Monday, August 08, 2005

The Empty Suit Earns His Pay

Grapples With Nanny Issues

The New York Times public editor, Barney Calame, wipes the cobwebs off his unused "weblog" with an online entry dated August 5, putting an item on the Internet-- something most ombudsman do regularly, or even daily -- for the first time since June 29. (Actually the item was only dated Aug. 5; it just materialized on the web this morning.) The important thing is this: The Empty Suit, famed for doing as little as possible and stepping in occasionally as a management shill, has roused himself to address one of the most important issues of the day!

So let's see if you can guess what lured Barney from the divan:

1. Judith Miller
2. One of the zillion daily complaints of NY Times bias
3. One of the zillion daily complaints of NY Times inaccuracy
4. Ditto, the Middle East
5. Ditto, the Supreme Court nomination
6. A story about a nanny.

If you guessed No. 6, you are of course correct. Seems that somebody wrote a first-person article about her nanny, who was keeping a blog. Now, mind you, blogs are something about which Barney feels strongly. When the Times rips off blogs, the Empty Suit puts on his "management shill" hat and loyally defends his employers. However, a blog ripoff is not his issue today.

Seems that the nanny kept a smutty blog, told her employer about it, the employer read the blog and got mad and fired her. Horrible! Controversial! One of the biggest issues of the day! No wonder Barney picked that instead of one of the other five actual issues that might require this gutless bureaucrat to bite the hands that feeds him.

Seems "an unusual number of readers were upset" by the story, because they felt that the anonymous nanny's blog had been misquoted. Oh my. Awful. Well, here comes Barney, riding to the rescue. He talks to the editor. Not true! The Times was thorough and responsible, as befits a thorough and responsible newspaper. Concluded Barney: "In this case, I think the process followed by the editors demonstrated as much care about fairness, privacy and accuracy as was possible."

The Times is vindicated again, thanks to a "public editor" who avoids serious issues and focuses on trivia, so as to carry out his function -- which is burnish the reputation of his employer.

Take a bow, Barney Calame! The Empty Suit is earning his pay.

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