Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Newsweek, hoaxes, and addiction to the narrative

Newsweek editor Evan Thomas became infamous for defending his magazines mistakes in the Duke lacrosse hoax with the bizarre justification:

The narrative was properly about race, sex and class. . . . We just got the facts wrong. The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong.
Apparently, this attitude was not new when Newsweek went to Durham.

A couple of years later I was arguing the Tawana Brawley case with a Newsweek editor in a radio interview. When it became obvious that a) Brawley had been making the whole thing up and b) the editor knew very little about the case, he finally blurted out, “It really doesn’t matter. This case isn’t about one young woman being raped by a group of white men. It’s about the whole history of white men taking advantage of black women back to the days of slavery.” So there you have it. When the facts conflict with the narrative, the facts must give way.



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