Posted on | February 16, 2012 | 4 Comments
One of my smoking buddies at CPAC was Jim Lakely, a veteran newsman (and former Washington Times colleague) who now makes his living as communications director for Chicago’s Heartland Institute. And he’s outraged by the shoddy work of liberal journalists:
Yesterday afternoon, two advocacy groups posted online several documents they claimed were The Heartland Institute’s 2012 budget, fundraising, and strategy plans. Some of these documents were stolen from Heartland, at least one is a fake, and some may have been altered. . . .
Since then, the documents have been widely reposted on the Internet, again with no effort to confirm their authenticity.
One document, titled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,” is a total fake apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute. It was not written by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact. . . .
The individuals who have commented so far on these documents did not wait for Heartland to confirm or deny the authenticity of the documents. We believe their actions constitute civil and possibly criminal offenses for which we plan to pursue charges and collect payment for damages, including damages to our reputation.
The phrases necessary to describe this outrage? Confirmation bias and epistemic closure. Liberals are willing to believe the worst about conservative individuals and institutions, and the intense partisanship of liberal news organizations insulates their employees from contact with anyone who may be skeptical of their own beliefs.
So when one of these “too good to check” stories comes along, there is no one on the inside of the newsroom to say, “Hey, wait a minute — how do we know this is legit?”
Look: I’ve occasionally run with a blind-sourced rumor, reporting it as such without bothering to seek confirmation. But those items generally involved internecine campaign tactics, rather than (as in the case of the smear against Heartland Institute) serious allegations of purposeful fraud. The more serious the accusation, the more important the need for confirmation: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”
BTW: Guess who doesn’t believe in global warming? Rick Santorum.
Just sayin’ . . .