Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Sun" issues rare retraction for Soros slander

There was a time when newspapers never printed retractions.    This was for one of two reasons:   One, the owners had definite political leanings and to admit even the slightest error (even when yellow journalism had been engaged in) would be tantamount to admitting the publisher's philosophy was wrong, eg. William Randolph Hearst.   Two, the reporters actually did fact checking through multiple sources to ensure there was no error -- even having in house lawyers do a double check, eg. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein during Watergate (and even when they briefly fouled up on one attribution in their series of stories, they quickly found another reliable source that backed up the underlying point of that article).

When I briefly worked for a newspaper (not reporting, it was another department) we were taken to the actual newsroom and were introduced both to the cartoonist (who did a very good publishable caricature of Jean Chrétien in less than two minutes) as well as the counsel who told us the paper had recently had to settle with a disgruntled subject for a million and a half because of a missing comma that completely changed the meaning of the story.

So it was a bit satisfying to read today that Quebecor Media Inc. (aka the "Sun" newspapers) has issued an apology to George Soros the Hungarian-born and now American citizen currency speculator and liberal activist.   Soros became infamous when he successfully and single-handedly devalued the pound sterling in 1992 ensuring the UK would not enter the Euro for a very long time to come.

Back on September 5, Ezra Levant wrote a column about Soros that suggested that he survived being exterminated in the Holocaust by collaborating with the Nazis.   Not only inflammatory but outrageously false especially based on a cleverly re-edited interview that Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes did with Soros some years ago.   QMI claims they offered a written apology to Soros' lawyer as early as September 13th in an attempt to head off a lawsuit, but the negotiations have gone nowhere.

Unfortunately, a pre-emptive strike like this, and wiping the Suns and Mr. Levant's websites of the column is insufficient.   It was in print, and the damage has been done.    Soros deserves more than an apology.   He is entitled to every penny a libel suit might draw.

I don't like currency speculators (and personally support the idea of a "Tobin tax" -- having a service charge on currency transactions to deter deliberate manipulation of one currency against another; oddly Soros actually does support the idea in principle).    But no matter how low one's business morals may be, being besmirched as a "Nazi collaborator" when one wasn't is the worst insult of all.    When we are still hunting down the last surviving participants in the worst slaughter in human history, to be falsely called one of them is unspeakable.

No one, Jewish, Christian or "other" needs to be reminded of the command not to bear false witness against one's neighbour -- and neighbour does mean everyone as dozens of giants from Moses to Billy Graham have constantly pointed out.

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