Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Wuss Speaks!

Daniel Okrent sounded off on a radio show called On the Media, apparently an NPR program, about reaction to his column on "Israel-Palestine." (As several people have pointed out, use of the term "Palestine" is itself slanted, as there is no such entity.) The "hot button," our wuss calls it. A transcript has just slithered its way onto the web.

Okrent essentially repeats his lame excuse for lying on the floor and wimpering as he did in his column. But he makes one statement that stands out in its sheer dishonesty:

OKRENT: The Times is unable, and no newspaper is able, to include enough history in a given article to explain why something has happened. We can say there was an attack on this Hamas leader's house, because last week there was a bombing in Jerusalem, and then the week before that there was this, which caused the bombing in Jerusalem - but you can't take it back to --

[Program host Brooke Gladstone helpfully interjects "five thousand years."]

OKRENT: Yeah, which is really what you would need to do.

First of all, it is not necessary for an article to go back "five thousand years" to explain something. That is utter baloney. Second of all, if that were the case, the Times and every other newspaper would go out of the business of "explanatory journalism," to which they have proudly hitched their stars for the past four decades. In the case of the Times, there'd be a blank space in place of the articles that run every Sunday in the Week in Review, and every day as news analyses and Op-Ed pieces.

Says Okrent: "Daily journalism, as I said in the piece, is - it's absolutely essential, and it's wholly inadequate for a story like this one." That's a slap in the face of the few intellectually honest Western journalists who tell the truth about the Arab-Israel conflict. The vast majority, it seems, spend their time hanging out with each other and with their "Pal" contacts, and write the same dreary pap.

As I indicated in previous items, Okrent simply didn't have the gumption to take a stance on the subject of the Times's well-documented slant against Israel, and he made use of all the usual rhetorical devices used by craven editors who want to duck the issue, such as the "convenient critic." His use of the term "Palestine," which was noted by a number of people, is a possible (but by no means conclusive) tipoff of his own views on the Middle East. Ditto for his totally spineless "dialogue" with the Jew-bating pinheads who felt that the Times's Israel staff is excessively Semitic.

All in all, a pretty lame end to Okrent's term as Public Editor. Hurry up, Calame!
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