Four lessons learned by Chris Cillizza!

FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 2013

Frankly, we’re sorry we looked: “What the Boston bombings taught me about journalism.”

That was the headline on a new post by the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza. Instinctively, we knew we should pass it up.

Despite those better angels, something made us look.

Cillizza was especially thoughtful in the wake of the Boston bombings. Here’s the way he started:
CILLIZZA (4/19/13): What the Boston bombings taught me about journalism

The events in Boston over the last four days have riveted the nation—and put journalism, the profession that I love, under the microscope. I’ve been thinking about what lessons I can learn as a political reporter from everything that has happened over these last 96 hours. My reflections are below—in no particular order other than when they occurred to me.
Cillizza listed four lessons he learned from this week’s events—four lessons about journalism, the profession he loves.

We ended up being sorry we looked. We should have obeyed our initial impulse.

Some posts are better left unread. That said, will you have the discipline to resist the temptation to look?


  1. They're ever so hard on themselves, are the not?

    The self-scrutiny is just too rigorous... Stop, Chris! Put down that wet noodle before you pull a muscle or something!

    1. Pretty funny. You nailed it Cecelia. The whole article falls into the category of "No shit, Sherlock" pablum if you ask me.
      One of his points however, "establishing who are the true 'authorities'" and taking everything they say as gospel truth on their own say so DAMAGES true journalism.
      No journalist is EVER going to get the "true story" when a strong police presence is able to control the narrative and point him/her down many meaningless rabbit holes. If it's a set-up from the start you'll be - without even sometimes knowing it - reporting the accepted story but not necessarily the truth.
      My beef with modern journalism is their quickness to accept what "an authority" says - sometimes over many credible eye-witness accounts to the contrary. Then - when the narrative has been set - they all pile on.
      Another thing modern reporters tend to do is ignore any follow-up. For instance re Sandy Hook: when school nurse Sally Cox was interviewed she told them (and by extension the world) that she KNEW Nancy Lanza and that Lanza was an "excellent teacher" and very caring and worked at Sandy Hook. Later on, we all find out that Nancy Lanza wasn't employed at Sandy Hook and wasn't even a teacher. But yet, did any one of the talking heads go back to revisit what had been a giant lie? Not even a "Sally! WTF!"
      Castigate yourself over THAT, Chris.

  2. Off topic, but the speculation that conservatives might be involved in the Boston attack could not have been more wrong. Not only were the attackers Muslims, apparently Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a supporter of Barack Obama.

    Of course, it would be offensive to blame President Obama or the Democrats because someone who supported Obama became a terrorist. However, it was more offensive for various liberal sites, including this one, to speculatively blame conservatives for the bombing, when the bomber wasn't even conservative.

    1. You're an incorrigible idiot.

    2. And his brother got tossed from a mosque for yelling at Iman. Using David in Cal "logic" that makes him a Christian.


  3. DAinCA sez: "Of course, it would be offensive to blame President Obama or the Democrats because someone who supported Obama became a terrorist. "

    Could you possibly be any more pathetic?

    Why, the answer is yes, as you quote, a website that's dedicated to "exposing and combating liberal media bias."

    You can name no "liberal" site, including this one, that speculated that "conservatives" were to blame for the bombing. Random violence directed at the public is practically the antithesis of a conservative tactic. Speculation about far-right extremists was not aimed at conservatives in American political life, the Republican Party, or ignoramuses like you.

    1. Exactly. And it would be as wrong to blame Muslims for this as it would be to blame Christians for Eric Rudolph.

      What David, of course, deliberately failed to mention is that the "speculation" wasn't focuses solely on "conservatives" or even right-wing extremists.

      It covered the broad spectrum from foreign-based al Qaeda operatives to homegrown militias.

    2. It's true that the speculation wasn't focued solely on Conservatives and right-wing extremists. So, what? Suppose some pundit had publicly speculated that the bombers might well be black or far-left. I would have found that (hypothetical) comment racist, even though it didn't focus solely on blacks.

      P.S. The term "right-wing extremists" is ambiguous. Does it mean people who want extreme changes in our laws or people who use extreme methods to pursue those changes? E.g., the Tea Parties want extreme reductions in the size of government, but their methods have been ultra-respectable. Typically, their demonstrations leave the site cleaner than they found it.

    3. Well, it's certainly uncontaminated by cheese.

    4. I'm torn with this argument because I think that there were enough confluences here(tax day, Patriots Day, April anniversary of Waco and OK bombing) to make the conjecture sn obvious one.

      The problem lies in the widespread gratuitous and moronic implication of our political opponents as being responsible for outright crimes.

      God knows how many times Jay Z will be questioned over one of the recent terrorists tweeting one of his lyrics.

      God help a public person if some murderer is apprehended while reading their book.

      Don't like tough immigration laws, then you're responsible for drug running. If you're big on gun rights, then you essentially held the coat of Adam Lanza as he shot those children. Any allusion to the principle of freedom will not spare you from being accused of abetting a crime.

      It's an arrested development world and we're all perpetual adolescents. At best, we're the kids in Mean Girls. At worst, Lord of the Flies.


      Here's a rather sardonic video that you may enjoy, David.

    6. "the Tea Parties want extreme reductions in the size of the government..."

      Should I call this out as the 100% Grade A bullshit it is, or should I use the old court statement of "facts not in evidence"?


  4. BTW I recommend the column, Why coverage of 'right-wing' violence irritates conservatives. It expands on the final point in the above post. Liberals may not buy what it says, but at least it will help you understand how the other side thinks.

