Thursday, April 14, 2005

Horowitz, Update

In Monday's post I reported on an exchange between Professor Michael Berube and David Horowitz, hosted by Horowitz's online magazine FrontPage. I took a long excerpt from Berube's account of the exchange. It seemed that FrontPage had deleted quite a lot of what Berube had actually written, and then turned around and took Berube to task for not addressing every point Horowitz had made previously in the exchange.

Well, Horowitz has now explained the situation. Here's the correction in its entirety:

In our feature lead last weekend, Bérubé vs. Horowitz: Is the Left in Bed With Terrorists? we ran a debate about between Prof. Michael Bérubé and David Horowitz.

In the final round, when Prof. Berube emailed his final response, he did not put his answer at the bottom of the exchange by his name as is the procedure at Frontpage Symposium. Instead, he inserted his comments in an interlineated format which answered Horowitz's comments point by point and he put his very last paragraph below his name. He did this without flagging his interlineated replies throughout the text or informing the moderator, Jamie Glazov, of what he did. The moderator therefore scrolled down and assumed the final paragraph was Prof. Berube's final answer.

However, clearly it was not Prof. Bérubé's final answer, and we learned this from his recent post on his blog in which he stated that we had cut his replies from the exchange and then criticized him for not giving a more complete answer. We wish, of course, that he had contacted us before launching this attack to ascertain what had gone wrong. Now that we have been apprised of the mistake we will of course post the full text of Prof. Berube's final response -- in its full delineated form -- along with David Horowitz's rejoinder in the next few days.

See the original for links.

In this post Berube seems inlcined to take this correction at face value. However, in the second update to his original post Berube points out the obvious reasons why this explanation does not hold water:

If this is a mix-up, and an honest one, then of course I will withdraw the charge of fraud, and I certainly expect them to withdraw the charge of intellectual laziness. I have to say, though, that I don’t get it. Perhaps the fact that I interlineated my response to David threw them off? But that doesn’t make any sense, for four reasons: one, I’ve interlineated responses to their questions before. I do believe it is standard practice in long e-mail communications that attempt to simulate “dialogue,” after all. Two, they sent me a 3200-word e-mail and I returned to them a 4300-word email. In other words, I added about 1100 words to the exchange, and the return e-mail was quite obviously substantially longer as a result. I’ve gone over the text many times (oy), and I don’t see how someone could think that I’d replied with only a single, snippy, off-topic paragraph. Three, I had no other feasible way to respond to the scope and breadth of David’s remarks except by interlineating. Replying at the very end of all his remarks would have made hash of the exchange (and, in fact, I thought I was doing Mr. Glazov a favor by lining up the various arguments point by point and replying to each one). Four, a full eight days had elapsed between March 25, when Glazov sent me David’s remarks, and April 3, when I sent my reply. During that time, Glazov sent me two prompts (gracious ones), and I assured him I was working on the reply but would need a few days. It doesn’t make sense that I would wait a week in the course of this exchange and then reply to David’s many charges with a single paragraph.

At the same time, it doesn’t make sense that they would pull a stunt that would allow me such a slam-dunk response, either. As I said above, they printed everything written by all parties in the 2003 forum, and whatever else one can say about FrontPage (and there is plenty!), they do not have a history of legerdemain on this order.

If this was an honest mistake then it represents incompetence of a rare order. For that reason, I do not believe this was an honest mistake. As Berube points out, it's not plausible that Glazov could have looked at the lengthy e-mail Berube sent and have come to the conclusion that the final paragraph was the sum total of Berube's response. Before running an article accusing Berube of intellectual laziness for not replying to Horowitz's points, surely they could have taken the elementary precaution of reading the entire e-mail.

And notice that Horowitz is critical of Berube for not contacting him about the mix-up before blogging about it. It seems to me that Horowitz/Glazov might have asked Berube if he really intended a single paragraph to represent his entire reply to Horowitz.

David Horowitz has proven, through his repeated over-the-top, bomb-throwing television appearances, that he never deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt. I don't know what happened here, but I don't find his explanation convincing.


At 11:27 AM, Anonymous tc99mman said...

Describe two or three of Horowitz's more egregious offenses. I am not a devotee of Horowitz. I would really like to know why you consider him to be a reprobate.


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