Nonqoute of the Moment: What Ben Bradlee did NOT say

July 27, 2007

My respect for Fred Gielow rose when I found this on-line erratum notice, correcting a vicious misquoting of former Newsweek columnist and Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee.

This is one way a responsible author corrects a misquoting of someone, particularly one that puts words in the person’s mouth that convey a message opposite to the message they delivered:


I have been advised by the assistant counsel at The Washington Post that Mr. Benjamin C. Bradlee, vice-president at-large of The Washington Post, never made the statement attributed to him on page 117 of my book, You Don’t Say. The principal source of that quotation is the book Trashing the Planet, by Dixy Lee Ray with Lou Guzzo, Regnery Gateway, 1990, page 76. The assistant counsel states the quote is a fabrication.

The assistant counsel tells me Mr. Bradlee says he was discussing a matter at an environmental conference with fellow panelists and had no problem with what the panelists were saying, but he warned that there was

“a minor danger in saying it, because as soon as you say, ‘To hell with the news, I’m no longer interested in the news, I’m interested in causes,’ you’ve got a whole kooky constituency to respond to, which you can waste a lot of time on.”

That statement is indeed significantly different in meaning from the statement I quoted from Trashing the Planet, which said,

“To hell with the news. I’m no longer interested in the news. I’m interested in causes. We don’t print the truth. We don’t pretend to print the truth . . .”

Inasmuch as Trashing the Planet cites as a reference for its quotation an article by David Brooks in the October 5, 1989 Wall Street Journal, and inasmuch as I now find that Wall Street Journal article contains wording wholly consistent with the first quotation (above), not the second, I’m led to believe the second quotation is in error. This is a difficult conclusion for me to reach because I greatly respect Dixy Lee Ray and Regnery Gateway, and I have great confidence in their integrity.

Nevertheless, I must now apologize to Mr. Bradlee and I must apologize to all readers of my book who have depended on the correctness of the quote I obtained from Trashing the Planet. As I have stated to the assistant counsel, I’m interested only in the truth. When it can be shown that I have relied on information or a quotation that is shown to be incorrect or improper, I am anxious to correct the record.

Once again, let my extend my most sincere and genuine apologies to Mr. Bradlee. It was never my intention to attribute to him something he did not say. I know how painful it is to be accused of something you did not do or say. I would not wish that pain on anyone. And to demonstrate my desire to disseminate this information to set the record straight, I will post this message on my website for an indefinite period of time and will highlight access to it.

Fred Gielow_____________________________[end quote from Gielow]

Mr. Gielow’s faith in the Regnery publishing house is misplaced, in my experience.

Now, perhaps Mr. Gielow will correct his misquoting of Charles Wurster at his website. [Update, 7-29-2007:  Mr. Gielow responds by e-mail that he will check out the citations of the Wurster misquote.  Good news.]

Flag displays, and worship

July 27, 2007

See controversy here. The post below comes from the blog of the Dallas Morning News on religion, completely, from a post by religion writer Sam Hodges:

Should church sanctuaries display the U.S. flag?


It’s a subject that’s generating heat within United Methodist circles. Here’s one pastor’s view, in a piece put out by the UMC News Service.

A UMNS Commentary
By the Rev. Clayton Childers*

As a staff member at the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, I am frequently asked questions that require me to go where “angels fear to tread.” Questions about displaying national flags in the church’s sanctuary take us into that treacherous terrain.

Many United Methodist churches maintain a tradition of placing the United States flag in the sanctuary, by the altar, within the chancel, or at another prominent location on the church grounds. I heard of one case in which the U.S. flag actually covered the altar itself. So we must ask: Is this an appropriate use of the national flag from both a Christian and United Methodist perspective?

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