Trash Journalism

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorOct 20, 2009 5:03 PM


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Over my cornflakes this morning I was mulling this comment by Deltoid's Tim Lambert, which he left in response to my criticism yesterday of Joe Romm, who is on the hot seat for claiming

It is exceedingly common in regular journalism to ask people for a quote that makes a very specific point "” I've been asked many times by reporters to do similar things.

Now, before I address Lambert's astonishing comment, let's remind readers what Romm first told Stanford's Ken Caldiera, whom Romm was seeking a specific quote from, relating to Caldiera's controversial role in the Superfreakonomics book by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt. As detailed by Dubner on his NYT blog, Romm explained his motivation thus in an email to Caldeira:

I want to trash them for this insanity and ignorance.

Not enough has been said about that. I'm returning to it, because in his response to me, Lambert is obviously approving of such behavior, because he writes:

I think Romm was refreshingly honest.

This just blows my mind. It would be one thing if Romm said to Caldeira, I want to refute Dubner and Levitt, or I want to repudiate them. But no, Romm says he wants to trash them. That's plainly out of bounds. That's not how reputable journalists operate--we don't set out to deliberately trash people. Yet Lambert finds this "refresingly honest." No, Tim, this is trash journalism. Update, Oct 21: Romm still can't bring himself to admit he erred:

Given the circumstances, I don't think I did anything wrong.

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