    1. Crymeafugginriver. The commentariat may talk about say, a leftist Italian political party like Partito Democratico della Sinistra and in the same sentence mention the left-wing terrorists Brigate Rosse, and no liberals would be outraged. I had to go off shore for an example, because there aren't any domestic left-wing equivalents of McVeigh. No matter what the Teahadists and the NRA have to say about Obama.

      Thanks for the link, but I already understand the psychological mechanism of defensiveness.

    2. There are indeed left wing analogues of Timothy McVeigh. E.g. Presdient Obama's buddies Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. (I guess they're sort-of my buddies too. I graduated with Bernadine. She has invited the entire graduating class to her home for a party during reuion week.) Also, there were the Black Panthers.

      You may say that the bombings done by Ayers and Dohrn were a long time ago. I agree. But, so was the Oklahoma City bombing. It was almost 20 years ago.

    3. I'd suggest the Unabomber too.

    4. DAinCA, Obama served on a committee with Bill Ayers, when the latter was a professor at the U of I. I've never heard of any connection between Obama and Dohrn. Obama was eight years old when the SDS was formed. The left-wing analog you're talking about, the Weather Underground, did mount a bombing campaign in which they managed to kill three of their own members. The Black Panthers whom the police didn't kill outright spent their time in federal court on various charges. You have to go back over 40 years to cite either as a viable example.

      CeceliaMc, the Unabomber was a paranoid schizophrenic, not a one-man political movement.

  5. I am glad I surrendered to temptation because it revealed to me the naiveté, immaturity, arrogance and superficiality that too much of modern journalism has embraced.

  6. And it would be as wrong to blame Muslims for this as it would be to blame Christians for Eric Rudolph.

    Mahatma Ghandi wouldn't agree. He is quoted in his book, Gandhi: The Power of Pacifism, by Catherine Clement, as follows:

    While Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsees and Jews, along with several million adherents of an animistic religion, all coexisted in relative harmony, one religion that would not accept compromise stood out from the rest: Islam.

    Of oourse Ghandi made this statement a long time ago, but it seems to be still true today. For some reason, Islam, as a religion, inspires violence in a way that other religions don't.

    1. As grateful as I am for your channeling the Mahatma, I'm just the teensiest bit doubtful that he would have endorsed the concept of collective guilt no matter his experience with members of the Muslim community during the Raj.

      Yes, Islam has inspired violence in some of its adherents. And it has also inspired Sufism. And no, the violence so inspired by Islam is depressingly familiar to the violence inspired by other religions -- Protestants and Catholics toward each other in Belfast, Buddhists in Sri Lanka against Christians and Tamils, Hindus in India against Christians, the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda and Sudan against everybody else there.

      Really, now. Is there any bottom to your ignorance?

    2. I agree with you deadrat that collective guilt doesn't apply. What is important IMHO is that somehow Islam today continues to inspire a substantial number of terrorist attacks throughout the world. It behooves us to figure out what's going on and devise some way of coping with it. We won't figure it out if we deny that radical Islam needs to by studied and dealt with.

      Somehow it has become politically incorrect to discuss and focus on radical Islam. That kind of denial may have helped the Boston attacks succeeded. There were a lot of indications that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a terrorism risk, yet the FBI dropped the ball. Maybe a more focus on radical Islam would have stopped the attack before it began.

    3. DAinCA, You're this week's winner in the Build-a-Straw-Man contest.

      Somehow it has become fixed in your head that it's politically incorrect to discuss and focus on radical Islam. But like a lot of stuff in your head, it's not true. Mostly it's just plain incorrect to equate a religion of 1B adherents with it's craziest extremists.

      But as a scholar of radical Islam, perhaps you can tell us how "more focus" would have anticipated attacks by Chechens. You'd think Chechens would understand that this country's citizens aren't all that well disposed to Russian military policy. But figuring out religious extremists is hard for rational people. Try communing with the Mahatma. Perhaps he can help. Get back to us on that.

  7. BTW deadrat, even Bill Maher agrees with me.

    Maher took issue with that claim [that religious extremism isn’t only a product of Islam], calling it “liberal bullshit” and said there was no comparison.

    “You know what, yeah, yeah,” Maher said. “You know what — that’s liberal bullshit right there … they’re not as dangerous. I mean there’s only one faith, for example, that kills you or wants to kill you if you draw a bad cartoon of the prophet. There’s only one faith that kills you or wants to kill you if you renounce the faith. An ex-Muslim is a very dangerous thing. Talk to Salman Rushdie after the show about Christian versus Islam. So you know, I’m just saying let’s keep it real.”

    Read more:

    1. Murdering abortion providers: Christians are shutting out the Muslims in a rout. Oh, is that not politically correct enough for you, David? Sorry. religious fanatics are religious fanatics. And they ALL should be studied and condemned.


    2. Actually, we sorta have a tradition of not condemning people until they do something wrong.

    3. By the way, Salman Rusdie, Kurt Westergaard, and the late Theo van Gogh, might differ with you.

    4. DAinCA, So Bill Maher agrees with you? What significance am I supposed to attach to that? You're a big Maher fan now, so when he calls out the right-wing bullshit you're so fond of, you're gonna scratch your head and say, "Yeah, that Maher was right about Muzzies, so maybe he's got a point"?

      I doubt that's gonna happen. So maybe you think Maher is on my "side," so I have to agree with everything he says. It's called projection, and it leads you into error on the habits of others.

      Maher is wrong on Islam being the only religion with advocates for the killings of infidels.

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