Saturday, June 16, 2007

Reviewing Political Books Is Not For The Fair-Minded

Deborah Howell, the ombudsman for the Washington Post, addresses the controversy over the review of Al Gore's book in the Post that said amongst other things that Gore didn't use footnotes, and didn't document his sources. It turns out that Gore used endnotes including for the quotations the reviewer questioned. Oops. Nice reading and editing job.

The problem here was Weekly Standard conservative partisan hack Andrew Ferguson was the person reviewing the book. In the golden age that David Broder pines for, but really never existed, perhaps a fair review of a book from a radically different ideological book would be presented fair and nuanced.

We don't live in such an age now. It would be like Michael Moore being granted the honor of reviewing Newt Gingrich's latest tome. It just isn't useful to readers. Ferguson doesn't want to honestly engage his ideological foe. The whole point is to find anything, even if it doesn't exist, to trash the work.

Perhaps an iconoclast from the same ideological bent should be used to review books in the political field. Have somebody like Howard Phillips reviewing books by conservatives, Gore Vidal for leftists. It would make the reviews not any less critical, but more fair, and likely more interesting.