Like most Americans, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to see Michael Moore’s new film, “Fahrenheit 9/11”, so I’m certainly not qualified to critique it.
But that doesn’t stop Seattle Times editorial columnist Collin Levey from attacking the film as a “dishonest infomercial” in her ideologically sanctioned screed, The Moore you know, the less you blame Disney.
Ms. Levey recently came to The Times, with some fanfare, from the Op/Ed pages of The Wall Street Journal: a prestigious publication with a well-earned reputation for thorough reporting and rabidly partisan, right-wing editorials.
Curious as to her journalistic rigor, I emailed Ms. Levey, asking her why she felt so comfortable characterizing as dishonest, a film she hadn’t seen. She curtly replied “You might find these useful:” and appended two columns by Alan Murray of — you guessed it — The Wall Street Journal. Barring clairvoyance, I can only infer that it was Mr. Murray’s description of the film from which she based her own impressions.
Of course, he didn’t see it either, but at least he bothered to tell his readers.
Ms. Levey, on the other hand, couldn’t spare a column inch to share her own methodology… which apparently consisted of a thorough reading of her former publication.
I’m guessing The Times didn’t know the bargain they were getting when they hired Ms. Levey. Not only do they gain the prestige of featuring a former WSJ editorialist, but they also get to harness the collected efforts of the colleagues she left behind.
If you’ve ever wondered what liberal critics mean when they refer to the “right-wing media echo chamber,” this is it. Whatever prompted Mr. Murray’s own ideological attacks, the party-line has now been repeated — indeed, amplified — in a local paper by a “local” columnist. The result (perhaps, the goal) is to transform a political charge into common wisdom… through sheer repetition.
The fact that Ms. Levey relies on the WSJ to support her thesis, understandably impresses her new bosses more than it does me. But the fact that she relies on the WSJ as the unattributed source of her thesis, should give us all pause.
I only hope that that The Times demands more journalistic rigor of its film reviewers than it does of its columnists.