Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Journal-Sentinel Hoaxed on Zeidler Op-Ed

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently published (this past Sunday), an op-ed piece titled “A return to the rule of law.” The author was identified as Frank Zeidler, and a note at the bottom of the article said that “Frank Zeidler was mayor of Milwaukee from 1948 to 1960.”

The article is interesting, in that Zeidler, an avowed socialist, condemns judicial activism.

An e-mail correspondent brought it to our attention, but when we tried to find it on the Journal-Sentinel web site, the page turned up missing.

Our e-mails and phone calls to the Journal-Sentinel went unanswered, and so we called Mayor Zeidler. He knew about the article, and stated flatly that “I didn’t write that.” He further noted that the Journal-Sentinel has yet to admit that the op-ed was a hoax.

It is common, but certainly not universal practice for newspaper editors to confirm that Op-Ed pieces actually come from the person they purport to come from. The Journal-Sentinel apparently didn’t bother to confirm that this submission came from Zeidler. That’s sloppy.

But what is worse is that the paper, which clearly learned that the opinion column was forged, since they took it offline, has not bothered to publicly admit that they goofed.

The media pride themselves on revealing “cover-ups” in business and government. But they are just as willing as any other sector of society to cover up their blunders and misdeeds.

[Update: Charlie Sykes e-mailed the publisher, who sent this return message:
Charlie: We were made aware of this situation yesterday - and we’re preparing a full explanation of what happened and why for tomorrow’s paper. - Betsy Brenner
It’s good the paper is going to explain this, but odd that they are taking two days to do so. They knew and took the article offline yesterday, but failed to issue any correction or explanation. Indeed, as of this moment their web page lists the Zeidler article (scroll down to “More Commentary”), although the link doesn’t work.]


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