Try digitalPLUS for 10 days for only $0.99

Readers Respond

News Opinion Readers Respond

Vatz makes a baseless attack

I was almost tempted to admire both the irony — to say nothing of the audacity — of being accused of producing work flawed by "evidentiary problems" in a newspaper column ("Liberal media bias is beyond doubt," March 18) by a professor who cannot be bothered to produce a single scintilla of evidence to support his claim. But since it's my reputation at stake, my amusement was minimal.

For the record, the work to which your guest columnist, Richard E. Vatz, refers: "What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News" (Basic Books, 2003 and 2004), was meticulously fact-checked and contains fully 43 pages of source notes. I do not deny the possibility of error. It's almost impossible to write a work of over 350 pages without them, though I am aware of none that have survived beyond its first printing. I also do not deny the likelihood that many people will disagree with my arguments. That is, after all, what honorable public discourse is all about. But I do deny both Mr. Vatz's and, by extension, The Sun's right to cast aspersions on my scholarship by throwing out casually derogatory accusations without making any attempt to support them.

I hate to sound defensive, but it so happens that The New Yorker magazine, which is considered to be an authority on such matters, noted the "meticulous care with which [Mr. Alterman's] arguments are sourced and footnoted." The Los Angeles Times called the book "well-documented" and "even-tempered." The Columbia Journalism Review said the "research really is excellent." The Orlando Sentinel called the book "thoroughly researched." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel termed it "masterful, painstakingly documented." Publishers Weekly thought it "well-documented" and "well-argued." Providence Journal: "Exhaustively researched." The Boston Review: "Exhaustively researched." I could go on, but my point is not to brag, but merely to point out that Mr. Vatz's opinion is a lonely one, and requires, at the very least, significant supporting evidence to be taken seriously as anything but an ideologically motivated ad-hominem attack.

Such baseless accusations may be the appropriate manner to conduct oneself in the on Fox News or right-wing talk radio, but Sun readers deserve better, and so do I. I look forward to both an apology and a retraction.

Eric Alterman, New York

The writer is a CUNY Distinguished Professor of English and Journalism at Brooklyn College and the author of nine books.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Media not so liberal in Iraq coverage

    Media not so liberal in Iraq coverage

    How ironic that Richard Vatz's column claiming unassailable evidence for liberal bias in the media appears exactly 10 years after the start of our nation's invasion of Iraq ("Liberal bias is beyond doubt," March 18).

  • Vatz is a taxpayer-supported agent of bias

    Vatz is a taxpayer-supported agent of bias

    I do not dispute one word of what your commentator Richard E. Vatz says about bias ("Liberal media bias is beyond doubt," March 18). Moreover, I always enjoy reading what he writes, look forward to more, and also hope he does books.

  • Vatz: I don't discriminate against Democrats

    I believe it was an English preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon (and not Mark Twain, to whom the saying is often attributed), who once said, "A lie travels 'round the world, while truth is putting on her boots."

  • Red Line benefits ignored

    Red Line benefits ignored

    Gov. Larry Hogan's decision to cancel the Red Line light rail project after over 10 years of hard work and $288 million in tax dollars spent was a shocker for sure ("Hogan goes off the tracks," June 25). We have to ask exactly what kind of analysis did he do?

  • Treat Lee and Jackson as veterans

    Treat Lee and Jackson as veterans

    Confederate soldiers are legal veterans under U.S. law, and shouldn't this apply to the statue of Confederate veterans Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson ("Status of Confederate statues to be reviewed in Baltimore," June 30)?

  • Baltimore can pay for its own light rail

    Baltimore can pay for its own light rail

    Since most citizens of Maryland, especially those who do not live in Baltimore, would have to supply the $3 billion for the Red Line, I understand why Gov. Larry Hogan has turned it down ("City leaders remain dedicated to fighting for Red Line," July 1).

Comments
Loading

84°