American Madness

Intelligent Criticism in the Service of a Better Nation

Wall Street Journal’s Pathetic Apology

Posted by Josh Friedlander | No Comments

Wall Street Journal

All I can say is, don’t shoot the messenger:

But how can any responsible journalist not be disgusted by the Wall Street Journal’s apology today?

Senator Carl Levin’s office called yesterday to say we gave him far too much credit, or blame as we had it, for his role in the misbegotten 1993 law that limited the tax deductibility of executive salaries to $1 million. His long-time aide on the issue, Elise Bean, says the Senator wasn’t a promoter of the idea, and we’ll take her word for it. It seems we confused his general agitation at the time against large executive pay packages for support for the salary limit.

Ms. Bean couldn’t recall if Mr. Levin had nonetheless voted for the limit, saying it had popped up in a conference report sometime during that year and she wasn’t sure which one. In any event, our bad.

“In any event, our bad.” Is this a high school newspaper? The “misbegoten law” they refer to was, I believe, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993. It took about 2 minutes to figure that out. I’ll admit, it took another 5 minutes of searching, but I discovered that — wouldn’t ya know? — people keep records of senate votes. Actually, the U.S. Senate web site keeps track of these things. And if one takes a minute, one can find that Carl Levin did vote in favor of the measure.

So, I am baffled that the WSJ would even need to print “Ms. Bean couldn’t recall if Mr. Levin had nonetheless voted for the limit.” What’s the relevance of whether she can remember? It was the paper’s responsibility to look it up.

No one need apologize for an opinion, but it’s bad indeed when one gets a fact wrong. Still, journalists all make mistakes. But when your apology demonstrates further that you haven’t even attempted to figure out what you were talking about, it’s just pitiful. Oh, and “my bad,” is something a 17 year old would say about taking the car when he shouldn’t have. It’s an expression that has no place on the editorial page of the most powerful newspaper in the country.


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