Hugh Hewitt will have the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens as a guest during the show’s first hour to discuss the Eason Jordan scandal and the WSJ’s response to it. I’ve been critical of both the response and of Bret Stephens, so I definitely want to hear what he has to say — and as a long-time fan of the WSJ/OpinionJournal, I’m bringing an open mind. So should we all …
Power Line and CQ reader Vayapaso point out that Tony Snow, one of the nicest gentlemen I had the good fortune of meeting at the Republican National Convention, has been diagnosed with colon cancer. Please send him your best wishes and prayers at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll add him to our prayer list as well.
UPDATE: Hugh posts his thoughts on his initial talk with Bret Stephens, and reading down through his site, I also see that Hugh’s retracting his reporting that Stephens wrote the unsigned editorial that ran Monday. I missed that, and I retract my commentary regarding that in this post (in the update).
Hugh writes about the rest of my posts regarding the WSJ:
If Stephens has been wrongly attacked, the bloggers that did so should issue prominent retractions. I expect my friend Ed Morrissey will re-examine his posts about Stephens to see if they meet his normal, very high standards of fairness and accuracy.
In reviewing my original issue with Bret Stephens, I linked back to an undisclosed direct relationship between Stephens and the WEF, and an indirect one between his club and Eason Jordan. I think bringing that up was fair, and I still think that Stephens should have disclosed it before writing such a dismissive opinion piece, especially in the objectionable and incendiary language he used in reference to Michelle Malkin (“suspended somewhere between meltdown and release”), simply for having committed journalism by interviewing Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and David Gergen. That kind of personal attack begs the question of what burr got under whose saddle, and his connections to the WEF and the Young Global Leaders program would have allowed WSJ readers to calculate better why Stephens attacked Malkin in such personal language.
That being said, I probably committed the same sin by republishing the attack piece by Joel Leyden of the Israel News Agency. A reader sent it to me, and at the time, I thought it germane to Stephens’ editorial decisions. Since Stephens did not write the unsigned editorial, it doesn’t apply anyway, and in any case goes farther towards a personal attack on Stephens than a professional criticism. I apologize to Mr. Stephens for the post. I’ve deleted most of the post, except for the introduction and an interesting paragraph that doesn’t directly relate to Mr. Stephens. I’ve left it on the blog so that people can go back and see I’ve retracted it, rather than do a Soviet-style “disappearance”.
Regarding my opinion on the alleged conflict of interest, that’s all it is — my opinion. If the WSJ and Stephens don’t consider it a problem, that’s their opinion, and our readers can decide which decision is correct.
UPDATE II: Radioblogger will have the transcript of the Bret Stephens segment up shortly. I have no real objection to what Stephens said, except that he never really addressed the fact that the WSJ failed to report on the story after the first blush, didn’t acknowledge the facts revealed by independent sources, and attacked them in general in two pieces and Michelle Malkin specifically in one.
However, I felt that Stephens’ criticisms of me were fair. I don’t agree with most of it, but it was fair, and I’m certainly not above criticism. Check out the comments in this post and others about Stephens, and you’ll find out that some of the criticism came immediately.
George, for instance, commented on my first post about Stephens that I should lay off of him, and considers my post today “guarded”, “limited”, and a “painful burden” — a fair characterization, although it’s not as painful to admit a mistake as some might think. (I’m married, dude — it’s what I do.) Others have also weighed in earlier, and I expect I’ll see more in the comments to this post. In fact, the corrective nature of comments is one of the reasons I have them enabled in the first place; CQ should be a community of voices, not an echo chamber of one or two, and that’s what comments are for.
I urge those who missed the Stephens interview to check out the transcript at Radioblogger and decide for yourselves where lines were crossed and by whom. I think the interview was one of the most interesting and most relevant to blogging that I’ve heard in a while.
UPDATE III: [deleted]
UPDATE for Daniel Simon: I’m not unretracting anything. I still think that posting the Leyden piece was a mistake, and I stand by that. I also still believe that Stephens’ connections to WEF should have been disclosed, but I will also say this (which I did in my other posts): it doesn’t mean that Stephens wrote anything other than what he firmly believes. It just creates doubts that could have been avoided with disclosure. He wasn’t just a reporter covering the event, and that information should, in my opinion, have been included in his report.
UPDATE 7:41 PM: After private correspondence which I will not quote or characterize other than to say it was friendly and professional, I want to note that Bret Stephens’ bio on the OpinionJournal site does mention his membership in both the YGL and WEF. I didn’t catch that at the time I wrote the post or after that as well. Bill Roggio has retracted his claim of a conflict of interest at Easongate, and I will join in him that statement and extend my earlier apology to Bret Stephens on this issue as well.