So, W. Thomas Smith, Jr., who criticized me for a post I made earlier this year by declaring his holier-than-thou reporting and fact-checking methods, seems to have run into quite a bit of trouble himself over his “reporting” in the Middle East.
The story is all over the Web, but the Columbia Journalism Review blog has the best rundown so far:
The National Review’s W. Thomas Smith, a regular contributor and author of the magazine’s milblog The Tank, has been caught reporting fabrications fed to him by sources during a trip to Lebanon this fall. According to several critics—and Smith and the NRO themselves—Smith fell for the falsehoods his sources fed him completely, without ever bothering to try to corroborate or confirm them independently, while making it sound like he had witnessed more than he really had.
The CJR takes him to task (you should read the entire post), but I’d just like to remind him of a few of the things he wrote promoting his own reporting and fact-checking skills over my, admittedly lesser, blogging skills earlier this year:
In fact, my obsession with “verifying” often causes me [W. Thomas Smith, Jr.] to spend more time than I should checking with multiple sources on a single point before posting a comment at “The Tank.” And let’s face it, blogs are far less formal — and for most people, entries are often posted on a whim — than actual story writing.
. . .
Had this been for one of my articles and not a blog post, I can assure you my sources and verification would have gone even deeper. Not because I’m a good journalist, but because it is my responsibility as a professional journalist to do so.
I understand there is a difference between a professional journalist and a blogger. And some — like me — actually get to do both. But it doesn’t mean that just because we’re blogging we should shoot from the hip (pardon the cliché).
People – potentially millions — read what we write. That is a huge responsibility. And truth is truth whether we want it to be or not.
So, Smith, looks like we’re in the same boat. Except yours is filling with putrid water a helluvalot faster.