Sunday, April 03, 2005

3 April 2005

Off Balance
David Neiwert has the latest on C-SPAN's botching of discussion of Deborah Lipstadt's book History on Trial. He links to Charles Taylor's fierce piece in Salon about the book and the contorted defenses David Irving still seems to enjoy in the name of free speech. [For my small circle of readers, David Irving has made a career of Holocaust-denial and Hitler apologetics, and took Lipstadt to libel proceedings in the UK for her documentation of his shoddy scholarship and distortion of sources. He lost.]
C-SPAN seems to have wanted Lipstadt to replay the entire game over again, confronted by Irving, and you really have to ask why. Is there that large a Holocaust Denial constituency out there that C-SPAN is nervous about not booking a formally repudiated liar? If this was an isolated case, I suppose I would only find it a bizarre aberration, but it's not - witness the airtime the Intelligent Design folks get, the incomprehension with which TV anchors meet the word "theory" (as opposed to "hypothesis") as it is understood in the sciences, the ignorance of medical assessment and procedure in the Schiavo case. It's a fucking endless parade of sloughing off any editorial rigor, of being gutless wonders and proud of it.
Sure, academic history and science aren't the meat-and-potatoes of your average American, but neither is civics, which - one would think - hits closer to home. Yet people are buying a book about the evils of the judiciary in numbers sufficient to put it on the NYT Nonfiction Bestseller List, (it's 7 this week, up from 8) - Dahlia Lithwick, bless her, shreds it here. Trouble is, it's just another piece in this debris flow of propaganda, phony scholarship and incendiary bullshit against which the wusses at C-SPAN and their cable news and broadcast cousins appear to have no defenses left at all. Why do they still have jobs, and what the hell is the job description?

[Update: Neiwert has some Corrections to the post I linked to above, specifically about the WaPo coverage of the Lipstadt/Irving trial and their reporter's efforts in that regard. Doesn't affect my argument, but a worthy example of blogger follow-up.]

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