Retract This, Please, Part 2

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Sept. 18 2001 4:42 PM

Retract This, Please, Part 2

In times of national emergency, people can get excited and say or write stupid things. The present crisis being no exception, Chatterbox will keep a running count of these gasp-inducing statements and reprint them under the heading, "Retract This, Please." Please note: lies are not what this feature is looking for. Outright falsehoods will continue to run not here, but under Chatterbox's "Whopper of the Week" rubric. Rather, Chatterbox is looking for statements that any sensible person would regret.

Advertisement

A few readers have pointed out that Slate itself blundered badly last week in its "Breakfast Table" feature with this baseless and fairly loony semi-accusation by John Lahr:

"Perhaps it's eerie serendipity, perhaps it's my paranoia, but an acid thought keeps plaguing me. Isn't it odd that on the day--the DAY--that the Democrats launched their most blistering attack on 'the absolute lunacy' of Bush's unproven missile-defense system, which 'threatens to pull the trigger on the arms race,' what Sen. Biden calls today in the Guardian, his 'theological' belief in 'rogue nations,' that the rogue nation should suddenly become such a terrifying reality. The fact that I could even think such a thought says more to me about the bankruptcy and moral exhaustion of our leaders even in the face of a disaster where any action, in the current nightmare, will seem like heroism."

For the record, Chatterbox does not believe the Bush administration engineered the suicide missions against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Lahr's outburst is a reminder that even great Web magazines can, under the pressure of recent events, blurt out ghastly stuff. And now, with all appropriate humility, let us continue.

No. 4

"The normal work rhythm of a morning newspaper is such that the newsroom can seem almost deserted in the morning. ... At the Tribune, that rhythm was replaced Tuesday by one that was uptempo all day long. In a throwback to the thrilling days of the industry's yesteryear, the newspaper published two extra editions. ... The story budget hammered out at an impromptu editors' meeting had called for at least one wire story to supplement those that would be produced by Tribune staff writers. As it turned out, all of the stories were staff-written, a fact that put a grin as wide asIowaon [Managing Editor Jim] O'Shea's face."

--ChicagoTribune "Public Editor" (and former editorial page editor) Don Wycliff, Sept. 13.

Perhaps regretting this comment, Wycliff wrote a follow-up Sept. 16 column emphasizing the sobriety of last week's events. But this second column made no reference to Wycliff's earlier paean to the joys of covering mass killings.

[Update, Sept. 20: Wycliff apologized  for the column today, calling it "wrong footed" and conceding that it was in poor taste.]

No. 5

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Books
Sept. 17 2014 10:36 AM MacArthur Fellow Alison Bechdel Recounts Telling Her Mother About Her Best-Selling Memoir MacArthur Fellow Alison Bechdel recounts telling her mother about her best-selling memoir.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 9:03 AM My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. And Then I Found Myself With Someone Like Dad.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 8:27 AM Only Science Fiction Can Save Us! What sci-fi gets wrong about income inequality.
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 17 2014 10:20 AM White People Are Fine With Laws That Harm Blacks The futility of fighting criminal justice racism with statistics.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.