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Re: “Gazette's un-funny editorialist

My apologies to Mr. Tosches for misspelling his name in my post.

Posted by Editor on 06/02/2008 at 3:25 PM

Re: “Gazette's un-funny editorialist

A more scurrilous example of yellow journalism I've not seen in a long time. Laugesen's reputation as a defender of the weak, poor and oppressed, not to mention Jews and Judaism is beyond reproach. Others have documented Laugesen's long-term support of Judaism quite well, so I won't repeat it, and anyone who has questions has only to search the Web for all the evidence one needs to utterly refute Toches' allegations. I've been Wayne's close friend for more than 15 years now, and I've never seen the smallest iota of evidence that he is anti-semitic. Although I'm not a religious person, and while Wayne and I have many philosophical differences about religion and politics, he is more tolerant and respectful of diversity of belief than any other person I have ever had the pleasure to be acquainted with. This makes the mean-spirited attack by Toches particularly disturbing, but I will try to refrain from stating my personal opinion of Mr. Toches, because one ad hominem attack does not justify another. From the perspective of journalistic ethics, however, Toches' deliberate juxtaposition of the alleged telephone death threats received by Weinstein with the letter sent by Irigonegaray to McKibben, followed by a non-contextual quote from Irigonegaray makes a clear implication that Laugesen was responsible for the alleged criminal telephone death threats. The legal problem with this is that, were Laugesen not a public figure, it would be actionable libel if untrue. The fact that Laugesen is a public figure doesn't reduce the moral repugnance of the lie Toches publishes, unless Toches has proof that Laugesen committed a crime. I seriously doubt he does. Journalistically, the ethical problem is that this serious allegation of criminal wrongdoing is presented without any foundation or factual evidence that Laugesen was in any way involved in the phone call, or that the letter to McKibben related in any way to the specific crime alleged. Toches wants us to believe this is the case, but if he's going to accuse Laugesen of a crime, he needs to present some credible evidence, like, for example, the complete text of the letter sent to McKibben. I suspect that if the Publisher of the Independent does some investigating, he will discover that Toches is guilty of an extremely serious breach of journalistic ethics regarding this letter and the context in which Toches uses it. And that's not the only breach of journalistic ethics Toches commits. Any credible, ethical journalist who is proposing to publish a hatchet-job on someone ought to have the common decency to contact the subject of the piece and give him the opportunity to refute, rebut or at least comment on the pending story. I see nothing in the article indicating that Laugesen was given any opportunity to explain or deny the very serious allegations Toches makes. Toches has plenty of quotes from Weinstein claiming that Laugesen didn't mean what he said when he referred to Israel as a western nuclear superpower, and that he's been "called on it" and has changed his story. However, I see no evidence that Laugesen either made a mistake, was called on it, or changed his story. Toches fails to either document this alleged reversal by Laugesen or obtain a quote from Laugesen about the accusation. That's a breach of journalistic ethics as well. In my long association with Wayne, I have found that he always says exactly what he means. And then there's the guilt-by-association juxtaposition Toches uses, out of a self-evident deep-seated hatred of Libertarianism, implying that Laugesen's window-smashing episode of "commando journalism" is on a par with McVeigh's murder of 168 people in Oklahoma City, merely because McVeigh made reference to Laugesen's incisive article critical of the militarization of our police forces. Toches unethically sets Laugesen up by attempting to demonize him merely because a domestic terrorist nut-job reads newspapers. Please! I encourage the Independent to protect its own reputation and journalistic credibility by thoroughly investigating this matter and telling its readers and advertisers what it finds. I strongly suspect it will find that Toches has breached the trust that the public places in it's journalists, and that he has sullied and demeaned the reputation of the Independent in the eyes of the community. He has certainly done so in my eyes. Scott Weiser Editor Altnews LLC

1 like, 3 dislikes
Posted by Editor on 06/02/2008 at 10:33 AM

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