Geoff Baker Redux

Note: I’m giving this post from yesterday a bump for two reasons: First, it was posted kind of late, and a lot of people don’t scroll back past ATH on a given day, so it’s “new” to a lot of readers; Second, because Geoff Baker his ownself waded into the comments thread last night. I think that’s kind of cool and think that maybe some folks would like to read that too.

Geoff Baker got mad last week when a blogger waded into waters he feels that only professionals like Geoff Baker should be wading. Today he wades into my waters:

Here’s a primer on U.S. libel law and how it relates to blogging, in case you’re interested. It should be required reading for any blogger in this country.

If you get sued for libel, your defense can be “the truth — that what you wrote is true — or that, even if what you wrote was false, you did not act with malice. In Canada, where I began my career, the law is much tougher and states that your stuff had better be true, or you’re in hot water. It’s a bit more lax here in the U.S. with the whole “malice thing.

The U.S. Supreme Court has defined malice as publishing something with “either knowledge of falsity or in reckless disregard for its truth or falsity.”

I was going to write about 1000 words aping his piece from last week, substituting the dangers of amateurs engaging in the business of lawyering for his take on amateurs engaging in the business of professional journalism, but I couldn’t keep a straight face. I’m actually fine with Baker writing about this stuff because (a) it’s not rocket science; and (b) he’s right. Like I said last week, you’ve got to get your facts right if you’re going to get into the accusation business. That goes for bloggers too, and like Baker, I am similarly not impressed with the argument that a blogger can be looser with things if he’s only writing for a small, friendly audience (not that Jerrod Morris was being “loose” in my estimation).

But beyond that, Baker remains off his nut. Last week I (and many others) noted that Baker himself seemed to be doing far worse than Jerod Morris was doing when he suggested that the entire 2003 Seattle Mariners team had been on steroids. Today he defends himself:

Now, this may seem like the same thing to a lot of you, but there are important differences. The most obvious is that no individual was singled out. Believe me, this was intentional. There are ways to approach topics like this, to hint at stuff that may or may not have been going on, but it requires subtlety, not a sledgehammer.

What I wrote still gives every player on that 2004 team an “out” in which they can say: “It wasn’t me he was talking about.”

I suppose that’s fine if all you care about is avoiding legal liability for defamation — and even then I’m not sure that the Mariners as a team wouldn’t have an action for some sort for business disparagement or something — but certainly that’s not the operative ethical standard, is it? Anything is fair game as long as there’s an “out?” That’s not what Baker seemed to be all worked up about in his original piece. It was all about being tough and accountable and writing with integrity and credibility and all of that. Something greater than mere lawsuit avoidance, at any rate. If anything, Baker’s pained rationalization of his February piece directly contradicts his stated belief that looking one’s target in the eye matters. His accusation of non-specific Mariners with an “out” built-in is exactly the opposite of looking someone in the eye. It’s cowardly ass-covering.

Baker’s next point is the freakin’ cake topper:

Some of you have asked why I — and my colleagues — failed to denounce Rick Reilly for publishing similar things about ballplayers that Morris did. Well, the first answer is, many of my colleagues did denounce Reilly several years back when he challenged Sammy Sosa to take a drug test. Many thought he was unfairly singling Sosa out.

My second answer would be: Jerod Morris is not Rick Reilly.

Sorry, I don’t cotton to any system with exceptions that so thoroughly swallow the rules as the one Baker sketches out, and that’s even when the rules are weak moving targets like those he’s proposing. If we are to take Baker seriously, there’s a bogey that all of us writing about baseball need to hit — about thirty years of puff pieces, if I reckon correctly — and once we hit it, anything is fair game. If I’m wrong about this — if, for example, I get my license to be irresponsible at, say, 25 years — I hope that Baker lets me know, because I have a lot of garbage I want to fling at people.

Finally, Baker responds to criticism of his “White Jays” piece from a couple of years ago:

I’ve had people write in to ask me about my so-called “White Jays” series of three stories written for the Toronto Star six years ago. What those stories were supposed to be about was how the Blue Jays, after years of pipelining talent from Latin America, had suddenly become a team with the fewest amount of minority players in baseball. At a time when the number of Latin Americans in the game was exploding.

But the reasons behind that story were lost because of a terrible “White Jays” headline, substituted at the last minute as a front page teaser to the stories, without my consent, or input, or that of the editors working closest with the story.

I’m somewhat sympathetic here, because his “White Jays” story, while not his finest hour, wasn’t as bad as a lot of people made it out to be. But his explanation of this is instructive: other chefs in the kitchen screwed it up, not Geoff Baker. Kind of undercuts that whole notion he’s pushing about the importance and value of all of those editorial layers that separate the pros from the amateurs, doesn’t it?

Baker goes on and on and so could I, but we’d never come to agreement on everything. I do hope, however, that we can agree on this: people who write non-fiction for a living need to be accurate and take responsibility for their words no matter who they are and where they write.


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The Common Man
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The Common Man
Bill, Jack’s main issue is less to do with rights, I think, and more to do with what he believes is ethically right.  I think there are legitimate questions as to whether Jack’s perfect world ethics are reasonable expectations of individuals.  If Jack has never done anything ethically questionable, he’s the first since Jesus Christ, who I believe has returned to Earth and is catching for the Minnesota Twins. Jack, again I think it’s important to point out that Morris didn’t finger anybody.  He raised the point that steroid use has to be an acknowledged possibility, though not necessarily a… Read more »
Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall
If you don’t need the lecture, then please stop using “circumstantial evidence” as a synonym for “weak evidence” or “invalid evidence.” Who said Morris didn’t have a “right” to publish his crappy article? Not me. He has a right to publish whatever irresponsible, hurtful, dishonest drivel he wants short of libel, which this wasn’t. Just because he has a right to do it doesn’t make it right to do it. (I’ll spare you the lecture on that.) Yes, a B student who suddenly aces a test should have the benefit of the doubt if there is nothing more than the… Read more »
Bill @ the daily something
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Bill @ the daily something

I get the sense that you’re not really sure what you’re arguing. Or that you’re arguing just to argue.

