More journalistic malpractice

Why give anonymity for routine campaign slander?

Of course you wouldn’t expect anything better from a Regnery Publishing author like Bill Sammon. But the editors of the San Francisco Examiner have no excuse for letting the White House launder its slightly racist attack on Barack Obama as “intellectually lazy” through a background quote from “a White House official.” There are lots of legitimate reasons someone might want to say something to a reporter but not be quoted by name; but slandering a political opponent isn’t one of them. If no one in the White House had the stones to stand up behind the quote, then the Examiner shouldn’t have run it.

As Josh Marshall points out, this was part of a coordinated attack on Obama, which gives you a pretty good guess at which potential opponent the Republicans actually fear. If HRC’s folks are as clever as they’re reputed to be, she’ll come down on this, hard, and soon. If I were writing her speeches, the word I’d use is “despicable.”

Footnote The irony of someone who works for George W. Bush, the original gentleman’s C-, calling another politician “intellectually lazy” is truly breathtaking, even ignoring the fact that the other politician in this case graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and was the President of the Harvard Law Review.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com