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Aug 22 2013

Jeffrey Toobin embarrasses journalism even more

I have written several times before of how the New Yorker‘s legal correspondent Jeffrey Toobin has revealed himself to be a hack, especially when it comes to whistleblowing (see here, here, and here).

But in his latest piece denouncing Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations, he has surpassed himself. The opening paragraphs contain such a glaring logical howler that one is incredulous that anyone who considers himself to be a serious commentator could write it.

The assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy led directly to the passage of a historic law, the Gun Control Act of 1968. Does that change your view of the assassinations? Should we be grateful for the deaths of these two men?

Of course not. That’s lunatic logic. But the same reasoning is now being applied to the actions of Edward Snowden. Yes, the thinking goes, Snowden may have violated the law, but the outcome has been so worthwhile. According to Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who was one of the primary vehicles for Snowden’s disclosures, Snowden “is very pleased with the debate that is arising in many countries around the world on Internet privacy and U.S. spying. It is exactly the debate he wanted to inform.”

I was going to deconstruct this piece but Charles P. Pierce of Esquire magazine has done a much better job, showing how it reveals the inner authoritarian that lurks within the liberal psyche.

There is one thing for which we can thank Edward Snowden, International Man Of Luggage. His revelations clearly have delineated, once and for all, the parameters of liberalism’s inner authoritarian. We all have one, that little voice that whispers, “Not all slopes are slippery,” and we take its advice and then, 60 years or so later, we wonder how we all wound up in the ditch.

I am sorry, but I’d forgotten how, at trial, James Earl Ray mounted a defense saying that he’d iced Dr. King in order that the country might have more effective gun control.

The full piece is well worth reading.

3 comments

  1. 1
    jamessweet

    Don’t have time to read both pieces in their entirety, but this one is easy:

    If Snowden’s actions had led to tighter laws against whistleblowing, and we all decided that was a good thing, then the analogy would be apt.

    If people were arguing that the NSA’s actions were a net positive, because they led to a public debate on transparency in snooping, then the analogy would be apt.

    There is no direct analogy between “bad illegal action leads to more public debate about that class of action” vs. “illegal action exposes other bad actions, which leads to more public debate about the latter class of actions”. They just are not analogous in any meaningful way.

  2. 2
    wtfwhatever

    While I agree in the large with you and Pierce, regardless when he writes this:

    “. We all have one, that little voice that whispers, “Not all slopes are slippery,””

    He is arguing we should fall for a well known logical fallacy:

    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/slippery-slope.html

    That little voice that whispers “Not all slopes are slippery”? That’s the voice of logic.

  3. 3
    colnago80

    As I have stated before, Toobin is an asshole and the New Yorker should be ashamed of itself for granting him space in their magazine for his crap. I knew that a long time ago after reading his “book” on the Simpson trial which was full of howlers. Much like another putz, Vincent Bugliosi, who pontificated on the trial, despite admitting that he hadn’t watched it or read the transcript. His analysis of the Warren Report on the Kennedy assassination, particularly the Zapruder film was total crap. Bugliosi is best known for convicting Charles Manson, bringing it up every time he appears as a talking head on a cable news network. What he doesn’t tell his audience is that, without the testimony of Linda Kasabian, he wouldn’t have convicted Manson of spitting on the sidewalk.

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