Wanna Hear Something Stupid?

Ask a "journalist" to talk about "journalism" and watch nominally educated people spew nonsense, like in this report from Politico about the firing of a reporter by the Associated Press.

Bob Lewis Firing Stuns Virginia Media World

We rely on reporters to tell us what is going on in the world. That's their job: we look at advertisements in exchange for useful information.

So, if you fail miserably at the task of providing useful information you get fired, like Bob Lewis, who wrote a whole lot of untrue things about a candidate for governor of Virginia, indicating his participation in a financial fraud scheme involving illegal death benefits. What's wrong with firing someone who fails at their job?

A lot, says NYT White House correspondent Michael Shear, "[T]his is not plagiarism, this is not fabrication, this is not some malicious thing. This is a mistake."

So, failing at your job is not a firing offense if it is not "malicious"? You can write an article full of falsehoods, as long as it isn't a "fabrication", that is, plain make-believe?

Oh wait. Don't forget, actually succeeding at your job can also be a firing offense if you present the facts in between the same sequence of prepositions and conjunctions used by another reporter ("plagiarism").

Another local yahoo, Amy Gardener of the WaPo, puts it this way:

He made a mistake, but he admitted it. There are certain things where we shouldn’t have tolerance — cheating, lying, plagiarism infractions — but a mistake is a different beast from a lie or a stolen bit of work. At what point does a mistake become a non negotiable or fireable offense?

Does context matter at all? The "mistake" at issue was a completely incorrect article describing the a candidate for governor as a liar involved with a felony fraud involving unknowing terminally ill patients. 

So if I make a mistake and run a red light that's ok? What if I kill a pedestrian? I'm willing to admit it was a mistake! Please?