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February 28, 2008

Three Vetting Stories Went Awry at the New York Times: Find the Pattern.

Obama's drug use. Hillary's marriage. McCain's lobbyist. The New York Times made weird decisions in all three. So what gives?

Here’s my letter to Romenseko, the news trade’s online gathering place. (Also at the Huffington Post.)


Romenesko readers, help me out here:

The New York Times trying to “vet” Obama. (On youthful drug use.)

The New York Times trying to “vet” Hillary Clinton. (On the state of her marriage.)

The New York Times trying to “vet” John McCain. (On cozy ties with lobbyists.)

Each story went weirdly wrong. Each story left people scratching their heads: what were the editors thinking? Each was part of the “vetting” ritual in which the press imagines itself asking the hard questions of candidates who would be president. Each has a touch of the bizarre to it.

My question to you: what is going on here? Anything in common among the cases?

It’s just a question. I’ll post any good answers I find.

For that see my follow-up, “An Attractively Against-the-Grain Enterprise…”

And also: Public Editor to Bill Keller: “You Haven’t Got it.” and Cliff Notes Version of the Q and A with New York Times Readers About the McCain Investigation (both Feb. 25, 2008.)

Posted by Jay Rosen at February 28, 2008 1:47 PM