Along the Tracks

Thursday, September 04, 2003

A little disappointed

I got a quick reply from Jonah Goldberg on the “contrast,” to put it mildly, between his column responding to the “Bush=Hitler” garbage and the ad directly along side the column which all but proclaims, “Hillary=Saddam.”

He points to the clear humor intended in the cards, and says the Left, by contrast, is earnest, not seeking humor. Certainly, intentions vary among those on the Left. As I mentioned in my post below, I’m sure quite a few on the Left find the Bush photos with drawn-in Hitler mustaches “funny,” but that doesn’t make the claim any less offensive.

He adds the comment that he (as well as National Review as an institution) need not endorse every product advertised on NRO. Absolutely true. Similarly, I do not endorse every product or service advertised in The Leader. However, I do exercise control of the content which appears in the newspaper, and am ultimately responsible for what runs. If a video store wanted to run an ad for a porn movie, I’d reject it. It doesn’t meet the standards set for this family newspaper. If I wrote a column which called the “Bush=Hitler” claim “slanderous to the United States and historical truth” - which it is - I would undercut my credibility if on the same page I placed an ad which promoted an equally risible comparison. If I felt the need to run the ad in the interest of the community, I would be compelled to write an explanation to my readers. “This ad is an example of what I mean by ‘slanderous to the United States and historical truth,’ but I felt you should see it because ....” Readers deserve an explanation for apparent, blatant hypocrisy.

Anyway, the “endorsement” argument is a straw man. Nobody says NRO “endorses” the products sold through advertising on its site. But NRO does decide which sponsors it will give a platform. I’m sure it has a set of advertising standards which must be met. The “Hillary=Saddam” playing cards apparently meet that standard. One mark against NRO.

And Jonah Goldberg apparently believes “humor” assuages responsibility for statements “slanderous to the United States and historical truth.” Maybe if Bush were smiling under the mustache - you know, a “happy Hitler” - then the comparison would be okay in his book. One mark against Jonah Goldberg’s logic.

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