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March 7, 2005
Demick Raises Questions By Her Answers

Barbara Demick generated tremendous criticism for herself and the Los Angeles Times for a front-page apologia of the Kim regime in an article Demick wrote and the Times headlined, "North Korea: Without The Rancor." I didn't comment about it at the time because I hadn't read the article before I heard the controversy, and by the time I had an opportunity to dig into it, my perspective had been well covered by Hugh Hewitt and many others.

Hugh attempted to get Ms. Demick to appear on his show, and while it seems as though she's willing, the LAT editors apparently balked at Hugh's offer. However, she did agree to answer questions put to her by e-mail as long as Hugh reproduced them unedited, which he did this morning. Her answers raise new questions about her original article and the editorial judgement of the Times.

For instance, Hugh asks Demick this straight question, and gets a strange half answer, half dodge in return:

Q: Do you think Kim Jong Il is an evil man?

A: We reported last summer that Kim Jong Il spent millions importing
gourmet foods, cookbooks and chefs for himself while his countrymen
were starving. One can judge from there.

"One can judge," most certainly, but that doesn't answer the question, and a sharp attorney like Hugh doesn't ask questions just for their face value. Demick deliberately evades answering with her personal judgment about good and evil, explaining why the Times engaged in such moral relativism in the first place. Hugh asked this question first for a reason; it's the single most important issue. If Demick refuses to take a stand on whether Kim Jong-Il is evil, despite admitting that he caused a famine that killed 2 million people (10% of the population) and forces pregnant refugees to abort their babies if they get caught, then it explains why she can allow her byline to get hijacked for the purposes of allowing an admitted North Korean government agent to broadcast pro-Kim propaganda on the pages of the West Coast's biggest newspaper.

The same sickness of moral relativism infects the editorial staff of the LAT, at least those who green-lighted Demick's original article. If "one" cannot admit that Kim Jong-Il is evil, then evil exists only as an abstraction with little or no application in reality. That truly gives the only justification for the Durantyism displayed by the LAT in publishing such a piece with no context whatsoever -- not a single mention of any of the issues Hugh raises in his Q&A with Demick today.

It is chilling to see people who should know better being too afraid or too benighted to explicitly call a man who has starved two million people evil, a ruler who literally decimated his country while pocketing millions and perhaps billions of dollars for himself and the pursuit of WMD. The readers of the Los Angeles Times deserve better, and they should demand better.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 7, 2005 12:30 PM

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» CAPTAIN'S QUARTERS BLOG: Demick Raises Questions By Her Answers from Whither The Fool?
The same folks who would decline to answer directly the question "is Kim Jong-Il an evil man?" wouldn't raise an eyebrow--much less an objection--when confronted with the Susan Sarandon-Tim Robbins "Bush Is Evil" stock speech.... [Read More]

Tracked on March 8, 2005 3:48 AM

» Naming Evil from L'Ombre de l'Olivier
Hugh Hewitt emailed a bunch of questions to Barbara Demick - the reporter who wrote the article that I gave this fisking to - and got an emailed response. Reading most of the responses makes me wonder why she wrote the first piece the way she did. [Read More]

Tracked on March 8, 2005 5:06 AM

» The Question of Evil from Kobayashi Maru
What I suspect is at the heart of liberals' reluctance to use the 'E-word' is simply that Bush has used it. Partisan vitriol amongst my neighbors is so strong in this hyper-liberal corner of New England that an un-thinking, knee-jerk reaction ("If Bu... [Read More]

Tracked on March 8, 2005 9:56 AM

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