Sunday, July 01, 2007

Spoof or Consequences

After spoofing K-Street lobbying firms into bidding to give the "ugly, neo-Stalinist" government of Turkmenistan a P.R. makeover, former LA Times staffer and Washington editor of Harper's Magazine, Ken Silverstein, drew flak from some in the journalism community for going undercover and misrepresenting himself to get the story. It wasn't unexpected.

The aggrieved lobbying firms attacked Harper's, saying that it was "unethical" of Silverstein to misrepresent himself as an agent for a Turkmenistan-connected energy firm. Presumably, they were more embarrassed that he'd publicize tactics they use for skirting lobbying restrictions or for getting a client knocked out of the top ten on Parade magazine's list of the world's worst dictators.

In Saturday's LA Times, Silverstein fired back:
Based on the number of interview requests I've had, and the steady stream of positive e-mails I've received, I'd wager that the general public is decidedly more supportive of undercover reporting than the Washington media establishment. One person who heard me talking about the story in a TV interview wrote to urge that I never apologize for "misrepresenting yourself to a pack of thugs … especially when misrepresentation is their own stock in trade!"

I'm willing to debate the merits of my piece, but the carping from the Washington press corps is hard to stomach. This is the group that attended the White House correspondents dinner and clapped for a rapping Karl Rove. As a class, they honor politeness over honesty and believe that being "balanced" means giving the same weight to a lie as you give to the truth.
Give 'em hell, Ken.

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