'Page Two' 'Not Acceptable!'

RECEIVED Fri., July 15, 2005

Dear Editor,
    As a longtime reader of the Chronicle I am terribly disappointed with this week's “Page Two” editorial [July 15]. I have long appreciated Louis Black's taking of stands that sometimes straddle left/right expectations, and I realize that overall identifying more toward the left makes him more free in the criticisms that he directs that way. But none of this excuses the intentional misrepresentation of reality by suggesting, in the strongest possible way, that people who are pushing for coverage of the Downing Street Memo are all conspiracy theorist who believe, and are trying to prove that “the Bush administration's supposedly blowing up the towers on 9/11.” Many people feel that it would be of some relevance to "only" prove that the president of the United States lied to the U.S. public about his reasons for going to war, and about when he had in fact made that decision (and had his wife lie about it to the public as well). This intentional use of misleading and inflammatory language to degrade opponents is something that does not surprise me from politicians. But it is not acceptable from a professional journalist who is claiming to have any credibility on any issue at all. You can claim truly enough that you are being restrained compared to the attacks that you receive, but the fact is you have chosen to take on a public role as an newspaper editor, and as such it is reasonable to expect you to live up to basic standards of honesty and truth, that is not demanded of letter-writers. And the fact the you also exploit your position to engage in personal attack, no matter how provoked, is never acceptable. Your position is a public trust, whether or not you want it to be, and this kind of vengeful use of it is an abuse.
Sincerely,
Michael Hannon
   [Louis Black responds: In a paragraph offering examples of some of the questions/attacks the Chronicle gets on certain national and international issues we don't cover in depth if at all was this sentence, "Why isn't the Downing Street Memo the only topic we cover since it is that important?" I should have made it clearer that I was not dismissing the importance of the Downing Street Memo but simply those who chastised us for covering anything else or because they say we've never even mentioned the memo in the Chronicle. The Chronicle, in fact, has written about the memo and it has been referred to many times in our "Postmarks" section. Although newspaper and network television have perhaps not given the Downing Street Memo the coverage they could; magazines, alternative media, the foreign press, and radio have been all over it as have many Web sites with the main one clocking in as among the most heavily trafficked on the Net. The news is out there, new information is still being uncovered. The Chronicle is extraordinarily interested, if not overly optimistic, as to how this will play out. Therefore I apologize to anyone who thought I was damning any and all interest in the Downing Street Memo. I wasn't; I share that interest. But to those who want to know why the Chronicle isn't all over this I have to ask, "What do we bring to the table and what impact would that have?" This paper has been against this tragically inane war since the beginning. Any additional reporting we do on the Downing Street Memo would be as smoke to the wind. We have one of the most educated and involved readerships around. They know what is going on. Sure we could join the media hordes in obsessing on the memo but outside of making some of our readers feel satisfied, what's the good? As to the assaults on my integrity, professionalism, ethics, sense of fairness, respect, and careful use of my position, I plead guilty to all and any charges adding that the letter-writer didn't cover the half of it. But at least I've always been public about what a jerk I am, haven't I?]
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