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January 09, 2010

Hillary Mann Leverett Pwns Jeffrey Goldberg

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“It’s one of the mysteries of the blogosphere, why more people don’t simply pick up the phone once in a while,” wrote Jeffrey Goldberg in his 2008 “introduction to blogging,” smugly capturing 2003-vintage conventional wisdom. And yet, just yesterday, Goldberg had better things to do than call Hillary Mann Leverett — like writing an obnoxious post pointing out that she used to take a more jaundiced look at Iran than she presently does. Now, we in the professional journalism business think that’s the basis for, like, calling someone up and asking her to explain the disparity. Instead, Goldberg is more interested in clucking like a teenage girl that Leverett and her husband Flynt are “the Salahis of foreign policy punditry,” which surely impressed Maureen Dowd and no one else.

Myself, I’m pretty disturbed by what the Leveretts have been writing about Iran lately, particularly the degree to which they portray the Green Movement as a marginal phenomenon. I don’t pretend to know more than they do about Iran, but I’ve heard horror stories about journalists in 1978 writing articles headlined “The Shah’s Well-Run Kingdom” and my coverage of the Greensthose bloggers, never finding cumbersome technological procedures to evade the regime’s communications firewalls and speak directly to Iranian dissidents – has me convinced that the movement has true potency.

But I also believe in basic fairness. And so a smile crosses my face when Leverett calmly and diligently dismantles Goldberg’s juvenile post.

My current views on U.S. policy reflect, I believe, thatI have learned from professional experience and am capable of adapting my policy views in light of a more accurate understanding of reality.  I would hope that Mr. Goldberg—who, in 2002, was peddling what turned out to be utterly inaccurate reports about Saddam Husayn’s ties to Al-Qa’ida and his possession of weapons of mass destruction—is able to do the same.

It’s not the first time Goldberg has embarrassed himself by casting aspersions on people without bothering to contact them. He did the same thing with Trita Parsi, who he idiotically confused with a regime apologist. It’s rather odd for someone to misunderstand the blogosphere as a place where reporting is rare; chastise it for that imagined problem; and then emulate precisely what he criticizes. But people who are rewarded by major magazines after committing gross professional negligence have no reason to learn from their mistakes.


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