The Village Times




Arthur Brisbane

Hi everyone. Hope you don't mind if I solicit some feedback from you on a subject that's been bothering me lately. What I'm looking for are your thoughts on, well, truth. Now, don't run away screaming in fear just yet, lol. I reallyreallyreally want to collect your thoughts on this.


My question is, should reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by the newsmakers they write about? If important people—supreme court justices, politicians, corporate honchos—give us the old runaround, do we call them on it, or let the obfuscation stand? For instance, when Mitt Romney says Obama has been apologizing for America, should we delve deeper into the claim or merely transcribe and publish it? I doubt that Obama has ever apologized for America, but if some of his statements and actions come across as even mildly apologetic, does this make Romney's statement valid?


Sorry for the uncertainty, but, well, with the presidential campaign upon us, I felt that the issue was important enough to bring before you.


Arthur Brisbane, public editor for the New York Times




Jean Shephard


Arthur, believe me, I feel your pain, LOL. I went through this same thing at NPR. Some people were, to put it mildly, cross with us for not describing waterboarding as torture. As I explained in my June 2009 ombudsman column (which earned a Village citation, not to brag, LMAO!), formers president Bush and former vice president Cheney and their supporters maintained that waterboarding wasn't torture. So that was a case where you had two different opinions, and we chose to adopt the Bush/Cheney stance. I say, when in doubt, go with the experts. Hope this helps.

Alicia Shephard, Ombudsman, National Public Radio


David Gregory thumb


I'm with Alicia on this. People on the outside looking in don't understand the challenges we face. They think we can just go up to political leaders and "ask tough questions" and "hold their feet to the fire." Sure. Try that and see how long your access lasts! Like I told former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford when asking him to be on my show, "coming on Meet the Press allows you to frame the conversation how you really want to... and then move on" It's not our role to make qualitative evaluations of all this stuff.

David Gregory, host, Meet the Press


Charles Gibson


Been out of the game for a bit, but I hope you don't mind if I chime in. I too have been taken to task by the "Truth Police," particularly with respect to my reporting during the run-up to the War in Iraq. As David said, I think these attacks reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of what we do. We ask the questions, they give the answers, and that's where we leave it. We start digging around, challenging assertions, questioning intelligence, etc., we'll barely have time for hair and makeup! My advice, Arthur, is to print what they say. Trust me on this. As I stated on the "Early Show" in 2008, if could go back and do it over again, I wouldn't change a thing.

Charles Gibson, anchor, ABC News (retired)