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Weekend Update: Tonight's Puzzle

I Think the Atlantic Will Rue the Day It Let Jeffrey Goldberg onto Its Part of the Internet

Jonathan Schwarz rips Goldberg into shreds and gobbets with his sarcastic claws--and then eats the gobbets:

A Tiny Revolution: Jeffrey Goldberg Battles Manfully Against Internet's Glaring Flaws: Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg has a new blog at the Atlantic. This is great news, because Goldberg is one of the few people anywhere willing to grapple with the horrible weaknesses of the internet. For instance, here's Goldberg writing in Slate in October, 2002 in support of the Iraq war:

There is not sufficient space…for me to refute some of the arguments made in Slate over the past week against intervention, arguments made, I have noticed, by people with limited experience in the Middle East (Their lack of experience causes them to reach the naive conclusion that an invasion of Iraq will cause America to be loathed in the Middle East, rather than respected.)

Yes--Goldberg would have demolished the ridiculous arguments against invading Iraq, if only there were enough space on the internet. Man, he would have ripped them to shreds! But that's the problem with the online world, one that no one but Goldberg is willing to face: the internet has an extremely limited space for words.

Goldberg ran into exactly the same roadblock in one of his first posts:

I was telling Andrew about an on-line mugging I experienced at the hands of a person named Matt Haber, who is associated with the New York Observer...What bothered me about Mr. Haber's post was not its insults (a couple of which were funny) but that he repeated a discredited accusation made by an ethically-challenged journalist about my reporting without having sought my comment.

You can understand how frustrated Goldberg would be by this. Matt Haber had quoted Ken Silverstein of Harper's saying that Goldberg's pre-war Iraq reporting "relied heavily on administration sources and war hawks (and in at least one crucial case, a fabricator)."

God, it would be SO GREAT if there were some invention that would give Goldberg enough room to demonstrate with evidence that Silverstein is ethically-challenged and his claim has been discredited. Even better would be if this invention allowed Goldberg to easily direct readers' attention to such evidence elsewhere, thereby "linking" his post to it.

Perhaps someday science will provide us with such a glorious new means of communication. Certainly if it ever exists, Jeffrey Goldberg will make full use of it. He hates being forced to baldly assert things as fact and expect everyone to take his word for it. But given the internet's terrible shortcomings, he has no other choice.

IT'S A COMMON PROBLEM: Other people who desperately wanted to explain themselves but just didn't have the space include Madeleine Albright and Saddam Hussein.

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

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