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August 05, 2014 6:11 PM Rick Perlstein and the New York Times

By Michael O'Hare

You might think, from this article, that there is a real issue about Rick Perlstein’s scholarship.  But you would be wrong, and what a pity that Alter, just hired, would debut so awkwardly.

Alexandra, reporting is not collecting quotes from both “sides” of a story, especially when one side is a historian with a reputation and a long record and the other “side” is a hack and a flack.  See, you can actually use your Columbia J-School training about what plagiarism is, not to mention your special expertise covering the publishing industry, to discern the facts,  and tell us what they are, and you should, and you didn’t.

You can also figure out that someone like Craig Shirley is not the real goods with fairly rudimentary research skills.  Even I could figure that out, and from the second sentence on his Wikipedia page:

He is best known as “one of the most esteemed Ronald Reagan biographers“.[1]

See the little [1]? it points, in support of the assertion, to a piece of Reagan hagiography, by someone I never heard of, on Breitbart.  Breitbart. The Wikipedia page sounds as though it was written by Shirley or his intern, but it doesn’t matter: Wikipedia is open source, and if Shirley is allowing that to remain on his page, he has a concept of esteemed, and of evidence therefor, that waves red flags all over the place.  Having a keyboard and a fax machine doesn’t make someone a “side”.

Please go down the hall to the climate change desk and get a quick hit of why “he said, she said” is not journalism, and also get the phone number of the advertising department to pass on to people who try to use you as a free mouthpiece.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Michael O'Hare is a Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.

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