Monday, October 6, 2008

Backward-Looking Complaint in Wall St. Journal is Itself Backward-Looking

Readers of this blog know I don't go political, but I will look at how the media handles politics if it is instructive for PR professionals.

This may be an exception. But please note, the point I do want to make is not about politics but about the final product, an opinion column in one of the best newspapers in the world.

Today's Wall St. Journal ran an opinion piece,"No, Iraq Wasn't a 'Distraction': What if FDR had stuck to fighting the Japanese in the Pacific?" by David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, Washington, DC lawyers who served in the DOJ under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush and advise John McCain's presidential campaign.

Here's the first sentence of the second paragraph, which sets the argument: "As Mrs. Palin pointed out, when it comes to foreign policy, the Obama-Biden team is backward looking. It continues to view international issues through the prism of opposition to George W. Bush."

Here's the fifth paragraph in its entirety: "This is exactly what President Franklin Roosevelt did in World War II when he chose to dedicate initially the bulk of American resources to the European theater, believing that destroying Hitler's Reich was the most urgent task and that Imperial Japan could be dealt with in turn; history proved him right. Yet, under the Obama-Biden playbook, FDR blundered by getting distracted from the 'real' war -- in the Pacific, where America had been attacked.

So, if you're paying attention, the Obama-Biden team is guilty of having a backwards-looking foreign policy. And how did the authors, two McCain campaign advisers, make the point that Obama-Biden's policy is dangerous? By citing U.S. strategy used to fight World War II, an example from more than 60 years ago.

I'm not trying to raise the issue of politics here (or whether Iraq is Hitler's Germany to bin Laden's Japan, according to Rivken & Casey's analogy), but of copyediting. Here, in part, is the summary of the article: "Our opponent has a backwards-looking foreign policy, and here's an example from more than 60 years ago that proves that a backwards-looking policy could be disastrous."

I've been told by a generally reliable source that the Journal's editorial staff has been reduced from seven to three staffers. So I'm wondering if the smaller staff and greater demands prevent the Journal's editors from carefully reading this piece before it was published? I've published op-eds before, and I know that editors used to not only fact check articles but also make sure the internal logic was consistent.

In this case, it appears the Journal did not.

No comments: