haithabu wrote:Prager is a well known conservative commentator; he doesn't represent himself as a journalist.
I think he does, here's what I saw at the bottom of the page.
If it's the alternative to the mainstream media, it needs to be held to the same standards.
I'd like to avoid this danger Orwell mentioned:
Orwell wrote:Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them ...
Applying the same standards to both sides is critical if we want to get beyond partisan groupthink. Most of us are sure that the other guy is the victim of partisan groupthink and we are completely rational, but there's a reason that propaganda is so effective - most people are human beings. That's why thoughtful rules for examining what we read can be helpful.
One of the things I like about Orwell is that he was thoughtful in criticizing his own side, and applied his standards to himself too. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Orwell was a Social Democrat, with plenty of criticism of people on the Left - even of people who substantially agree with him. I don't see that in Prager, his is framed in terms of the mainstream media, which he positions as the enemy. Here is his list as he phrased it:
- Lesson No. 1: When the mainstream media write or say that a conservative “suggested” something that sounds outrageous, it usually means the conservative never actually said it.
- Lesson No. 2: When used by the mainstream media, the words “divisive” or “contentious” simply mean “leftists disagree with.”
- Lesson No. 3: Contrary evidence is omitted.
- Lesson No. 4: Subjects are covered in line with left-wing ideology.
This really isn't a list that helps you read an article to decide if it's accurate, like the lists that Temp and I remember. To do that, I think you would have to remove the terms that say it's only relevant for one side.
Let me try to reword this to make it relevant to both sides. I don't think the first two are exactly rules, but things to be understand about most writing across the spectrum:
- Lesson No. 1: Quotations that are not in quotation marks are "indirect quotes", and do not preserve the original wording exactly. See Quotation Marks: Rules How to Use Them Correctly. Example from Prager's article:I have never in my life written or said that “liberalism is a cancer.” What I did write recently is that “leftism is a terminal cancer in the American bloodstream.”
And it might be worth adding a note that people don't always mean the same thing by words like "liberalism", "leftism", "conservatism", etc., which can lead to confusion - Orwell mentioned that in one of the quotes in the OP.
- Lesson No. 2: The words “divisive” or “contentious” simply mean “there is strong disagreement about this.”
Examples from the Daily Caller site: contentious, divisive
The second two point to rules worth keeping in mind:
- Lesson No. 3: Has all of the most relevant information been included? Have all the major people involved in the story been given a fair chance to express their views?
- Lesson No. 4: Does the article seem to be forcing the story into an ideological narrative, rather than letting the story itself drive the narrative?
What other rules are useful, assuming "what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander"?