NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen was paired with Christopher Hitchens on the BBC’s Today programme this morning to talk about the Newsweek brouhaha. (RealAudio)

Hitchens — fresh from being called a “drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay” by George Galloway — defended Newsweek’s journalism on the grounds that it’s not journalists’ job to act as stenographers for government reports.

Without directly endorsing the comment, Hitchens also noted that the American right was convinced that this case was evidence of “a propagandistic agenda on the part of the liberal media” to undermine the American war effort.

But when Rosen interrupted to reject this as part of “an ideologicial agenda to discredit and decertify the press” by the American right, Hitchens replied this way:

I think that a story with such — as we now know — scant basis to it would be much less likely to appear if it made the adminstration look good. I do think that. I can’t tell you how I know it; I read the press with great attention, I think I know when a reporter is slightly nudging me in one direction or another.

Hitch says, so it must be true. Rosen has more on Newsweek’s error at his blog, PressThink.

Update: Rosen’s take on the Today exchange is now up on Press Think.