Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Times Lectures Its Moronic Readers

Today we get a belated response to the furor that arose when a New York Times op-ed page editor put anti-Bush words in an op-ed piece -- drawing an infuriatingly lame "explanation of process" response from the Empty Suit, public editor Barney Calame.

Without deigning to mention the article in question, Op-Ed Page editor David Shipley patiently explains to his moronic readers that yes, children, Times pieces are edited. Apparently readers don't understand that. They are really stupid, and they have a lot of "questions," says Shipley. Not accusations of bias -- "questions."
Not surprisingly, readers have lots of questions about the editing that goes on. What kind of changes do we suggest - and why? What kind of changes do we insist on - and why? When do we stay out of the way? And the hardy perennial: do we edit articles to make them adhere to a particular point of view? I thought I'd try to provide a few answers.
He then provides those answers, again, patiently, just as Barney did, and explains "process,"while again ignoring the valid questions that had been raised about the "process" that put anti-Bush sentiments in the article of a non-anti-Bush contributor.

Put words in a contributor's mouth? Really. So childish as to not worth a response, or even a mention. So immature--confusing editing with inserting an editor's opinion! "Now to some people, this may sound surprising, as if we're putting words in people's mouths. But there's a crucial distinction to be made between changing a writer's argument - and suggesting language that will help a writer make his point more effectively,"says Shipley.

Only one problem with this non-excuse excuse: The Times put words in a contributor's mouth. That's just not seriously in dispute. Shipley is apparently a practitioner of what might be called the "Groucho Marx School of Argumentation." As Groucho once said, "What are you going to believe, me or your own two eyes?"

The Times is confident in its arrogance. Its laughable "reader's representative" had spoken, and speaketh no more, so there is nothing to worry about on that front. What you really have to wonder, reading Shipley's piece, is whether he actually believed that he was going to convince even so much as a single reader.

Elsewhere on the op-ed page, we learn that the Empty Suit "on vacation until Aug. 14." But don't fret. Even though its do-nothing management shill is on vacation, the Times is clearly getting along fine in his absence. The position is still filled. The desk is occupied. The divan is ready for his return.

By the way--for those who might be wondering-- there's 21 months before the 66-year-old Calame's contract expires. You can bet these 21 months are going to be relaxing, enjoyable years for the Times, and frustrating years for Times readers who are childish enough to believe that accusations of bias deserves answers, not evasions and irrelevant explanations of "process."

UPDATE: The Snapshots blog observes that Shipley is full of beans in saying that op-ed pieces are edited for factual misstatements. The blog notes that a Palestinian propagandist was allowed to spew blatant lies in an op-ed article last October.

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