Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Is Navasky to Blame for the CJR's Bias?

The David M Blog today has a thoughtful analysis of a new development in the Columbia Journalism Review/Victor Navasky kerfuffle. This latest turn of the screw raises an interesting question: Is Victor Navasky to blame for the CJR's bias? Or did the CJR manage to flush its reputation down the toilet all by itself?

CJR managing editor Steve Lovelady says the following about The Nation's publisher running things for the past year:
One of these days, I'm sure I'll meet, or hear from, the elusive Victor Navasky. I'm told his new book is a must-read, and it's said he's a lovely guy. Sooner or later, we have to run in to each other. I'll let you know when it happens. Stay tuned.
Lovelady is not the top editor at CJR, of course. That position is held by Michael Hoyt, who has remained mute. But let's just say, for the sake of argument, that neither gent ever gets within a thousand yards of Victor Navasky (which is preoposterous, of course, because Navasky is a full prof at Columbia's J-school, which is in the same building as CJR and which runs CJR. But let's assume that anyway).

As Lovelady (and anyone who has ever set foot in a newsroom) knows full well, publishers and "chairmen" and people in similar positions don't stand around breathing down the necks of editors. Navasky's views are well known, just as William F. Buckley's views are well known. Steve Lovelady knows that he has to keep on Victor Navasky's good side to keep his job. End of story.

We also know that CJR would go ape if William F. Buckley were the hidden power at some other journalism review.

So we should forgive Lovelady for this patently dishonest line of pap. Actually I don't know which is worse--Navasky having editorial say at CJR or not having a say at CJR. If the latter is the case, then CJR very much of its own volition ignored the UN correspondents payola and immigration scandal, in which The Nation's UN guy, fifth-rate hack Ian Williams, played a central role.

Did Lovelady and the other CJR editors ignore that, while hammering away at similar and less troublesome controversies, because they were incompetent or because of their own biases or because they were knuckling under to the express or perceived desires of Victor Navasky? That is the question.

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