Publishing Edward S. Herman


(It is with great sadness that we publish news of the death of Edward Herman on November 11, 2017. His articles on media, the economy, foreign policy, Doublespeak (and my favorite, “Nuggets from the Nuthouse”), have appeared in almost every monthly issue of Z magazine from his first article in Volume 1, 1988 to his last in Volume 30, 2017.

Over the years we established a publishing routine. I would get an email from Ed telling me he, “had something interesting for the next issue, I think you’ll like it,” followed by, “what’s my deadline?” I’d email him the deadline and he would email back that he could make the deadline (he always did) and he would add: “Let me know if you decide to use it.” Was he kidding? We were already proofing it and locating some graphics.

This exchange was repeated every month until September 29, when he emailed the following at around 5:59 PM: “Lydia, I haven’t been well and won’t be putting out an article this month. I’ll let you know in the future if I am able to get back in business.” He signed off in the usual way–old comrade, ed herman

A few days later I got the news—he won’t be emailing to “get his deadline or sending his articles anymore..

In any case, we had the privilege of publishing Edward Herman’s articles for 30 years. In his memory we are publishing excerpts from Ed’s second Z article titled“ Moderates and Extremists” which appeared in the March 1988 issue of Z. hopefully other reprints will follow. Thank you, ed, from your old comrades at Z. EDITORS, Z magazine)

Moderates and Extremists

Whenever I run into the words “moderate” and extremist” in a news article, my first reaction is contempt for an author who will use such vague and emotive language. My second reaction is to alert myself for the bias that the author is about to display. He/she is going to identify the good guys, bad guys, and political presumptions and framework of the news report or commentary. By definition, extremists “go too far” and moderates are “within reasonable limits, not excessive or extreme.” (American Heritage Dictionary) That is, the dictionary itself says the words are judgmental, involving a value statement and rating. This would seem to suggest that this usage is incompatible with “objective” news.

The reconciliation with “objectivity” is based on the assumption that the words refer to positions on a political spectrum, with moderates in the middle representing consensus views of wide acceptability and extremists at the outer ends of the spectrum expressing unacceptable news. There are several problems with this line of argument. One is that the words are still value loaded. They don’t merely indicate a position on the political spectrum. Moderate implies reasonableness; extremist unreasonableness, in some substantive sense, not merely positions in a lineup. For this reason alone the words violate rules of objectivity and their use in news reporting testifies to writer incompetence and/or bias.

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