reporting 101

There’s a kind of news story that drives me nuts, and has for decades. It’s hard to describe briefly, but . . . It’s the kind of story that raises for the reader certain extremely obvious questions to which the author of the story seems completely oblivious. Here’s an example, from a Daniel Gross report on Slate about the Davos meetings:

The big news from last night? A well-attended forum on the Middle East, featuring Shimon Peres of Israel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ended in a storm of controversy. Erdogan left the stage in a fit of pique, arguing that Peres’ impassioned defense of Israel’s Gaza offensive — at one point, he asked Erdogan how Turkey would respond if it were attacked in a similar manner — was “in a manner not in line with … the spirit of Davos.” He was also angered that moderator David Ignatius of the Washington Post had tried to keep him within prescribed time limits, while Peres had spoken at length. Erdogan said he’d never return. Two things: First, Turkey and Israel are supposed to be allies. Second, droning on beyond allotted time frames isn’t rude at Davos. It’s a sign of a Davos Man’s virility. That’s what people do here. They talk — a lot and at length. If people angered by the inadequate speaking time allotted them and the overgenerous speaking time allotted rivals were to start boycotting the World Economic Forum en masse, next year’s edition could safely be held in the Club Hotel’s bar.

Okay, so: did Ignatius cut Erdogan off and allow Peres to talk “a lot and at length”? Gross is so busy snarking about “Davos Man” and making the completely irrelevant observation that “Turkey and Israel are supposed to be allies” that he forgets even to think about this. If Erdogan’s charge against Ignatius is accurate, then maybe he had a good reason for walking out; and if not, then that tells us something about him, doesn’t it? Does Gross think it legitimate for a moderator to assign speakers time to speak according to his own personal preference? Or what?

Come on, Daniel, do some reporting, would ya?