A Judgment Day Fable by Old Bathos
Jeff Zucker of CNN, Dean Baquet of the New York Times, and Martin Baron of the Washington Post are all killed in a tragic accident at a gathering of leading news executives.
They find themselves standing together before shining heavenly gates and a pleasant young man at a desk greets them. “Hello, I am the senior assistant to the admissions committee, and I am here to guide you through the process. Here is your life record which will be the basis upon which you will be evaluated. Please look it over carefully.” He hands each of them an enormous bound stack of hundreds of pages.
Baron reacts angrily: “The first pages are nothing but false horrible accusations!”
Baquet and Zucker also complain that their records also open with terrible falsehoods.
The young man smiles and says, “No problem.” He takes a fresh stack of paper and an ornate feathered quill pen and writes “Retraction” in large letters on the top of each page, copies and edits each offensive item to a retraction page and then carefully adds the pages to the bottom of each man’s record and rebinds each record with an enormous heavenly stapler.
“You can go in and present your life résumés to the committee now.”
Dean Baquet objects. “But the false horrible stuff is still on the top pages. No one is going to read down to the bottom where you put the retractions.”
“Exactly,” said the assistant. “Best of luck in there.”