Thursday, April 21, 2011

Global warming heats up a good question on truth

Salon's Alex Pareene takes after the Washington Post and its editorial page editor Fred Hiatt for "now apparently acknowledging that he specifically prints things he knows to be untrue and irresponsible." The spat is over Haitt's criticism of Sarah Palin comments on global warming. Pareene also says (and links to others saying) that Post columnist George Will's columns have included: "Actual, demonstrable lies" on the issue.

Setting the politics aside, the question posed by this is simple: What is the responsibility of an editorial page director to make sure his columnists are correct? It's part of the larger question facing journalists who find themselves with two sources stating directly opposite "facts" as truth. How far should we go to sort out the truth, and should "opinion" writers get greater leeway on statements they claim are true?

Virtually every letters column in the Journal Sentinel contain a letter with something I know is not true. What is the paper's responsibility? These are hard questions.

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