I’ve been tied up with family business the past few days, so it didn’t immediately register when — out of the corner of my eye — I saw my friend the Outraged Liberal fulminating over something outrageous he’d spotted in yesterday’s Boston Globe.
I backtracked this morning. Sure enough, the Globe ran an op-ed piece by Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was responsible for the terrorist killings of 271 people over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. The Globe now presumes that Gaddafi may instruct us on how best to engage with Russia. Unbelievable.
Mr. O.L. writes that “it would be fascinating to know how this piece wound up in the Globe. No offense, but how many other newspapers rejected it? Who is representing Gaddafi? How much is the author being paid?”
In the New Republic, James Kirchick unloads thusly:
[G]iving shrinking editorial real estate to a dictator so that he may offer his thoughts on a subject that doesn’t even remotely effect the national interests of his country is a new low, not just for the general unseemliness of the exercise, but because of the more traditional and unremarkable concerns of journalistic responsibility. If Gaddafi were willing to write a signed op-ed revealing something new about Lockerbie, it would certainly be newsworthy, and the Globe would have obtained a genuine scoop in publishing it. But the thoughts of the Leader and Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya about Russia are not only irrelevant, they also happen to be just plain unoriginal and uninteresting.
If the Globe still had an ombudsman, perhaps he or she could root around and tell us how this happened. Kirchick seems to think it was a deliberate act, but my own view is that you rarely go wrong in attributing such things to more mundane human frailties — laziness, stupidity or, given the time of year, vacations.
In any case, we deserve an explanation. It will be interesting to see if one is forthcoming.