But, fine. If you want to call it “unfair,” then whatever. I might even agree with you. That’s way, way short of what Mr. Baker and others are saying about it. And whatever it is, it’s no more or less fair than the kind of speculation the MSM engages in all the time.

Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall

And when the MSM is that unfair, it is wrong, unprofessional, and it should be called on it. Just like Morris. That’s all.

Geoff Baker
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Geoff Baker
For Common Man, Most of the Morris piece was harmless and he did attempt a well thought-out essay on stats. Which is why it made no sense to take the steroids angle and throw it into the headline of a blog that otherwise had nothing to do with it. Unless, that was his true intention all along. To raise the steroids angle under the guise of a well thought-out stats piece. Morris has since written and told me he truly had no ulterior motive and I accept that on its face. But giving equal prominence to “whisperers’’ about steroids in… Read more »
Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra

“Ichiro Suzuki is 35 and having his best season since 2004. He had his worst season last year. Going to mention “steroid whispers” in a headline and story about him?”

Don’t tempt me, Geoff . . .it’s a slow news day . . .

J.W.
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J.W.
On June 2nd, Craig posted a link to, and brief discussion of, Bill Simmons’s article postulating that David Ortiz’s sharp decline was due to the fact that he was older than he claimed to be. The evidence in favor of this charge was Ortiz’s sudden fall off a cliff (though now he seems to be clamboring back up that cliff) and the fact that he is Dominican and kinda sorta friends with Miguel Tejada who did, in fact, lie about his age. The evidence against was Ortiz’s physique and the fact that other players with similar physique and stats have… Read more »
Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall

JW: They are virtually the same, and you shouldn’t have been shouted down. I’d argue that lying about one’s age (fraud) is not as serious as PED use, but that’s a close call. Sammons’ article was unfair and irresponsible too.

J.W.
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J.W.

Jack Marshall—

Thanks for the answer; I’m genuinely curious about what other people think. It’s funny though, when I was writing the above comment, I originally had writtena: “I was shouted down and disagreed with by most commenters on that post other than Jack Marshall” but then I decided it would be inappropriate to drag your name into a comment that you had no input on, ya know, since it would be tantamount to saying you agree with my P.O.V. without asking you first.

Jason
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Jason

“And when the MSM is that unfair, it is wrong, unprofessional, and it should be called on it. Just like Morris. That’s all.”

Agreed.  Which makes Baker’s response, “Jerod Morris is not Rick Reilly,” ridiculous.

The Common Man
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The Common Man
Thanks, Geoff.  That’s a well-reasoned explanation and I appreciate your help understanding your thought process.  Headline and phrasing aside, I still think the debate within the vast majority MSM has had more to do with a punk blogger raising the possibility of PEDs, rather than one of their own.  It’s been (in my opinion) largely a reaction to the medium in which the possibility was delivered and the lack of “credentials” that the writer could point to. And while I appreciate that your article regarding the 2003-4 Mariners does not single out any specific names as potential users, giving individual… Read more »
Tom M. Tango
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Tom M. Tango
The original up-in-arms problem that MSM had with Morris is that they treated him as a wannabe journalist, and that he failed to uphold their standards.  But, that was not the standard that Morris was trying to uphold.  Rather, he was writing to his own standards.  And, as far as I can tell, his standards are being sincere, inquisitive, and resourceful. *** Geoff’s position on Morris seems to have evolved (which is good) to the point that the issue is that Morris introduced “steroids” into an otherwise decent article.  That by doing so, he forces readers to infer more than… Read more »
Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall

Jason: Also agreed. I think Baker probably agrees too, based on his clarification here. As I know by sad experience, it’s dangerous being flip.

Drew
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Drew
Morris’ headline makes a lot more sense when you take it in the context of how he explained the genesis of his article.  A friend in a fantasy league was jealous that Morris had Ibanez on his team and Ibanez was having a huge season, so his friend claimed that Ibanez’ performance was the result of PEDs.  Morris set out to write an article disproving the “Suspicion of Steroids”, and took into account a few simple statistical measures which he assumed would put the issue to rest.  Of course, what he found was that this quick study didn’t do much… Read more »
Sean
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Sean
Mr. Tango, I’ve come in very late to all this, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with the standards of mainstream media. They held him up to their standard because that’s the journalistic standard, and if people want to gripe about how poorly modern journalists adhere to these, then there’s no reason for a blogger to except something different. Objectivity and accuracy aren’t difficult things to understand, but they can be difficult ones to implement. BTF spends a good portion of their time taking writers to the woodshed for failing to live up to what is widely accepted… Read more »
Tom M. Tango
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Tom M. Tango
“They held him up to their standard because that’s the journalistic standard” Sean, that’s my point.  The standard to hold him to is his personal standards, not the journalistic standards.  What Morris did in his blog is identical to what he’d do in a newsletter or in a bar (as long as it doesn’t break any laws).  In no way is what I write here in a comment section or in my blog or in a book or anywhere else for that matter required to meet any standard other than those I can live with (and within the bounds of… Read more »
Geoff Baker
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Geoff Baker
For J.W., the simple answer is: two wrongs don’t make a right. And regardless of whether Simmons, Rick Reilly, Murray Chass and a handful of others went about what they did the wrong way, Jerod Morris is still wrong. And Morris is the only one who had a player go ballistic on him. When Reilly got an angry response from Sammy Sosa years ago after challenging him to take a drug test, many in the MSM called him out. I don’t see and read every single one of the millions of baseball stories written every year. But when asked about… Read more »
Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall
Well, Tom, that was one of the best examples of ethical relativism advocacy I’ve encountered in quite a while, but like all ethical relativism,it’s pure junk. Neither you nor Morris should be gratuitously and irresponsibly harming others, or publicizing falsities, or being gratuitously mean or unfair just because it’s the standard, however crummy, that “you can live with.” That’s a swell standard if you live alone in a cave and don’t communicate with the outside world, but when your conduct affects others, damn right you have an obligation to come up to a higher standard. Standards of conduct evolve as… Read more »
Sara K
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Sara K

“Neither you nor Morris should be gratuitously and irresponsibly harming others, or publicizing falsities, or being gratuitously mean or unfair just because it’s the standard”

Are you saying you felt like the Morris article did these things?

