Why is Journalist Marc Ambinder Apologizing for Hurting the Feelings of a Government Agency?
Marc Ambinder, The Week's editor-at-large, is apologizing for a POLITICO Magazine article he wrote about the Secret Service in an essay published on Friday.
Ambinder wrote that his article, which looked into the problems with substance abuse within the Secret Service, "unfairly maligned" the agency.
Earlier this month, two Secret Service agents reportedly bumped some kind of plastic traffic barrel while driving onto White House grounds in the midst of an security incident investigating a suspicious package. The first reports cited the incident as a car crash caused by agents, who some said, had been drinking at a party, but later reports put a much milder gloss on the incident.
On Thursday, Secret Service director Joseph Clancy said the agents were driving "one to two miles per hour" and barely grazed an orange traffic barrel. The incident has been referred to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General for further investigation.
What is disturbing here is that this wasn't a deep investigative piece that got a lot of facts wrong. Ambinder is apologizing for saying something offensive and his wording of the apology borders on creepy if you're a First Amendment fan:
In his essay for The Week, Ambinder wrote that he's "embarrassed' that he suggested the incident "smacks of the behavior of 'high function alcoholics."
"I had no right to say that, at all," he wrote.
I am fairly certain that we all have the right to be offensive. Ambinder didn't go after the agents themselves, but the agency, an agency that has had no shortage of embarrassments in recent years, by the way.
It does nothing to dispel the idea that the media are functioning as publicity arms of the government now that we media bias watchers worry about. The press in this country was supposed to be a fierce opposition voice to the powers that be and and watching it act like a whipped puppy and talking about not having a right to offend is a bit un-American.
If that offends anyone don't bother asking me for an apology.