The trouble with the Economist

May 1, 2011

I’m a fan of the Economist. I love the wealth of information it offers from all around the world, which is really unmatched by anything else in the media (new or old). But they like to drop unsupported ideological nuggets into their reporting. Those nuggets tend to be opinion, but sometime they venture into assertions of fact.

Case in point: In a recent article (subscription required) on efforts to defund NPR, they assert that James O’Keefe’s NPR sting video was deceptively edited:

Those suspicions were reinforced earlier this year, when a video appeared to show the network’s top fund-raiser making disparaging comments about Republicans. Though the tape was deceptively edited, the fallout cost NPR’s president her job.

(Emphasis mine.) This is typical of the sort of nugget I’m talking about: it’s not supported by any reporting and it’s not essential to the story. They just want the reader to know, in passing, what they are supposed to think of the video.

But it simply isn’t true. First of all, the original video was not deceptively edited. More importantly, O’Keefe, within hours, released the entire unedited video so that people could judge for themselves. That is a standard of ethics unmatched by the legacy media, which generally won’t release raw video at all, much less contemporaneously.

The Economist is great because of the news it reports that you can’t get anywhere else, but stuff like this makes you wonder how much of that reporting is accurate.

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