Bill @ the daily something
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Bill @ the daily something
First of all, I find it amazing and admirable the way both sides have trended toward a middle ground during the course of this conversation. When does THAT ever happen on the internet? But, Geoff, a relatively minor point: Ichiro! is a really bad example. You can debate whether he’s really having his best season since 2004; I’ll take his 2007, by a hair, because of the better OBP. He’s hitting for essentially the same batting average now that he did then, and he’s managed to send maybe two to three extra fly balls over the fence from what we’d… Read more »
Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall
Sara: Yup, I sure am. This kind of “When did you stop beating your wife” passive-aggressive stuff is pure innuendo, dirty pool, unfair, and for any player who has played by the rules and tried to show integrity and professionalism, hurtful and infuriating. A simple application of The Golden Rule would tell Morris that it was wrong. I don’t think he was considering Ibanez at all…which, given the fact that he was the target, is no excuse. “And maybe that training included… Well, you know where that one was going, but I’d prefer to leave it as unstated speculation.[UNSTATED???] However,… Read more »
Jason
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Jason

“exposed legally as Morris”

Aren’t there something like eight lawyers commenting on this blog? Hasn’t it been established that what Morris wrote didn’t put him in any sort of legal danger?

Bill @ the daily something
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Bill @ the daily something
“Aren’t there something like eight lawyers commenting on this blog? Hasn’t it been established that what Morris wrote didn’t put him in any sort of legal danger?” Yes and YES. @Jack Marshall: I agree that all the things you point out are annoying and kind of silly. But I don’t see how any of it rises to the level of “gratuitously and irresponsibly harming others, or publicizing falsities, or being gratuitously mean or unfair just because it’s the standard.” He’s especially not “publicizing falsities,” since he’s not actually putting anything forth as fact (or rather, the facts he does put… Read more »
Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall

Jason: Yes.

Michael
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Michael
“You may be upset that a fellow blogger got told he was wrong in public, but your argument doesn’t become any stronger when you make stuff up. So please, stop.” Putting words in peoples’ mouths – mine, Craig’s and Morris’ in specific – would certainly be considered “making stuff up” by many people – and certainly as close to it as you accuse me of. So I urge you to take your own advice. In fact this perpetuates what a cynic would see as the kernel of the whole argument: is the mainstream sports media a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites?… Read more »
TC
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TC

Jack-I cannot help but feel like your reaction to Tom implies that Morris’ personal standard exist in a vacuum, that they themselves were not influenced by whatever variety of cultures he intersects. 

That said “higher” and “lower” standards, to me, seem to be in the eye of the beholder.  I see writing that I might interpret as careless or deliberate, as light-hearted or serious, harmful to others or benign or helpful, but it’s unclear to me what makes a standard “high” or “low”, objectively speaking.

Preston
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Preston
Bill, as Joe Posnanski pointed out several days ago, this season is not really out of step with anything Raul Ibanez has ever done – in fact, he’s had several 50 game stretches in his career (and that’s all this is, as of now) in which he has put up similar numbers.  You can read it at http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2009/06/10/whats-eating-raul/. Now, while that’s not the easiest thing in the world to notice, necessarily, it probably is something that Morris should have thought about before writing the article the way he did.  After all, we tend to see hot streaks like this to… Read more »
Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall
TC…you really don’t see a clear distinction between doing good and harm, being fair or unfair, honest or dishonest, respectful or disrespectful? That standards embodying basic virtues like truth and avoiding gratuitous harm for to others are “higher” than standards embracing lies and cruelty? I find that difficult to believe. Anyone is free to posit a new standard, but as long as the rest of us have to experience and watch its results, we can reject it. That’s how societal standards have always been set, and it works well. Tom is the one who suggested valid “personal” standards, which suggests… Read more »
Bill @ the daily something
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Bill @ the daily something
I did read the Poz piece. Yet again, I’m not trying to defend steroid speculation as a thing. The whole topic bores me, and I can’t stand pieces like Morris’. But in context, I think it’s pretty clear that I was assuming Ibanez’ (and Ichiro’s) seasons *end* the way they’ve started. One is exactly the kind of thing that always starts speculization, and one is very clearly not. Anyway, Poz pretty much makes the same point I’m trying to (though much better, of course): “I don’t know Jerod at all but feel like in many ways he’s getting a bad… Read more »
Michael
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Michael

Re: Joe Posnanski – funny that it’s taken this long for ANY MSM folk to actually come up with a FACTUAL rebuttal instead of just a sanctimonious “moral” rebuttal.

Hopefully THAT gets picked up and this whole fake controversy is finally put to rest.

Sara K
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Sara K
I see the amazing power of context in the examples you extracted, Jack.  Those lines, separated from the thesis and spirit of the article, certainly do sound vicious. I am baffled about an apparent discrepancy in perceptions re: the Mariners organization.  Ibanez, as noted by Morris and rehashed by Jack, denied that steroids “had ever been” a part of the Seattle clubhouse. Baker seems to believe that they were indeed part of the 2003 clubhouse (at least, he believed it enough to suggest that the 2004 plummet was due the the fact that “they” were now clean). Unless we’re accepting… Read more »
Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall
Yeah, Michael, how I enjoy the snarls of those who regard any effort to identify and encourage decent and fair conduct as “sanctimonious.” That’s why “Big Lie’ tactics still remain so effective today…because you and yours only care about the factual rebuttal to the irresponsible accusation, and not whether it should have ever been made in the first place. Just throw it out there, and see what it stirs up, eh? Maybe we’ll get lucky and actually catch a rat! But someone who has done nothing to justify an accusation should not HAVE to rebut one, and neither should Joe… Read more »
Michael
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Michael

Sorry, Jack, I don’t respond to anyone who uses stuff like “you and yours” in the midst of personal attacks.

