Opinion: Media Mangle

Did cost-cutting N&O drop its internet connection?

How else did they miss the news that Palin was right about Paul Revere?

I know things are tough with newspapers these days, and especially with McClatchy, but someone ought to take up a collection and get the News & Observer‘s editorial page staff hooked up to the interweb tubes.

I say that because Jim Jenkins, longtime curmudgeonly editoral writer and columnist, penned a column today that apparently was written without a key bit of news that would have caused him to trash his original idea, which was to trash Sarah Palin.

In the column, Jenkins jumped on Palin for saying in a June 2 interview that one of Paul Revere’s aims on his famous ride in 1775 was to warn the British that the American colonists weren’t to be messed with, that they had arms and were willing to use them. The lefty blogs and lefty MSM pounced, dredging up their grade-school knowledge of Paul Revere and pronouncing Palin a dunce.

Here’s the way lefties transcribe what Palin said (imagine if the media put all the uhs and ahs in one of Obama’s extemporaneous comments):

“He who warned uh, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh by ringing those bells, and um, makin’ sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed.”

Numerous outlets ran mocking stories about this right after it happened. Just Google “Sarah Palin and Paul Revere” to see how many jumped on the har-har bandwagon.

A week later, Jenkins penned his spoof, titling it “Prof. Palin’s revised history.” Here’s some of what he said:

In a preview of what’s yet to come as she makes a decision on whether to declare her candidacy for president, Palin took on the role of professor recently in asserting that Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride was intended to warn not just Americans that it was “go-time,” but also to alert the British. This caused a little hub-bub, because according to allegedly esteemed historians, that was not exactly the case, but here again, leave it to the media to blow things out of proportion.

Chris Wallace of Fox News even went so far as to tell Palin that she “messed up” on Paul Revere, and she took it right back at him, standing by her earlier claims. Good for you, Briefly Gov. Palin! It must have been a shocker, because Chris Wallace, you know, is supposed to be one of ours! Hey Chris, you gone Katie Couric on us or something?

Jenkins went on painfully to string out his joke, making up several examples of botched history that he imagined Palin might inflict on a wincing public.

But something happened between June 2 and June 9, when Jenkins’ column appeared. It turns out that several historians jumped into the fray and declared her correct, and put a dunce cap on people like Jenkins, whose only knowledge of Paul Revere’s ride seemingly comes from a Longfellow poem.

For instance, NPR, no doubt anxious to get an academic to ridicule Palin, called upon Robert Allison, a professor and historian at Suffolk University. Was Palin correct, asked the gleeful NPR host, or the idiot that we know she is? Here’s part of Allison’s response, which sounds eerily close to what Palin said, minus the “uhs” included by lefty bloggers:

Revere isn’t trying to alert the British, but he is trying to warn them. And in April of 1775, no one was talking about independence. We’re still part of the British Empire. We’re trying to save it. So this is a warning to the British Empire what will happen if you provoke Americans.

And he added:

She was making a Second Amendment case. But in fact, the British were going out to Concord to seize colonists’ arms, the weapons that the Massachusetts Provincial Congress was stockpiling there.

So, yeah, she is right in that. I mean, she may be pushing it too far to say this is a Second Amendment case. Of course, neither the Second Amendment nor the Constitution was in anyone’s mind at the time. But the British objective was to get the arms that were stockpiled in Concord.

The NPR host asks, “So you think basically, on the whole, Sarah Palin got her history right.”

Allison responds: “Well, yeah, she did.”

Allison wasn’t the only one who supported Palin’s account of Revere’s ride. If you read any kind of political blogs, there would be no way to escape this development.

I can only conclude that, as part of their cost-cutting efforts, the N&O has cut the internet connection to its editorial offices.

By the way, I’m still waiting for the Jenkins column that ridicules Obama’s contention that there are 57 American states.

Jon Ham is vice president of the John Locke Foundation and publisher of its newspaper, Carolina Journal.