During the event, Professor John Miller of Ryerson slagged Mark Steyn as a mere ‘polemicist’ and not a responsible journalist. As an example, he used Mark’s quoting of Ayatollah Khomeini from (he said) the now infamous Macleans article. Looks like he’s been trusting the citations of the SockPuppets, because as Steyn himself notes, it’s actually from the Maclean’s article ‘Celebrate tolerance, or you’re dead‘.
Miller asserted that after a thorough Internet search, he found the Khomeini quote only in one comment on one [echh, ptui] blog.
Meanwhile, Ezra was surfing online, and interrupted a minute later to point out he’d just then Googled 100+ references to the quote in question, including one from the eminently liberal Harper’s Magazine, 1985. Public pantsing accomplished.
The point isn’t the fact that Ezra scored a point, but that the new media mindset is different. “Fact? Fact-check. Don’t take old media or other political speech as taken for granted. Dig around; check the sources.” In leading up to this presentation– for which Dr. Miller and others presumably had week and weeks to prepare, why didn’t a journalism professor know how to Google and fact-check on the internet?
Well, because this is the same John Miller, Journalism Professor(tm) we make fun of in The Tyranny of Nice, who complained on an industry blog that Mark Steyn wasn’t arguing “in food [sic] faith” — and who let the typo stand for days, even after I pointed it out in the comments, then mocked him mercilessly at this blog (which, btw, has thousands more readers than his does…)
Steyn himself comments upon Miller’s stubborn dim-itude:
Still, John Miller is quite right. I’m not a “journalist” and have never described myself as one. And, when I give speeches or appear on TV or radio and the organizers or producers send us the biographical intro in advance, my trusty assistants always insist on the removal of the word “journalist”.
This used to be purely for truth-in-advertising reasons – I wouldn’t want audiences to get the false impression that I’d passed rigorous tests and acquired a diploma signed by Professor Miller.
But lately it’s been for a more basic reason. I had lunch with Ken Whyte, my publisher at Maclean’s, the other day, and mentioned en passant that one consequence of a year’s worth of thought-police investigations was that it was no longer possible to avoid the painful truth that, for a profession that congratulates itself incessantly on its courage, bravery, fearlessness, etc (far more than, say, firefighters do) and hands out awards all year long for “speaking truth to power”, most journalists are total pussies happy to suck up to state power as long as it’s in PC clothing. Professor Miller, a J-school ethics bore boldly campaigning for the right of government bureaucrats to censor writers, would seem to be an almost parodic example of the phenomenon.