But thanks for defining “sanctimonious” for us. Thumbs up for that.

Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall

No apologies necessary, Mikey. I don’t expect responses from those who dismiss genuine efforts to define what’s appropriate conduct as “sanctimonious” and then complain of “personal attacks” when they are called on it. If they had any valid arguments, they wouldn’t resort to name-calling.

The Common Man
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The Common Man
Jack, through it all, you still have not proven your underlying assumption, that what Morris did was “gratuitously and irresponsibly harming others, or publicizing falsities, or being gratuitously mean or unfair.”  Your interpretation is that he was deliberately evasive to throw a bomb and run away before it went off.  I, and apparently many others, see it as an acknowledgement of the times we live in, where a 35+ year old guy apparently having a career year raises eyebrows.  I think the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate a) that Morris published a falsity (I see none), b)… Read more »
Tom M. Tango
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Tom M. Tango
Geoff says: “Guarantee you he’s read it since. Again, as any normal person would after this much fuss. Has he come out and apologized, or asked to clarify his remarks? Nope. All we have to go on is that, when told of it, he exploded. The fact that the Philly paper asked him about it is irrelevant. Do you think Ibanez has time to sit around Googling himself at any given moment to see everything written about him?” I respond: We don’t know what he was asked specifically.  It may as well have been “This blogger speculated you may be… Read more »
Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra
Just dropping in to say two things: 1. I’ve done my fair share of defamation law (even represented some newspapers!) and I can say with great confidence that there is an absolutely zero possibility that anything in Morris’ article could even arguably be construed as “actual malice.”  To suggest that Morris is a libel case is ridiculous, and I submit that the subject was injected into the debate as a means to provide some false moral high ground to those attacking him and bloggers in general.  We can argue whether he was “right” to write what he did, but the… Read more »
Sara K
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Sara K

I was typing the last sentence of a lovely three-paragraph comment when my darling 1-yr-old daughter wiped it out with an amazingly well-placed swipe of her chubby little hand.  *sigh*  I’ll be back later to attempt a reconstruction…

Bill @ the daily something
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Bill @ the daily something
Geoff, Again, you’re just WAY off-base in your understanding of libel and slander law. Just keep reading the link you just posted—the whole thing is about the “public figure doctrine,” which is the very thing that makes you terribly wrong about this. (You did mention “malice” in your blog post, but gave no hint at all of what a huge, almost insurmountable hurdle the “actual malice” standard actually is for public figures.) For better or worse (I’d think most people in your line of work would be pretty well convinced it’s “better”), the Supreme Court has read our Constitution to… Read more »
Tom M. Tango
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Tom M. Tango
Craig said: “I welcome the same scrutiny of my work that any MSM journalist normally receives, and in fact, I’d be insulted if someone told me that I’m subject to a lower standard as a blogger. “ I respond: Craig, do you actually do this yourself?  Do you hold the WSJ to the same standard that you hold Hannity or Olbermann?  Or do you do as I suggest, and evaluate people based on their own standards?  You, as a lawyer, where ethics and morality plays a prime role, need in your self-interests to be evaluated to a higher standard.  For… Read more »
Sara K
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Sara K

LCee, I think that while Tom maybe opposed to thier politics, the reason he notes them is that their rhetorical standards would seem to fall below what we are apparently supposed to expect from ‘legitimate’ journalists.  The fact that they are all conservatives does distract from the point, but the point is worth pursuing – if there is some standard all who write for the public should adhere to, whose standard is it? Where is it described?  Who are its models?

That is to say, whose standard are we supposed to measure Morris against?

Geoff Baker
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Geoff Baker
For Bill, Actually, though, Ichiro’s OBP was only marginally better in 2007 than it is now. The only reason he’s not blowing that away is because his walk rate is way down. Why should he walk when he’s crushing the ball? And since when does steroids talk and speculation center around OBP? Fact is, Ichiro is on-pace for his best OPS and slugging percentage since 2004, his most home runs and isolated power since 2005 and his most doubles since 2001. His OPS and slugging is the best of his career because of the home runs and doubles. That’s the… Read more »
Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra
“Do you hold the WSJ to the same standard that you hold Hannity or Olbermann?  Or do you do as I suggest, and evaluate people based on their own standards?” With the caveat that I no longer watch cable news of any type, I’ll offer that I don’t consider Hannity and Olbermann on the one hand, and the WSJ on the other, to be in the same business.  The talking heads are entertainers, and within their little world, yes, I hold them all to the same standard, and that standard is hardly ever met (thus my abandonment of them). And… Read more »
michael standish
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michael standish

Better Late Than Never Department:

Someone should have the decency to inform Capper that some lunatic is sending deeply weird messages to the Shyster under his (Capper’s, that is) name.

Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra

The point—I’ll add—is that if there is a distinction in standards to be made (and I’ll grant that there may be) it’s not to be based on whether one is a blogger or online or reporter for a print enterprise.

