13 Problems with Erik Wemple’s “17 Problems with The New York Observer’s Hit Piece on the NY Times”

The New York Observer published a juicy takedown of the New York Times’ editorial page, eviscerating its editor Andrew Rosenthal and some of its most notable columnists, including Thomas Friedman.

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple responded with a takedown of his own, identifying 17 (alleged) problems with the Observer piece. But, Wemple’s analysis is itself flawed. In 13 ways:

. . . .

[A brief sample – ed] Wemple’s critique of the use of anonymous sources is not particularly valid in this specific case. Are current newsroom staffers going to go on the record trashing some of their paper’s most powerful editors? Unlikely. How may employees anywhere would trash their bossed on the record in a newspaper? Not many, maybe none. That’s why anonymous sources are sometimes necessary: to tell stories that otherwise would not be told. When multiple anonymous sources concur and competing perspectives are offered on the record, readers can determine for themselves whom to believe.

Some disputes are destined to degenerate into a rhetorical back-and-forth in which the reader’s view vacillates depending on which side she has read most recently. But here, no matter what I’ve read last, I come out of it thinking the NYT’s editorial side is in dire straits.

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