Glenn Reynolds Makes Newsweek Look Like Journalism’s Gold Standard

After Newsweek’s debacle about the Koran-in-the-toilet incident, Glenn Reynolds wrote an article about what the incident meant for the mainstream media in general. But what does it mean for blogging, in general, when Reynolds himself uses sourcing methods that make Newsweek’s look like the gold standard of journalism.

I’m referring to this Instapundit post,

JOE GANDELMAN says it’s not nice to make fun of Arlen Specter’s cancer.

He’s right.

Somebody made fun of Arlen Specter’s cancer? That’s just horrible. What sort of person would do that?

Well, Reynolds can’t be bother to quote from the offending person who made fun of Specter, so its off to Gandelman’s site.

But there’s something odd at Gandleman’s site — although he claims the American Family Association made fun of Specter having cancer, he doesn’t actually quote from any of the offending material either.

So we follow Gandelmans’ link to the offending article — but Gandelman links to yet another blogger, who does actually quote from the original, which it turns out is this article by the American Family Association’s Matt Friedman.

But while Friedman discusses Specter’s cancer, he does so because Specter himself invoked his own health problems as justification for embyronic stem cell research. And nowhere does Friedman make fun of Specter. Rather he points out the competing “poster children” style events with Bush meeting with kids who were born from extra frozen embryos while Specter invoked his cancer as reason enough to go forward with embryonic stem cell research.

Friedman writes,

Senator Specter apparently wants a place on your wall. Here’s why he shouldn’t get the chance.

Pick your poster child: Arlen Specter, bald from chemotherapy treatments for Hodgkin’s disease, saying that he is Exhibit A for embryonic stem-cell research … or those cute little kids in the AP photo with this caption: “President Bush appeared at the White House with babies and toddlers born of test-tube embryos, some wearing shirts that read ‘former embryo.'”

“I look in the mirror every day,” says Specter, “barely recognize myself. And not to have the availability of the best of medical care is simply atrocious.”

Meanwhile, President Bush was busy praising a Christian agency that helps couples adopt frozen embryos. Amidst 21 babies and toddlers who began their lives as frozen embryos left over after fertility treatments, the president said, “there is no such thing as a spare embryo.”

So, again, pick your poster child. The man with a disease who thinks there is vast medical potential in destroying babies described as embryos, or the children who developed from their embryonic state to roll around on White House carpet.

. . .

Hillary Rodham Clinton, during one of her husband’s campaigns, declared that we should all ease up on the topic of abortion because, after all, we cannot be sure when human life really begins.

If uncertain, one would assume that the compassionate among us would err on the side of life. And a real man who has long touted himself as a courageous senator wouldn’t countenance the destruction of young ones to protect his own life.

There are a lot of things that could be said both positive and negative about Friedman’s claims, but he clearly is not making fun of Specter’s cancer. Nor are Friedman’s comments out of bounds — if Specter is going to invoke his cancer for political benefit, its completely appropriate for Friedman and others to point out that, in their view, he is asking for others to be sacrificed for his health.

Specter doesn’t get to stop all debate on embryonic stem cell research simply by mentioning that he has cancer, as all the bloggers condemning Friedman appear to want to do.

As for Reynolds, in this case he’s in far worse of a position than Newsweek. Newsweek had a source tell them of an incident documented in a confidential report. Newsweek didn’t have access to that report, and did a poor job of attempting to corroborate the story, which turned out to be bogus.

Reynolds, however, could have read the original Friedman article with a couple clicks. Instead he simply repeated a false claim by someone without even bothering to check the source material.

Just what we needed — the blogger echo chamber spreading rumors and lies.

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