Tom M. Tango
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Tom M. Tango
Craig said: “The point—I’ll add—is that if there is a distinction in standards to be made (and I’ll grant that there may be) it’s not to be based on whether one is a blogger or online or reporter for a print enterprise.” Right, as my examples of Lehrer v O’Reilly would suggest.  They are both delivering topical pieces on TV, but I will hold them to the standards that they themselves (implicitly) suggest. I will hold WSJ to a different standard than the NY Daily news, even though they get their newsprint from the same forest. I will hold WSJ.com… Read more »
Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra
“I will hold WSJ to a different standard than the NY Daily news” If they’re both reporting that X happened in Y location yesterday, why would you hold them to a different standard? If Morris and Posnanski are both handicapping the pennant races, why would you hold them to a different standard? You can certainly take reputations into account when it comes to whether to read someone and, depending on what someone is saying, whether you trust them, but for very basic things like is someone reporting accurate news or is someone offering a compelling argument, I don’t see how… Read more »
Sara K
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Sara K

Or a desire to take a closer look at the speculation, offer various ways of interpreting the information at hand, make the point that although we are at a point where we speculate reflexively, no case is ever so cut-and-dried…

Yes, I understand why you aren’t comfortable that he used a named case study for his examination, but we have different interpretations of the purpose and effect of the article.

Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall
Re: Standards. The way we set standards was perfectly articulated by Craig above: “Give me full credit whenI do something good, give me full scorn when I #### up.” Bingo. This discussion is the way standards get set. Rational performers in the culture adapt their conduct to the consensus. Those who don’t ultimately lose respect, credibility and influence. Censors are unnecessary. But neither can one individual set a personal standard and ignore the professional consensus. Dan Rather and CBS were positing new journalistic standards on “60 Minutes” when they attempted to use a forged letter to “prove” what was probably… Read more »
Tom M. Tango
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Tom M. Tango
Craig said: “If they’re both reporting that X happened in Y location yesterday, why would you hold them to a different standard?” If Reuters is reporting something that is happening in Iran today, I will trust them more than if NY Daily News is reporting on the events there.  Reuters NEEDS to be as accurate as possible.  NY Daily News just needs to be “close enough”. As for your ESPN example of analyzing the Mitchell report, I will hold them to a pretty low standard, and I will look to you, and other legal bloggers for the best way to… Read more »
Sara K
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Sara K
I think the distinction has something – if not everything – to do with audience.  As I teach my ENGL 101 kids, subject matter, level of diction, amount and kind of information presented, and types of reasoning all depend heavily on the experience, knowledge, and expectations of the audience.  When writing for the general public, as Geoff does, I suppose the content really needs to be “safe” and the reasoning not too far from obvious.  For a smaller audience whose philosophical orientation and expectations are understood and serve to provide a context for subject matter, a writer might offer content… Read more »
Tom M. Tango
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Tom M. Tango
Jack, I would edit that Wiki entry as follows: “Ibáñez was the focus of a post in the blog “Midwest Sports Fans”[4].  The post attempted to look at his performance to determine if there was anything unusual, which could then be potentially linked to using performance-enhancing drugs (PED).  A local Philadelphia paper then used this blog post to get Ibanez to comment on the possibility of his PED use.  In response, Ibanez attacked the credibility of the blogger and whatever conclusions Ibanez believed were made.  It is unclear if Ibanez read the blog post when he made his comment.  The… Read more »
Sara K
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Sara K

Jack, unfortunately, that Wikipedia note is poorly worded.  It should read ” ‘Ibáñez was the focus of a post in the blog “Midwest Sports Fans”[4] which discussed fans’ perceptions of his stand-out 2009 season in terms of the post-Mitchell era.’ ”  The entry you quote is unfair to Morris as much as to Ibanez, since it misrepresents what he wrote about.

Craig Calcaterra
Guest
Craig Calcaterra
“If Reuters is reporting something that is happening in Iran today, I will trust them more than if NY Daily News is reporting on the events there.  Reuters NEEDS to be as accurate as possible.  NY Daily News just needs to be “close enough”. I don’t think we disagree on that. What I thought we were discussing, though, wasn’t whether one of those sources is more likely to be right about something before things are definitively known. It’s whether, after the reports come out, and one is proven to right and one wrong (or both right or both wrong) one… Read more »
Tom M. Tango
Guest
Tom M. Tango
I like Sara K’s wiki correction better. *** Ok, if Reuters says that re-elections will happen, and if NY Daily News says that recounts will happen, and then: a. re-elections actually happen, then we give high praise to Reuters, and a bit of scorn to NYDN b. re-counts actually happen, then we are tickled pink with NYDN, and Reuters takes a big hit Is this “fair”?  Irrelevant.  This IS what would happen. Basically, if you had a stock market for “reporting news”, Reuters would start at 100$ and NYDN would start at 50$.  The stock prices would move as follows… Read more »
Sara K
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Sara K

Craig, I see your point, though I would add that if a news source makes an overt effort to advertise their stellar reputation for accuracy and uses it to secure ad revenue, research privileges and readership, I would be more likely to scorn that news source for shoddy work.  It’s not necessarily a matter of judging based on reputation but judging based on self-representation.  A minor point, admittedly, and not an excuse for acting in bad faith regardless.  Just sayin’.

Jack Marshall
Guest
Jack Marshall
Tom: I like yours a lot better, for sure. You should try to enter it. I mean it. Sara, you’re right, but I also think the Wiki blurb was a wholly predictable distillation of the whole mess, ending up with Ibanez the victim (note that Morris doesn’t have his name mentioned). Look, I’ve made Morris’s mistake myself. On my ethics site that nobody reads, I wrote about a local school flap in another state (based on the accounts of local papers) where a teacher got fired for having her class write a paper about what the school had been like… Read more »
The Common Man
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The Common Man
C’mon, Jack, be honest, you added that bit to Ibanez’s page yourself. Again, though, that through all your finger-wagging and outrage at Morris, you never proved your underlying assumption, that what Morris did was “gratuitously and irresponsibly harming others, or publicizing falsities, or being gratuitously mean or unfair.”  Unless you can demonstrate that to a reasonable degree, your argument doesn’t hold water.  Never has. From before:  “Your interpretation is that he was deliberately evasive to throw a bomb and run away before it went off.  I, and apparently many others, see it as an acknowledgement of the times we live… Read more »
The Rabbit
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The Rabbit
@Jack, I happen to agree with you completely that societal ethical standards and, clearly, the ethical standards of those who are deemed by the reader responsible for disseminating “fact” should surpass legal definitions for defamation, libel, or slander (depending on the medium).  No one should have to defend themselves against innuendo, nor, to use a phrase from “The Common Man” have a burden of proof of innocence against media rantings, suppositions, and, quite often, imagination; therefore, “Should the accusation be made?” is highly relevant.  @Tom, if I understand your post, because left side of that bell-shaped curve called “ethical reporting”… Read more »
Jason
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Jason

