Washington Post reporter Paul Kane proffered what blogger Matthew Yglesias aptly called a "full-throated defense of journalism-as-stenography." Kane had been criticized by Media Matters that he had quoted Sen. Olympia Snowe (R.-Maine) as saying that Barack Obama's use of the filibuster-avoiding budget reconciliation tool would make it "infinitely more difficult to bridge the partisan divide" without noting that Snowe had backed budget reconciliation when it was used by George W. Bush.Asked in a WashingtonPost.com chat to defend himself against this criticism, Kane responded:
I'm sorry, what's to defend?
Someone tell Media Matters to get over themselves and their overblown ego of righteousness.We reported what Olympia Snowe said. That's what she said. That's what Republicans are saying. I really don't know what you want of us. We are not opinion writers whose job is to play some sorta gotcha game with lawmakers.
It's a little dismaying that we have to explain this to professional journalists, but what we want them to do is to examine official claims and put them in context. It's not clear why society would need the kind of institution that Kane thinks he works for; if we want to find out what Olympia Snowe said, we can sign up for her RSS feed.
See Extra!: "Meet the Stenographers: Press Shirks Duty to Scrutinize Official Claims" (11-12/04), by Steve Rendall.