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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 6, 2006 / 8 Nissan, 5766

Hold that opinion

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | For obvious reasons, journalism places a premium on speed. When news breaks on Tuesday, reporters spring into action, intent on getting the story into the paper on Wednesday — and maybe even online or on the air by Tuesday night.


For reasons that are rather less obvious, opinion journalism — the business not of reporting what happened, but of commenting on it — also tends to place a premium on speed. When that story breaks on Tuesday, members of the pundits' guild spring into action as well. Editorial writers and columnists tell their readers what the news means. TV talking heads and radio pontificators pass judgment. Internet bloggers — the commentariat's newest, increasingly influential players — scramble to weigh in. And the more compelling or startling the news, the more immediate, and often the more adamant, the opinions expressed.


All of this is very democratic and robust; it certainly makes for a noisy and bustling marketplace of ideas. But does it make for a more thoughtful one?


I have always believed that racing to report a story makes a lot more sense than racing to express a point of view about it. No doubt there are some sages who don't need time to reflect — or to wait for more facts, or to see how a story turns out — in order to generate some well-chosen words of genuine wisdom. My own experience is that insight and good judgment don't usually work that way. I find that thought and a bit of distance vastly improve the odds of coming up with something worth saying — and that rushing to tell the world what to think of the latest headlines makes for shallow, half-baked, or unfair commentary.


Case in point: the release of Jill Carroll.


When the Christian Science Monitor reporter was set free in Baghdad last week, she insisted at first that her captors had not harmed her. "I was treated very well; it's important people know that," she said in an interview conducted by the Iraqi Islamic Party, the Sunni organization into whose hands she was released. "They never threatened me in any way."


On the same day, a videotape made before she was freed was posted on the Internet. In it, Carroll denounced the United States and praised the insurgents as "good people fighting an honorable fight." Asked by the interviewer if she has "a message for Mr. Bush," her answer was one-sided and hostile:


"Yeah, he needs to stop this war. He knows this war is wrong. He knows that it was illegal from the very beginning. He knows that it was built on a mountain of lies . . . and he doesn't care about his own people."


To some people hearing this, it was plain that Carroll could only have been speaking under duress. "Jill Carroll forced to make propaganda video as price of freedom," the Monitor headlined its story the next day. Anyone tempted to accuse Carroll of some other motive, cautioned Ellen Knickmeyer of The Washington Post, "should think about what they would do (after) three months with machine guns held to their heads."


But others, in their haste to express an opinion, pronounced Carroll guilty of collaboration.


"May as well just come right out and say she was a willing participant," one conservative blog announced. Declared another: "She was anti-America when she went over there and I say the kidnapping was a put up deal from the get go." The executive producer of a prominent radio/television talk show described Carroll on the air as "the kind of woman who would wear one of those suicide vests. You know, walk into the — try and sneak into the Green Zone . . . . She's like the Taliban Johnny or something."


At a popular site on the left, meanwhile, there was scorn for the "totally inappropriate" assumptions that Carroll's warm words about her captors could be "motivated by anything other than a desire to tell the truth."


Yet one day later, once she was safely out of Iraq, Carroll issued a statement repudiating the "things that I was forced to say while captive." She bitterly labeled the men who kidnapped her and murdered her translator, Alan Enwiya, as "criminals, at best." What she thought of the opinionated prodigies who couldn't wait to climb on their soapboxes and tell the world what to think about her, Carroll didn't say. Perhaps she was being polite. Perhaps, unlike them, she prefers to think before she vents.


With the swelling influence of the Internet and the blogosphere, the pressure to generate instant reaction is only going to grow more intense. Dozens of traditional news outlets, for example, now maintain blogs of their own. But it is an unhealthy impulse, and commentators — in every medium — should resist it. First impressions are not the same as thoughtful commentary. It's nice to be first. It's better to be right.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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