July 25, 2003

Praise the New York Times but Pass the Ammunition

Brooks Appointment as Columnist Gives False Hope to Sullivan, Drezner, et. al.

"Mr. [David] Brooks's appointment was announced by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The Times, and Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page." -- New York Times Announcement

The always eloquent David Warren, reponding to the good news of the deaths of Saddam's sons, issues a timely warning:Smelling Blood [Emphasis added]

The power of the enemy does not depend on his strength, but on our weakness; not on his malice, but on our restraint.

As Daniel Pipes explained yesterday, paraphrasing Lee Harris: "Al Qaeda destroys airplanes and buildings that it itself could not possibly build. The Palestinian Authority has failed in every field of endeavor except killing Israelis. Saddam Hussein's Iraq grew dangerous thanks to money showered on it by the West to purchase petroleum Iraqis themselves had neither located nor extracted." And the ability of such enemies to regroup against a West trying to defend itself, now depends on the media's ability to hog-tie the West's legitimate political leaders....

...That is why small, but highly visible pieces of good news are crucial just now -- of which the killing of Saddam's sons would be an example. At a moment when the "liberal" media are smelling blood, let us pray it turns out to be their own.

I've always respected the power of prayer, having been a devout "Christian in Crisis Only" for a number of years, but here I fear prayer will not avail us.

Our enemies persist even though we like to think we have them on the run, and they are given aid and comfort daily by those for whom America will always come last, i.e. those whom America has made first. They are aided, not out a direct desire to help them, but out of a misplaced empathy and the distorted one-world vision of the Liberal Media Ownership. Not "Establishment," but "Ownership." The distinction is critical as we shall see.

Raines may be gone, but ... the Moose remains.

As I wrote a couple of days ago, those in the media that continue to wish for and work for the downfall of this country are the least likely to see themselves as others see them. They cannot. They exist in a bubble of mutual self-regard and congratulation that is, in the end, impervious to outside correction. They see themselves as 'patriots of the human race and citizens of the world.' They exist in the pampered realms of international ease and, being surrounded with others like themselves and their sycophants, they cannot perceive any other universe. East Side, West Side, Hamptons, Bel Air, Vail, the Colony. It is a rarified air they

breathe and they depend on lesser mortals to keep them in oxygen and their friends and toadies to keep them in certainty.

Warren, at another point in the essay referenced above, notes that the New York Times decides for thousands of other print and electronic media outlets the important stories and opinions of the day. A chilling power made colder still by the inability of many in the media to think for themselves. But who, exactly, determines not the day-to-day stories of the Times, but the overall tone and agenda?

Much has been made in recent weeks of the removal of the "Raines Regime" at the Times and the hopes for a bright, new and unbiased day at that august institution. Yesterday the Times announced the appointment of the conservative columnist David Brooks and joy was unrefined throughout conservative circles. It seemed to many to be a sign that the Times at last was about to give up its pretensions, and join the ranks of those with a decent regard for the future of the country that made the New York Times possible.

Champagne was poured.

It will prove to be hogwash.

The New York Times will continue to be The New York Times. It will, in its infinite hubris, continue to pursue its overwhelmingly liberal agenda of transforming the nature and strength of the United States into that of a lesser, more humble, and much weaker power.

It will persist in its error unless or until some future terrorist, unimpressed by the Times' record of blaming America and George Bush first for every ill that exists in the world, finds a way to blow a meeting of the Times' Board of Directors off the face of the earth. At that point, after a suitable period of mourning, it just might occur to the surviving ownership of the Times that they just might have been drilling a dry hole in terms of creating a world of peace, unity, and a local Times edition in the hands of every living human being.

Raines may be gone, but it is well to remember that the Moose still has his job.

The origin of the shrunk-wrapped mindset that controls the Times is not to be found in the newsroom, or at the meetings of the now uncloaked editorial board. It is to be found, as all newspapers policies are to be found, in the office of the Publisher.

Raines was not hung out to twist in the wind because he wasn't careful enough with his choice of reporters, neither was he hung out because his political and philosophical beliefs were too extreme for the Publisher. Indeed, they were just what the Publisher wanted, which was why he had the job in the first place. Raines was given the boot because his actions and inaction had directly threatened the Publisher's job. It was, at the end of the day, a situation that evolved into either Howell or Pinch. In that case, adios Howell. Every time.

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. (aka 'Pinch') is the person responsible for the tone and the direction of the Times. He is the Publisher, but not through merit or inate talent -- no matter how much the internal spin machine of the Times may try to convey that image. Nope, Pinch is merely the person who hit the biggest win in the American media DNA lottery. Ultimately, this shining example of nepotism's ability to turn those who would normally be the last into those who are the first, is the one driving the lurching bus of America's most influential media organ. As long as he remains at the wheel, and there is no reason to believe that he will soon be gone, the Times will continue, at bottom, to reflect the attitudes and aspirations of the privileged liberal social milieu that created him.

Virginia Postrel sees this as well when she writes: "It may be noteworthy that opinion editor Gail Collins, a Raines protege, reports not to Bill Keller but to Arthur Sulzberger Jr. The new regime may extend beyond the newsroom." It is more than noteworthy, it is a clear sign that the more things change, the more the Times will remain the same.

Only journalists are foolish enough to suppose that newspapers exist so that their view of the world can go forward. Newspapers exist so that the views of the Publisher can go forward. Editors and other staff are there to try and make the thing profitable as well, that the lifestyles of the Publisher may also go forward.

In other word, the Leopard may hire the "acceptable conservative" for protective coloration, but that does not mean the spots have changed.

Christopher Hitchens understands this in a much more pellucid way than the always hopeful Andrew Sullivan : "A great move for the New York Times, although David will have to defend himself from becoming the tame establishment conservative. Still, it really does show someone there gets what has gone wrong. "(Well, now that Howell is gone it wouldn't be a 'bad' thing to get articles back in the Times, would it?). And Hitchens also understands the Leopard / Spots issue better than Daniel Drezner: "This is a very smart move by the Times for two reasons. First, Brooks combines the rare qualities of good writing and interesting ideas. He deserves the slot." Drezner is right. Sullivan is right. But Postrel is spot on.

But Hitchens got the real story almost a year ago in "So Long, Fellow Travelers," his swan song to The Odious Nation and all the baggage that is has been hauling through the swamp of history.

Instead of internationalism, we find among the Left now a sort of affectless, neutralist, smirking isolationism. In this moral universe, the views of the corrupt and conservative Jacques Chirac -- who built Saddam Hussein a nuclear reactor, knowing what he wanted it for -- carry more weight than those of persecuted Iraqi democrats. In this moral universe, the figure of Jimmy Carter -- who incited Saddam to attack Iran in 1980, without any U.N. or congressional consultation that I can remember -- is considered axiomatically more statesmanlike than Bush.

I look forward to Brooks at the Times. He will enhance their pages from time to time, but it is well to remember that many more Jimmy Carters will continue to blot the pages of the Times at a much greater rate. This will hold true as long as Pinch continues as publisher and, as I said, he may not be smart enough for the job but he's got enough brains and DNA to keep the job.

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Posted by Vanderleun at July 25, 2003 12:55 PM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Loved the article and glad I was sent to your site which is now a Favorite. What you say about the NYT is so true. Unfortunately.

Fraternally yours, Judith

Posted by: Judith Carol at July 26, 2003 6:07 AM

I hope you're wrong, but you're probably not.

Posted by: RLS at July 26, 2003 11:34 AM

Talk abut not tolerating different views..what an apologist you are...projection on your parts, nothing more..nothing less

Posted by: Burlingame at July 28, 2003 10:53 AM
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