Jack Marshall: “I just checked the Wikipedia entry for Ibanez, which now includes THIS:

‘Ibáñez was the focus of a post in the blog “Midwest Sports Fans”[4] which raised concerns that he was using performance-enhancing drugs.’”

“Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information.” – Michael Scott

Sara K
Guest
Sara K

Jack, you didn’t “make Morris’s mistake.”  You didn’t write something with a specific thesis in mind that was then misinterpreted in a larger forum.  You wrote something based on ultimately misleading information published by a news source. Once you found out that the information was false, you put out a correction.  You did nothing wrong, unless you feel your mistake was publishing something based on local news reports.  Is that the mistake you think you made?

Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall

Common Man( loved you in “A Man for All Seasons”, by the way!):

Harm, you ask?

“A lost good name is ne’er retriev’d.” (John Gay)

“O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation!  (William Shakespeare)

“A good reputation is more valuable than money.”  (Publilius Syrus)

“Better to die than to live on with a bad reputation.” (Vietnamese Proverb)

“Glass, china, and reputation are easily cracked, and never mended well.”  (Benjamin Franklin)

“A good name, like good will, is got by many actions and lost by one.” (Francis Jeffery)

Craig Calcaterra
Guest
Craig Calcaterra
“Ok, if Reuters says that re-elections will happen, and if NY Daily News says that recounts will happen, and then: “a. re-elections actually happen, then we give high praise to Reuters, and a bit of scorn to NYDN b. re-counts actually happen, then we are tickled pink with NYDN, and Reuters takes a big hit “Is this “fair”?  Irrelevant.  This IS what would happen.” I don’t doubt that. I’m not suggesting that the scorn or praise will impact the balance of everyone’s credibility account in the same fashion, or that it even should.  Dovetailing it in with Sara’s point, yes,… Read more »
Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra

Jack—really.  Are we talking about actual harm here, or merely remote potential of reputational harm? From everything I’ve seen, Ibanez has actually come out of this looking far better than he did before. He’s passionate!  He’s the victim of some evil blogger!

Reputational harm is important, but nothing in this episode did anything to remotely hurt Ibanez. If anything, Morris has a way better claim to having had his reputation sullied than does Ibanez.

The Common Man
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The Common Man

And those are nice quotes, Jack.  I have one too,

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  – Second Grade

But none of them are specific to this situation.  Again, demonstrate the harm you say Ibanez is suffering from, especially in light of Craig’s assessment (which seems spot-on to me).

Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall

Dear Sara…Here’s what I did wrong, I think: I didn’t think enough about about the possible or even likely consequences to the human being on the other end of my critique, and relying on sketchy accounts from rinky-dink papers was not sufficient due diligence.

Tom M. Tango
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Tom M. Tango
Geoff said: Which is why this type of speculation about Ibanez is bunk. You could speculate about anybody, given what we know about PEDs. Morris had zero grounds to do so, other than the whispers of the uninformed, chattering classes, who he gave a voice to for whatever resaon. I respond: Yes, Geoff’s POV is entirely justifiable.  If he wants to conclude that Morris’s article had a crappy thesis, and poor execution, that’s fine.  His article however is not a reason for MSM outrage. First, MSM turned this into a story by feeding it to Ibanez to get the completely… Read more »
Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall
TCM: That’s called “The David Letterman Defense.” But we know that words CAN hurt you, in tangible ways. Craig: Only Ibanez can say, ultimately, how he has been harmed, and the All-Star vote isn’t probative. Rod Blagojevich is getting talk show gigs and other fun stuff, and maybe he’s doing just fine, but his reputation is shot. Jessica Hahn, once a church secretary, parlayed public humiliation into breast implants, a career doing TV sleaze and Playboy features..that doesn’t prove she wasn’t harmed. I don’t think, in short, that you have to show actual harm to Ibanez for the post to… Read more »
The Rabbit
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The Rabbit
To the Common Man, Maybe I’m overly sensitive to this issue due to the content of a newspaper article that happened during my “15 minutes” which lasted about a year; however, just as “Is it appropriate to publish?” is being debated, the question “Is it mean or unfair?” can only truly be understood by the subject of the article.  If someone wanted to blast me for something I did and I actually did it, I had no problem. It’s the innuendo and fabrication that caused sleepless nights. Given the amount of venom that has been spewed by fans at players… Read more »
Jason
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Jason

“Only Ibanez can say, ultimately, how he has been harmed”

So if we can’t determine whether or not Ibanez was harmed, how can we condemn Morris’ blog post?

