Saturday, March 26, 2011

New York Times News

First up, Bill Keller:

Has anyone actually seen James O’Keefe and Julian Assange together? Are we quite sure that the right-wing prankster who brought down the leadership of National Public Radio and the anarchic leaker aren’t split personalities of the same guy — sent by fate to mess with the heads of mainstream journalists?

Sure, one shoots from the left, the other from the right. One deals in genuine (albeit purloined) secrets; the other in “Candid Camera” stunts, most recently posing as a potential donor and entrapping a foolish NPR executive into disclosing his scorn for Republicans and the Tea Party. Assange aims to enlist the media; O’Keefe aims to discredit us. But each, in his own guerrilla way, has sown his share of public doubt about whether the press can be trusted as an impartial bearer of news.

Good grief! Number one, James O'Keefe edited all his videos to take remarks out of context and provide misleading narratives. In spite of having done this with ACORN and with Shirley Sherrod, when he did it again with NPR, the corporate media uncritically passed it along. James O'Keefe is a fraud, but you've repeatedly picked the up the gun he set on the table and shot yourselves in the feet with it.

Number two, you're going to play the victim here and use the term "purloined" to disparage Wikileaks? Think way back. Back into time! Way back when the New York Times had some credibility and didn't uncritically pass along government press releases as the 'news'. Remember the Pentagon Papers? The "purloined" Pentagon Papers?
Some years ago, a colleague tried to sum up the essentials that set us apart from agenda-driven journalists of the right and the left.

The first is that we believe in verification rather than assertion. We put a higher premium on accuracy than on speed or sensation. When we report information, we look hard to see if it stands up to scrutiny. We put our faith in the expensive and sometimes perilous business of witness.

One side of our political spectrum has engaged in class warfare for three decades, and we're buried in debt, entangled in overseas quagmires, and have a society that's reaching levels of income inequality typical of a banana republic as a direct result. Yet the N.Y. Times is going to bring pretend that each side's statements have equal veracity as if every day is a blank slate, and present this as a virtue. Thanks for nothing, Bill. I'm sure it's a coincidence that the owner of the New York Times is a billionaire who inherited his empire, and thus is also a direct beneficiary of this class warfare. (The same is true for the Washington Post, which if anything has shed its reputation even faster than the Times.)

So there is a corollary to this first precept: when we get it wrong, we correct ourselves as quickly and forthrightly as possible. Connoisseurs of penitence find The Times a bottomless source of amusement. (An actual correction: “An article in The Times Magazine last Sunday about Ivana Trump and her spending habits misstated the number of bras she buys. It is two dozen black, two dozen beige and two dozen white, not two thousand of each.”)

At the other end of the culpability scale, I’ve had a few occasions to write mea culpas after we let down our readers in more important ways — including for some reporting before the war in Iraq that should have dug deeper and been more skeptical about the supposed weapons of mass destruction
Oh, so cute. Sure the NYT eventually canned Judy Miller, but her partner in crime, Michael Gordon, is still there drawing paychecks. As Glenn Greenwald has documented extensively, you are still passing along government spin as God's truth. You have yet to explain why waterboarding is torture when other governments do it, but not when our own does.

This is why you've lost your credibility. You've squandered it yourselves.

Second, I see that Bob Herbert is leaving the New York Times. Why don't you read his column, Bill, and think to yourself, "This is what we should be doing." Your job is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. You've gotten it all backwards.

The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.
P.S. H/T to BDR for the Bill Keller link...I've grown accustomed to reading Pauk Krugman and Bob Herbert and nothing else there.


Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

We put our faith in the expensive and sometimes perilous business of witness.

When you should be playing the investigator's role.

It'll be a cold day in hell before I pay for their crap online.

blue girl said...

I'm sad about Bob Herbert. :(

We are losing. I guess we better just get used to it.

blue girl said...

Also. And such as. My niece came to visit me a couple of days ago and brought me a decorative orb as a gift. Those were her words, "Here, I saw this decorative orb and knew you had to have it." lol

Is she a thunder lurker?

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

That was very nice of her, B.G.

See what the orbs did for Jennifer.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

We are losing. I guess we better just get used to it.

I don't think that's true- we have the young people and the growing Latino community on our side. The media is fighting a rear-guard action on behalf of the oligarchs and their dupes, but I refuse to believe that we are losing.

I think the greatest shot we can fire over their bow would be to reclaim May Day... the weather will be nice, it will be a Sunday. If wer could get pro-labor events going, the righties would shit themselves.

Substance McGravitas said...

Have you ever seen Julian Assange and HITLER together?

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

The environmentalist Greens meanwhile took 25% of the vote, ahead of the 23.5% secured by the Social Democrats. The results mean that the center-left parties can now form a coalition, with the Greens set to name the governor in a German state for the first time.

You know who else defeated the Social Democrats?

(Shamelessly stolen from a common tater at Eschaton.)

mikey said...


We ARE losing.

Hell, babe, we've been losing ever since "hippie" became a pejorative. For better than forty years we've watched them win again and again, knowing, no, KNOWING they would wake up and figure out their place in the game. The evangelicals, lied to and laughed at for decades. The racists and tribalists, winked at, disavowed, pandered to in word and deed. We KNEW they would stop, think about the meaning of the words freedom and liberty, words they flung about with abandon, words they laid claim to, words they routinely ignored in the name of a culture war that no one can EVER win.

And now?

Now. Now our last, best hope, indeed our ONLY hope, is for them to overreach, to go for the slaughter, the wipeout, to create so much collateral damage in their quest for the perfect capitalist authoritarian plutocracy that finally, in the end, and perhaps while there was still time and resources left, the people would rise up in appalled indignation and disgust and banish them forever.

And the hell of it is, it just might work that way... said...

I'm a huge fan of Bob Herbert. Now that the New York Times has gone behind a paywall, it makes sense for Herbert to branch out and bring his much-needed message to a wider audience. I hope he has something along those lines in the works.

John said...

What is this "New York Times" of which you speak?

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I was just listening to the 9-13-81 wheel when I saw the link to your home page at C&L's Mike's Blog Roundup. I am not sure what it all means, but I hope it is all meaningful.



Dr.KennethNoisewater said...

Julian Assange is the Tooth Fairy.

Bob said...

Late in seeing this but had to say: great post, ITTDG!