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Thursday, December 23, 2010
When Will NewsBusters Apologize to Nina Totenberg?
Topic: NewsBusters

On Dec. 20, Brent Baker wrote a NewsBusters post attacking NPR's Nine Totenberg for saying on a TV show, "I was at – forgive the expression – a Christmas party at the Department of Justice." Baker declared that she was "seemingly embarrassed to invoke any religious terminology for Christmas," adding: "She didn’t say what she’d prefer for parties this time of the year to be named. 'Winter solstice party'? Just plain old 'holiday party'? Or a 'seasonal gathering'?"

There's much more to this story that Baker didn't report. The Washington Post, unlike Baker, actually sought an explanation from Totenberg for the remark, noting that "Conservative bloggers jumped all over Totenberg, accusing her of a liberal, politically-correct agenda." It turns out she wasn't dissing Christianity at all:

Then we reached Totenberg herself during her "Christmas vacation" (her term) in Jamaica. Turns out her critics got it completely wrong: She was, she says, defending Christmas. The DOJ celebration was officially dubbed a "holiday" party, and she was gently mocking that generic designation. "I think that's kind of silly because it's obviously a Christmas party," she told us. "I was tweaking the Department of Justice. It was a touch of irony at the expense of the Justice department, not at the expense of Christmas."

As for the bloggers who were so quick to judge -- without bothering to ask her what she meant: "Jeesh, these folks need a life -- and perhaps a touch of the Christmas spirit, as well."

The Post story has been out for more than a day. MRC employee Kevin Eder even linked to it in a Twitter post, if only to highlight that it "links to at least three MRC websites," so they must be aware of it. Yet Baker nor anyone else at NewsBusters or the MRC has seen fit to acknowledge its contents, let alone apologize to Totenberg for blowing her comment out of proportion without bothering to find out the story behind it.

It's time for Baker to exhibit a little Christmas spirit and admit his error.

UPDATE: Baker, it appears, is not in an apologizing mood. In a new NewsBusters post, he highlights how Fox News promoted his earlier attack, and only then did he acknowledge the Post's reporting. He sneered that the Post "lamely" noted how much Totenberg loves Christmas.

Self-promotion before a very weak tacit acknowledgement that he was wrong -- nice Christmas spirit you have there, Brent.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:23 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, December 23, 2010 2:39 PM EST

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