chattanooga
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chattanooga
Geoff, your substitution of Ichiro as a subject of PED speculation is a false analogy.  Ichiro has at one time, as you point out, produced at the level that he is currently at.  So our reasoning can accept that perhaps all of his peaks have come together in the same season.  Toss in the colloquial BP stories of Ichiro’s homerun power, and the whole season’s production is palatable.  However, Ibanez is paced for numbers he has NEVER produced in his career (he does not “own” this production ability), and is generating the increased output at an age when a vast… Read more »
Tom M. Tango
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Tom M. Tango
Selena Roberts is perfect.  In the view of some, her “news reporter” stock price is now at $10, right around In Touch magazine.  In the view of others, she’s still at $50, right where the tabloids are. “What should not happen, however, is that he not be called on it at all because of that reputation.” Right!  The level of “calling-outedness” is directly (not inversely) proportional to your reputation.  Reilly talks smack, he should be prepared to get smacked. *** As for the fallout, I agree with Craig’s assessment of Ibanez: he looks good here, real good. Geoff Baker takes… Read more »
Craig Calcaterra
Guest
Craig Calcaterra
“I don’t think, in short, that you have to show actual harm to Ibanez for the post to be regarded as reckless.” No, but we do have to show harm for it to be regarded as harmful, which is how it has been characterized. And no, it’s not necessarily up to Ibanez to determine whether it was harmful to his reputation. It may have hurt his feelings, but certainly that’s not what we’re interested in protecting here (if it is, I hereby resign from the blog).  No, we’re talking about reputation, which is a measure of how others see you,… Read more »
Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra

Tom—I think we need to immediately create a reputational stock market blog, because I’m really taken by the concept.

Nice work!

Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall

Craig: I thought the Wiki content answered the question about Ibanez. I think that’s “bad,” don’t you? (So hurry up and change it, Tom!)

Tom: I also endorse the reputational stock market blog idea. Brilliant.

Sara K
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Sara K
Jack, good on ya for having done the right thing in correcting your post.  It really seems like we should be able to trust news sources to tell the whole truth, not just churn out the angle their readers most want to hear.  Speaking of which, this whole conversation about Morris’s article relies on the assumption that the MSM sources that picked it up and made it news were themselves acting in good faith.  Warning – I am about to engage in a bit of speculation that may be considered unfair: FOXSports, ESPN, MLB Network, (etc. etc.) are business entities.… Read more »
Geoff Baker
Guest
Geoff Baker
For Tom, You’ve hit the nail on the head. Ibanez gave the “completely expected reaction’’ to something that seemed to backhandedly imply he was using steroids. You don’t think it did. I do. And more importantly, so does the guy it was written about. Of course he reacted that way. I’ll contend yet again that any normal person would have reacted that way to something written so carelessly about them. And Ibanez did react that way. You can try to accuse him of not reading the thing, as some have, or of not understanding it, but maybe you should give… Read more »
Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra

Sara—I figured that went without saying.  It’s my assumption that the Philly reporter read that and thought that it would make a great story to get Ibanez’s reaction to a blogger accusing him of juicing, even if that’s not what he was really doing.

My even more cynical side has me thinking that the Philly reporter himself harbored suspicions that Ibanez was juicing and needed some pretext to do so in order not to be seen as an ass.  enter blogger, enbaling the classic, passive-agressive “what do you say to the reports . . .” line of questioning.

Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall

Craig, Sara…you can’t be too cynical for me regarding the current state of journalistic ethics. This is a straight-through-the-floor curve, as far as I can see…whatever standards the Columbia School articulates, it’s clear that when everybody’s hitting the lifeboats, they don’t matter. And sports journalists were always on the dicey side, even before the whole profession started to rot. Sadly, your theories are quite plausible and reasonable.

Tom M. Tango
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Tom M. Tango

If you change “My even more cynical side” to “My natural inclination”, I ditto Craig’s paragraph.

Sara K
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Sara K

Indeed.  It seems that this is a lot less about what Morris said than what other people said he said. If he made a mistake in guaging his audience, it was that he didn’t anticipate that his article would give opportunistic reporters an opening to fling their own accusations.  I feel like we’re at the same philosophical point with regard to the media that Morris’s article was regard to the sport – it’s a damn shame that everything has to be reduced to the lowest common denominator because it sure kills our enjoyment of the higher end of the spectrum.

Tom M. Tango
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Tom M. Tango

Sara, fantastic! 

Fox “News” = PED.  The rest of the media has to take a hit because its brother-in-arms is so flagrant in its biased coverage.  And all baseball players will take a hit for keeping their heads in the sand while the world was burning.  And now, all the innocents are finally coming out as the rubble is settling.

Love it.

Jack Marshall
Guest
Jack Marshall
I SWEAR I tried to wrestle my metaphorical tongue to the ground, but I just have to say to Tom: Oh, PLEASE! When a CNN reporter confronts a protester with Democratic talking points and then says that protesting US economic policies is an attack on CNN—-and keeps her JOB!—-, when the editor of Newsweek says that the President is “like God,” when Time Magazine puts a Democratic candidate on its cover three times as often as the other party, and when ABC runs an infomercial from inside the White House and calls it a “news broadcast,” you think FOX is… Read more »
Tom M. Tango
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Tom M. Tango
Actually, I don’t think I ever said that Fox “News” was the only one that was biased, did I?  Most of American media sucks.  Fox is just so flagrant. My best example was when Palin was voted by 87% of Fox viewers to have won the Palin/Biden debate.  When CNN ran their poll, it was something like a 65% or something win for Biden. While all the networks are biased to some degree or other, Fox “News” ATTRACTS an extremely skewed kind of viewer.  You can tell alot about a person by the company he keeps.  And Fox “News” is… Read more »
Tom M. Tango
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Tom M. Tango

Btw, I’m Canadian, where these “liberal” politicians would be considered “conservative” in Canada.  America has no idea what “liberal” really is.  Maybe when women are allowed to bare their breasts in public without it causing commotion, then America might get it. 

If someone can find Alanis Morrissette hosting a music awards show, and coming out with a nude-suit showing her pubic hair at 8pm, and we think it’s funny and not disgusting, that might clear it up a bit.

Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall

Tom: I agree with every bit of that. Thanks for the clarification. Especially Olberman. What a waste. I can’t even look at him any more—-he has egomania dipping out of every pore. He’s like the anti-matter Bill O’Reilly.

