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That's a fact?

Randy Barnett gives Den Beste much stroke over at the Volokh Conspiracy. While I think Den Beste is skimming over some issues, I must credit him with linking to someone who refutes him nicely. So no picking on Den Beste today.

Nah. Let’s quote Barnett instead. The emphasis is his.

Funny, how you have to read blogs or websites like NRO to learn ANYTHING about what is or may be really going on. The news media is hopeless. Bias to one side, you simply cannot be informed by reading or listening to the mainstream press.

So, ah, where did Randy think Den Beste got his facts? I mean, Den Beste doesn’t actually have any sources that are denied to the rest of us; he learned what he knows about the current state of North Korean diplomacy by reading the BBC and ABC News, just like you and I. You can tell, because he links to their sites to establish his facts. He then analyzes those facts and presents his conclusions.

Randy, in his enthusiasm, confuses “being informed” with “accepting someone else’s conclusions.” This is dangerous. We have, in this era of the Internet, more sources of information available to us than ever before. Many of them are false. It’s vital that we learn to assess primary sources for ourselves; it’s vital that we learn to reach our own conclusions.

Den Beste is not running a news site, nor does he claim to be. He’s running an opinion site. We shouldn’t confuse the two. Read his opinions, by all means — but then go to the same sources he uses, and others, and decide for yourself if his conclusions match yours. Simply reading an opinion, or even many opinions, does not cause one to be informed.

Update: Hi to everyone who dropped by from USS Clueless, and thanks for visiting. Be warned that I tend more to the left than the right, but don’t assume that makes me a Democrat.


  1. Thanks (and thanks to all those who drop by for visiting).

  2. GT GT

    Yes, quite good. I think Den Beste may be too optimistioc (time will tell) but Barnett’d point borders on the ludicrous.

  3. Exactly what every blog-reader should remember Bryant. And the same goes to readers of any major news source. Editorials, even “news reports” are biased in some way or another.

  4. Exactly, Lucas. I think a lot of the value of blogs is exposure to different biases — you won’t see opinions like Den Beste’s on the evening news. Nor will you see opinions like those found on Daily Kos. There’s a reason both Cold Fury and Calpundit are on my blogroll.

  5. While RB overstates the case, he does point to a real problem with how the news media operates – since old stuff is by definition not news, you only get the latest development reported, with perhaps the penultimate development briefly mentioned. Broadcast news is the worst for this, and the web does the best job, with a lot of sites providing links back to previous reporting which does allow you to see a full history. Traditional news media typically doesn’t give you the full story at one time – regardless of any bias and accuracy problems.

    And while the opinion writers in theory give you the full story in order to support their conclusions, rarely do any of them (left, right, or center) do so as they cheerfully omit any facts that might contradict their conclusions. I think bloggers not only do a better job at providing a full picture, the medium helps, just as it does for web based news reporting. Comments, links, trackbacks, all combine to give a fuller picture.

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