Thursday, September 16, 2004

J'accuse Jodi Wilgoren

Does anybody ever look forward to reading an article in The New York Times written by Jodi Wilgoren?

A plethora of pundits and bloggers from the right and the left (and somewhere inbetween) repeatedly rail against this "political" reporter's non-stop sloppy hackwork. Some of my favorite Wilgorenisms include: once calling John Kerry a "caged hamster"; a Father's Day attack on Kerry (as a "limousine liberal") which made sure to mention the cost of the "gentleman's fishing vessel" he used while on holiday in Nantucket Island; and the classic "Dean smirking his trademarked smirk" line - which would probably be a good case for George Bush's attorneys to invoke copyright infringement. A google search combining "Jodi Wilgoren" and bias (Google-a-hack) produces 1260 hits (1261 after I hit "publish post").

Last January, Tim Withers, an enterprising Deaniac, started his own (sadly discontinued) blog called Wilgoren Watch to keep an eye on her blunders. Not long after, other bloggers followed suit, mounting an "adopt a journalist" campaign to track the political bias of some of the most egregious third estaters such as Patricia Wilson from Reuters and Associated Press reporter Nedra Pickler. An article on Wired News written by Noah Shachtman revealed that Ms. Wilgoren had even visited Mr. Withers' blog: "It's always great to have people reading my work and discussing it," Wilgoren wrote in an e-mail.

Elsewhere, Ms. Wilgoren also e-mailed Mark Glazer at Online Journalism Review and wrote that "I don't think Wilgoren Watch or the comparable blogs are motivated by profit or other cynical incentives," she said. "I just think that what we're sure of about them is that they have a particular agenda, and what we're not sure of is their particular qualifications as critics." I'm assuming that her use of "we" includes her editors at the Times (but - hey - I'm just an average, unqualified critic who carries an obviously liberal agenda).

The staff at Time Watch, the website for the staunchly conservative Media Research Center, dedicated to documenting and exposing the (according to them) liberal political agenda of The New York Times, can't stand her either: Neocon Wilgoren Watch. But, then again, they also believe (or pretend to believe) that the middle-of-the-road Dan Rather is some kind of Noam Chomsky clone.

The Times editors probably believe that since both sides hate her so much, well then, she must be doing something right. In the aforementioned Wired News piece Wilgoren also claimed that her "adoption" hadn't changed her reporting: When asked if the Wilgoren Watch has influenced her coverage in any way, she responded, "Not that I can tell."

But - again I ask - does anybody ever look forward to reading an article in The New York Times written by Jodi Wilgoren?

In yesterday's edition (Wednesday, September 15, 2004), The Times offered up Jodi Wilgoren's "Kerry Says Washington Hides Medicare's Cost to People." While I could easily nitpick the article and point out the numerous instances of bias and cheesey-cheese, I'll limit myself to the final sentence of the story which talked about John Edwards (the one-man-Dick-Cheney-counter-assault team). "His standard campaign speech is now chock full of references to Halliburton, the energy company Vice President Cheney once headed, and accusations it overcharged the military on contracts related to the Iraq reconstruction."


Perhaps The New York Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent can take some time to explain to Ms. Wilgoren that there is no need to hurl accusations (which inherently imply that the accused is innocent until proven guilty) after a criminal has already confessed. I'm sure she's well aware that Halliburton has been forced to admit that they did overcharge the U.S. government, on more than one bill, for services rendered (or not rendered) in Iraq and, as a result, their open account at the public trough - until recently - was even temporarily frozen.

At least Judith Miller (my least favorite Timeser and a key reason why we are back in Iraq) - even when she's lying - can be counted on to stick to an established agenda: a neoconservative one. Not to her credit, Ms. Wilgoren's agenda is nonexistent; unless it's to be regarded as nothing but a nincompoop.

Therefore, I accusingly accuse Jodi Wilgoren of possessing no particular qualifications to be anything that even closely resembles a real, live journalist. Nor even a "caged hamster."


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