No, that question wasn’t planted

The soldier says he asked it on his own.

Harley at Tacitus points to this little item from Editor & Publisher, which in turn reports on a story about to appear in Time.

Rememeber the right-bloggic foofaraw about the fact that the soldier’s question about armor for vehicles in Iraq — the one to which Rumsfeld gave so witless and heartless a response — had been planted by a reporter?

Well, guess what? It wasn’t, according to the soldier who asked it. In fact, he showed the draft of the question to the reporter, an “embed” he knew well, and the reporter’s only suggestion was to tone it down.

I agree with the principle that bloggers have no particular obligation to cover things. It’s fair to use selectivity, and especially selective outrage, as an index of bias, but there’s no ethical obligation for a blogger to be unbiased.

However, when someone has mentioned a story, especially an explosive one such as this, there is, I think, an absolute obligation to report on the debunking. Drudge, of course, is the lowest form of animal life, and never retracts. But how about the rest of you, fellas? Come on, you know who you are.

[Of course, this takes nothing away from Roger Ailes’s point that the important thing wasn’t who wrote the question but why Rummy gave such a dimwit answer.]

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: