously designed to catch the attention of readers who don't actually read the article and fool them into thinking that O'Neill served alongside John Kerry. Saw him in action. Knew him personally back in the day.

    Nope. "On Mr. Kerry's boat" turns out to mean that after Kerry left Vietnam O'Neill happened to get assigned to the boat that Kerry had previously commanded. See? "On Mr. Kerry's boat." Cute, isn't it?

Anyway, I apologize for using the phrases "Wall Street Journal editorial page" and "journalistic ethics" in the same sentence above. That's clearly an abuse of the English language.

Kevin Drum 10:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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