Accuracy in Media

Lewis Lapham, the liberal, anti-Bush editor of Harper’s magazine, has been exposed for journalistic fraud.  He has egg all over his face for writing a story about the content of the speeches at the Republican National Convention before the event was held and the speeches were given.  Without knowing what he was talking about, he blasted the speeches as the same old “hollow rattle of the rhetorical brass and tin” that is “preached from the pulpits of Fox News and The Wall Street Journal.”  Lapham has since apologized for what he’s calling a “rhetorical invention,” use of “poetic license,” and a “mistake.”

Writer Nick Schulz says the only “mistake” Lapham made was in “revealing for all to see what has long been known by anyone who pays attention to the news: the major media routinely bring to their coverage of significant political events a predetermined storyline?”  He explains, “For the editor of Harper’s and other establishment press figures, it really makes no difference to them what will be said at Madison Square Garden because the Laphams are already set, loaded in the scribblers’ word processors and television anchor teleprompters and ready to go.”

Jacob Sullum of Reason magazine was the first to expose Lapham’s deception, noting on August 23 that the issue of Harper’s with Lapham’s comments about the convention was dated September, “but I got my copy in early August, and Lapham must have written those words in July.  Didn’t it occur to him that his readers might notice he was claiming to have witnessed an event that had not occurred when the magazine went to press?  Evidently, Republicans are not the only ones Lapham thinks are stupid.”

Lapham is an elite liberal whose new book is an attack on the Bush administration titled, “Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and the Stifling of Democracy.” Newsday recently quoted him as saying that he disagrees with the Bush foreign policy and that “The only way forward is enlightened, multilateral foreign policy.”  He said, “Give up the notion that we can run the world as if it were a prison, Warden Bush.  It didn’t work for the Romans.  And it won’t work for us.”

The Boston Globe’s Amanda Heller reviewed the Lapham book and called it “eloquent.”  She said Lapham was “a passionate and sophisticated student of American liberty?”  She says that Lapham warns that the Bush administration has been assisted by “a complicit news media” and “an ill-informed and pusillanimous public.”

The public may be ill-informed if it depends on Lapham for facts and information.  One reader posted this comment on Harper’s website: “I was most impressed to read of Lewis Lapham’s ability to travel in time? I would appreciate it if he could let all of us subscribers know the outcome of the forthcoming election.”  Lapham’s statement of response, also posted on the Harper’s website, said that he regretted the injury done to the magazine and apologized, “wholeheartedly,” to the readers.  It is ironic that Lapham wrote a book about a “gag rule” when he should have been gagging himself.  He claims to be an advocate of the First Amendment but has done damage to it by passing off fiction as fact.

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