Friday, January 27, 2012

Circular Reasoning of the Day

One of the more controversial books inside the beltway is The Obamas, by Jodi Kantor. Even the White House has raised questions about the author's access to sources and the accuracy and knowledge of those sources. Is there a scandal?

Well, not if you believe the New York Times. The paper's January 9th review of the book dismissed the doubts in a single sentence:
In lesser hands "The Obamas" would be an act of astonishing overreach, but Ms. Kantor, who covered the Obamas for The New York Times during the 2008 presidential campaign, and is currently a Washington correspondent for the paper, has earned the voice of authority.
Huh? As Andrew Ferguson says in the Weekly Standard:
The reviewer didn’t go on to explain what exactly Jodi Kantor did to earn her authority, other than to work for the New York Times.

I can hear the skeptics already--should we really trust the word of the New York Times about the trustworthiness of the New York Times? Perhaps the skeptics get hung up on the circular reasoning, not realizing that it is this circularity that perpetuates the grand reputation of the Times and its many writers and reporters: Why can you trust the New York Times? Because it employs authoritative reporters like Jodi Kantor. How do we know Jodi Kantor is authoritative? Because otherwise she wouldn’t work for the New York Times.
The Times and its readers remain trapped in the late Pauline Kael's bizarrely naive "hermetic liberal provincialism." Good: that's how leftists lose elections.

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