Monday, August 24, 2009

Worst Correction Ever

Marc Ambinder, last seen abusing science and philosophy in defense of the false equivalence between those who base their conclusions on reasons and those who believe anything that makes them angry, has taken another shot at liberals in his semi-mea-culpa on the Terror Alert system. He writes,

Journalists, including myself, were very skeptical when anti-Bush liberals insisted that what Ridge now says is true, was true. We were wrong. Our skepticism about the activists' conclusions was warranted because these folks based their assumption on gut hatred for President Bush, and not on any evaluation of the raw intelligence. [Addition: That's a hasty generalization. Many of the loudest voices were reflexively anti-Bush, but I can't accurately describe the motivations of everyone, much less a majority, of those who were skeptical. There were plenty of non-liberals who believed that the terror threats were exaggerated.]

I don't know the function to make this work, but Ambinder struck through the words: "these folks based their assumption on gut hatred for".

Ambinder is claiming that those on the left who were skeptical that the color-coded alert systems were based on public safety rather than partisan political ends were irrational even though they happened to be correct in this case. Obviously that's possible, but it didn't take a genius, or one with intimate knowledge of the so-called "raw intelligence", to notice that the increased alerts were suspiciously coincident with President Bush's dropping poll numbers, or Kerry's rising ones, that the Bush administration had lied and placed partisan political ends before national security time and again. I'd cite something in support of this last, but I'd have to cite virtually every action the Bush administration took. Thus, Ambinder can rest comfortably knowing that his own ignorance and enabling of the Bush administration really was the wise and proper course after all even if it turned out to be incorrect in this instance.

The reason this is the worst correction ever, as you can see by the text removed with a strike-through, is, of course, that he makes an unsubstantiated claim, marks out the supposed evidence for the unsubstantiated claim while acknowledging his lack of evidence for it, but does not remove the now-undermined claim. It's as though he had simply written, "We're still right no matter what. Neener-neener!" Somehow his default position is that he and his cohort were right even when they were wrong, and the liberals were wrong even when they were right, no matter what the evidence is. It's a form of belief perseveration. This exemplifies a sense of self-importance and belief in one's own infallibility that is, in many ways, worse than the original uncorrected passage. At least then he pretended to have a reason for his conclusion. Now he keeps the conclusion without the pretense. And this illustrates yet again that the Washington journalist class has learned nothing from its manifest errors in coverage beginning, at least, with Clinton and continuing through Bush. How can the press corps function when it refuses to acknowledge its manifest errors?

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