Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Blow Blows

A few sharp letters to Salon note that Richard Blow's whining article about Stephen Glass is quite the self-indictment.


Blow writes, "I wanted Steve to show that celebrities were effective -- the story wasn't a story if they weren't -- and he came through, digging up a Virginia political consultant who'd studied this very question." This statement, more than anything Glass did, underscores the real problem with American journalism. Editors, like Blow, tell writers, "Tell a story that goes like this," before any reporting is done, before the facts are known. The intellectual process more closely resembles the way fiction is generated than the way facts are documented.


Yet by his own admission, he was anxious for dirt on a public figure who foiled him by not making himself an easy target (what, objectivity gone out of style these days?). And he tells an obviously insecure, desperate-to-please young man exactly what he is salivating for and -- what a surprise! -- he gets it in spades.


His meager mea culpa (worthy of Stephen Glass) for his desire to "dig up some dirt" on Vernon Jordan refers matter-of-factly to Clinton's "shenanigans." Blow blithely carries on in that Beltway alternate universe where there was something dastardly at the heart of Whitewater -- never mind that Ken Starr spent millions of dollars and couldn't find it. Even five years later he traipses right past the real reason he was so easily deceived -- he wanted to get Clinton, and the facts be damned.