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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

THE POST OFFICE GAME IN PRINT

"His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son"

Astro City 2
There's a comic book called Astro City by Kurt Busiek. The comic is about a city, not a single character or group of characters. It will focus on a character every so often, but most of the time, the series is about events or people in the city, usually the ones who do not have powers. It is something I wanted to do long ago but couldn't, and Busiek does a good job with it.

One issues in that comic was all about a brand new newspaper reporter, being told about how they do things at the paper by the editor. It centers around a quiet night with the editor as a young reporter waiting for a subway train that gets interrupted by a huge superhero battle. One of the things that takes place is the appearance of a Captain America archetype decades before he was known to have returned.

There was a huge battle to stop an invasion from another dimension by shark men and the young reporter rushed back to type up the story. His editor rejected it, because there was too much he couldn't substantiate. So he went back and typed it up more carefully. Again the editor rejected it, and again he typed it up. Eventually the story ended up being about the only thing the reporter could substantiate: the subway traffic was disrupted by a shark found on the tracks.

The whole comic was basically about how a newspaper can only be trusted if it reports only what it can be reasonably sure is true and can be substantiated reliably. The reporter's word alone wasn't sufficient.

Which brings us to the Washington Post. They recently ran a story about Mitt Romney's taxes, based on a story at Huffington Post, based on the word of Harry Reid, referring to an unnamed source's claim. That's right, they didn't just use hearsay, they used a second hand report of hearsay by an anonymous source. That's not reporting, that's just rumormongering. Its the post office game in print by an allegedly responsible, leading newspaper.

Is it true that, as the unknown source supposedly told Harry Reid, that Mitt Romney paid no taxes for ten years? If so, it puts him in good company with the present administration, but who knows? If it is, that's a problem with the candidate, if an unlikely one (does anyone really think the IRS would let that go?).

This is even worse than the hilariously obvious TANG forgeries that Dan Rather and 60 minutes tried to foist on the public. At least then they had something physical. This is just one unknown man's word passed on through another man, put on a blog, then written about in the Washington Post. Its astoundingly poor reporting.

Harry Reid comes across like a poorly written villain in a cheesy political thriller, the kind of character you'd smirk at and disbelieve. This guy got into a position of leadership? Who'd vote for such a hapless wretch? He's so obviously politically motivated and transparent... and yet, here we are.

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