Sara K
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Sara K

“America has no idea what “liberal” really is.”…
reminds me of a bit from “Beyond the Fringe” where Dudley Moore is soon to leave for America and his pals are telling him what it’s like: “In America, there are the Republicans, who are the equivalent of our Conservative party, and the Democrats, who are the equivalent of our Conservative party.”

lar
Guest
lar

Or, from the greatest animated show ever, Futurama:

(presidential debate between John Jackson and his clone, Jack Johnson)
John Jackson: “It’s time someone had the courage to stand up and say: I’m against those things that everybody hates.”
Jack Johnson: “Now, I respect my opponent. I think he’s a good man. But quite frankly, I agree with everything he just said.”
John Jackson: “I say your three cent titanium tax goes too far.”
Jack Johnson: “And I say your three cent titanium tax doesn’t go too far enough.”

Michael
Guest
Michael
Jack, even biting your metaphorical tongue, your political colors have been blatant – the rigidity of your opinions gave them away. Here’s my final thought: FOX must strongly portray one view (while claiming “fairness” and “balance”), because it’s how they make their money. No other reason. Hannity loves his paycheck and understands where it comes from. So does O’Reilly. It comes into focus when you glimpse their personal lives from time to time – and surprise, surprise, they live like liberals! MSNBC has discovered money by going in the other direction (and for balance’s sake, it’s about time). No other… Read more »
Michael
Guest
Michael

Another thought to chew on:

Working yourself up over the “ethics” of every single blogger in the country is as much a losing game as working yourself up over the ethics of every car driver that you see on the street. You can grouse all you want to, but it’s not going to stop the next dude from cutting you off.

TC
Guest
TC

Re: who makes the standards?

This quote is from The Economist’s Lexington columnist:

“I think blogging is a way to test out an argument, explore a corner of an idea, expand on a thought, update a story, or otherwise look at a loose thread.”

If Lexington/The Economist is qualified to set the standard for blogging, set a standard, maybe this is it, and if so, it seems to me that Jerrod Morris falls within it. 

I wasn’t looking for the quote, but happened across it moments ago, and just thought I’d share: reasonable DO seem to disagree.

Robert
Guest
Robert
Well, I don’t have the energy to read each page of comments, so what I’m writing may have previously been implied in another comment. Geoff, I don’t see how collectively speculating about 25 players is somehow more appropriate than speculation regarding one specific player.  You could defame a group of people, or a specific person.  Either way, it’s defamation. Also, I don’t think I’m clear on your defense of the Reilly accusation.  You say “Morris is not Rick Reilly.”  Are you seriously suggesting that Reilly has a different set of ethics he can choose to publish by? My final thought… Read more »
Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall

Ah, Michael,you scamp, I knew you’d respond sooner or later!

Your analysis of my political views is just as flawed as your other analytical efforts, at least as reflected here. Yes, I have core principles that I believe in and try to apply consistently as much as possible. You can call that “rigidity” if you like, but integrity has no idiological bias.

TC
Guest
TC
Part of me feels bad for addressing my comment at Jack: he seems to be juggling a lot of torches in this comment thread.  He is also saying, often, the most interesting counter-points, so what can I do? Anyway, Jack, you said: “Craig: Only Ibanez can say, ultimately, how he has been harmed, and the All-Star vote isn’t probative. Rod Blagojevich is getting talk show gigs and other fun stuff, and maybe he’s doing just fine, but his reputation is shot. Jessica Hahn, once a church secretary, parlayed public humiliation into breast implants, a career doing TV sleaze and Playboy… Read more »
Jack Marshall
Guest
Jack Marshall

TC: That’s a fascinating point, and I have to think about it. (one of those torches fell on my head, and I’m slow right now.)  We do have lots of things like that; one of the most bizarre is sexual harassment, where two guys are breaking behavioral norms by obnoxiously hectoring a woman for a date, but the only one who will be found liable for harassment is the one who annoys her. She can sue one and marry the other, even though their conduct was identical!

Tom M. Tango
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Tom M. Tango
Jack said: Does one have a “right” to publish unfair, careless, mean-spirited bile? Sure thing, but maintaining that it’s fine and dandy to do so as long as one has sufficiently abyssmal “personal standards” is just bizarre. I respond: I basically look at the continuum where you have Rush, Hannity, O’Reilly on one side, and whoever is the standard bearer these days (Lehrer?  Gibson?  whoever you want to name) on the other side.  Morris is clearly somewhere in between, and in no way is he worse than the three musketeers. We all agree that everyone is allowed to say whatever… Read more »
Tom M. Tango
Guest
Tom M. Tango

And when I say this:

“and it IS fine and dandy that they do what they do, since they are consistent with their standards”

I mean as well that it’s because I will let society (TV viewers) decide for themselves whether to listen to them or not.  I am not in favor of having some ethical or moral compass be set so that everyone has to revolve around that.  Let people do whatever they need to do (within the bounds of the law), and the “Wisdom of the Crowd” will tune them out as they see fit.

Michael
Guest
Michael

Tom: I’m surprised we’re giving Jack so much benefit of doubt that he’s making a reasoned argument.

From where I’m standing it smacks of the resolute I’m-right-you’re-wrong sports-talk/hot-talk discourse, and I’m not interested in fighting holy wars, or reasoning with the unreasonable. Jack can feel free to surprise me with a constructive grasp of the issue, but I’m not holding my breath.

J.W.
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J.W.
First off, quickly, thank you Mr. Baker for taking the time to respond. I agree 2 wrongs do not make a right, I obviously would not expect you to read every article written about baseball, and I appreciate and agree with the underlying rationale of your response. I think what this discussion has shown is that taking things in voids and vacuums are bad and civil discussion is good. (Um, duh.) But seriously, I, for one, now understand and appreciate Mr. Baker’s initial arguments much better. I also understand the counterarguments much better. But more importantly, I think we also… Read more »
LCee
Guest
LCee

OK, Tom, we get it: you like neither the Fox News Channel nor conservative talk show hosts. Thanks for repeatedly sharing that information.

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