The NY Times made a rather large error the other day, and then issued a correction:

“…[Our article] gave an incorrect comparison between efforts by the president to seek allies’ support for this plans and President George W. Bush’s efforts on such backing for the Iraq War. The approach Mr. Obama is taking is similar to the one Mr. Bush took; it is not the case that “Unlike Mr. Bush in the Iraq war, Mr. Obama has sought to surround the United States with partners.”

Hot Air points out that the Times is hardly alone in its egregious error (or was it a purposeful falsehood, otherwise known as a lie?) What’s more, what took the Times ten days to figure it out, when the Times own contemporaneous coverage of the Iraq War easily refuted it?

It’s the old “fool or knave” question again. You might ask why we should care anymore, and I have to admit I care a lot less than I once did, because I have grown accustomed to the MSM’s tendency toward stupidity/ignorance, reckless disregard for the truth, propensity to lie, blatant bias, and intense and shameless arrogance.

But the process by which the Times and the rest of the MSM forms the opinions of the public (and it still is highly influential in doing so) remains a huge problem.

At first it occurred to me that perhaps the Times article had been written by a young person who might have even been a child or teen during the Iraq War.

That’s one of the problems with the MSM these days: many of its correspondents are so young they don’t know what they don’t know, but can be somewhat forgiven their ignorance because of their youth. What can’t be forgiven is the decision their supposed superiors have made to give them so much responsibility before they’re ready for it.

But no; in this case, the article’s author Mark Landler is 48, not old but no spring chicken either. During the Iraq War he would have been well into adulthood, and was already working as a journalist (mostly in the business sphere, however), so he should have known better. And of course, there should be editors at the Times to catch the error and correct it before it ever saw print, but they failed as well.

Perhaps Landler (and/or the editors) did know better, and was purposely lying and hoping to not be caught. For them, perpetuating the myth of Bush the Cowboy and Obama the Thoughtful Internationalist could be far more important than telling the truth, and well worth risking criticism and even the need for a correction which, after all, most people don’t even read.

But it’s also possible they all really are that ignorant and unaware of the truth. And perhaps that’s even worse than an outright lie would have been. Why do I say that?

Because they should have known and should have remembered, had reason to know and reason to remember, and yet they didn’t, which illustrates how often ideology trumps facts. Way too many people believe what they want to believe, and have no trouble revising history and/or memory to fit what they would like to be the real version of things.

This goes for journalists, too—maybe even more for journalists, because they have a big stake in the matter, and too much to lose if reality doesn’t fit their vision.

In a way, it would actually be better if Landler and the editors were actively lying instead of profoundly ignorant. If they’re lying, then there is hope—albeit exceedingly slim—that they could reform and change their ways. But what chance is there if they are merely unconsciously constructing reality as they see fit, unaware that they’re even doing it?

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]

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