Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Empty Suit Watch: Calame Hits Another Softball

Calame: Avoids Controversy

Since the New York Times Public Editor, Barney Calame, last stirred himself from his deck chair to write a column on July 3, the Times has been awash in some of the most significant controversies of its entire existence. Among them:

A Times reporter went to jail for concealing a source, causing a firestorm of controversy about the whole issue of anonymous sources; Times stories about the controversy, and Karl Rove in particular, have come under fire; its coverage of the London blasts have included an apologia for terrorists; a Sunday magazine piece glamorized the dictator of Syria. The Timeswatch website, which chooses its battles carefully,wrote 32 critiques since July 3.

So what does Calame tackle in today's column? He writes about a minor production goof. Seems the Times went back and forth with some guy who wrote an op-ed piece, an editor suggested some changes that were rejected, the changes got in because of a production error. That's all. No big deal. I just described it in one sentence.

Calame focuses on this trivial incident -- which, not coincidentally, puts the Times in a favorable light -- as part of his practice of serving as a spokesman for Times management who does not even attempt to fill the role of an independent ombudsman.

That has been his practice in previous columns (not to mention his slimy role in fronting for the Times Business Section in ripping off this blog--or as Michelle Malkin put it, "All the News that's Fit to Poach"; see David M's take on that).

Calame began his column today by saying: "Upholding the journalistic integrity of The New York Times requires a lot of care." That is more than just pompous blather as well as, arguably, the "funniest sentence ever printed in the NY Times," as Michelle Malkin correctly observed today. It also sums up how Calame views his job.

UPDATE: Apparently, as a result of my customary restraint, my description of Calame's July 17 column failed to note that it was incomplete and generally a joke. Hat tip: the National Review Online Media Blog.

Also, I went back and realized that Calame told us weeks ago that he was going to be an empty suit! Details in this update.