May 31, 2003

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH GOES TO THE TRANSCRIPT on a Paul Wolfowitz interview that has gotten some attention, and discovers that — surprise! — there’s journalistic spinning going on again.

This whole online-transcript thing is very revealing. And what it reveals about journalism isn’t that pretty.

UPDATE: More fact-checking. Unfogged has read the transcript, too, and says:

I just read the transcript of the entire interview and, although I’m as happy as the next guy to see this administration come to grief, I have to say that Wolfowitz doesn’t say what’s being alleged, and in fact seems rather honest about the deliberations leading to war.

So which version will we hear on the Sunday talk shows? The one reflected in the transcripts, or the one in the misleading press accounts? Unfogged adds:

Two final points. I haven’t read the Vanity Fair piece, but based on this interview, I have to say that Sam Tannenhaus does a fantastic job. Read the entire transcript and you can see that this is a guy who’s really done his homework, asks smart questions and then gets out of the way of the answer. This is a peculiar firestorm in that the original journalist seems to have done a fine job but the coverage of the coverage still manages to be careless.

Finally, there’s been plenty of debate about neo-conservative Straussians running the government. But Wolfowitz gives a fascinating account of his filial and academic lineage and puts paid to any notions of “Straussians” running the government. (Do read the whole thing.)

Yes, do. Here’s the transcript link. As I said earlier, this business of posting online transcripts is really going to do a lot to keep people honest. Now if we just had PunditWatch back, to keep the talk shows honest!

ANOTHER UPDATE: This story has hit the news, (it’s addressed here, too). Excerpt from the second:

What gives with this Vanity Fair interview, then?

What gives is that Tanenhaus has mischaracterized Wolfowitz’s remarks, that Vanity Fair’s publicists have mischaracterized Tanenhaus’s mischaracterization, and that Bush administration critics are now indulging in an orgy of righteous indignation that is dishonest in triplicate.

But fact-checked, on the Internet.