Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Times? Liberal? Naaah.....

The New York Times spokesman (AKA "public editor") Barney Calame has dusted off his cobweb-covered "web journal" to finally mumble a few words about the Times' grudging, belated coverage of the Air America scandal. Said Calame, "Readers of The Times were poorly served by the paper's slowness to cover official investigations into questionable financial transactions involving Air America."

Well, woop-de-doo! Calame has finally said something slightly negative about the Times. Hooray! Hooray! Of course, Times readers were also poorly served by Calame's slowness to cover the complaints on that score for weeks on end, but then again he is the Empty Suit, a do-nothing parody of a newspaper ombudsman, so nobody expects anything better from him. But here's the fun part:

Barney whipped out his Sherlock Holmes hat and magnifying glass, conducted a thorough investigation, and found that the Times is not a liberal newspaper! Yup, here are his exact words:

There's another reason to get to the bottom of the scandal. It's the perception problem — a perception of liberal bias for which I haven't found any evidence after checking with editors at the paper.
Reassuring, isn't it? Liberal bias at the Times does not exist. It is a "perception" problem "inspired by conservative bloggers." It is all in your imagination. The Great Oz has spoken! Besides, Calame has proof. He called the editors who ignored the Air America story, and they denied that liberal bias was the reason. So the Times is not liberal. Time to go back to the divan.

Apparently, the Empty Suit's investigation left out something--his own column. His predecessor, the increasingly heroic-looking Daniel Okrent, wrote a famous column over a year ago in which he indicated that liberal bias is an obvious, self-evident trait of the paper. "Is the New York Times a liberal newspaper. Of course it is," said Okrent. "I don't think it's intentional when The Times does this. But negligence doesn't have to be intentional," said Okrent.

Of course, what we have on exhibit today is not negligence. Calame is doing his job--magnificently I might add. No pesky columns making life uncomfortable for the newsroom, no annoying questions making the publisher look bad.

When Calame turned out to be a gutless management shill, he surprised a lot of people (myself included, I have to admit) who remember that he worked for many years as an editor at the Wall Street Journal -- a paper esteemed for its objective news columns and featuring a conservative editorial page.

What we all forgot was that Calame is what one reader accurately termed a "corporate editor" -- a professional bureaucrat. A bureaucrat's job is to serve his employer, and nobody knows that better than the Empty Suit.

UPDATE: The American Thinker has an excellent fisking of Calame's lame excuses. This "not my job" thing is such utter baloney. Since when has anyone at the Times cared about territory? If a reporter was interested in the story, all he had to do is tell his editor and the editor would say to the other two desks, "hey, any problem?" No Times reporter would say "not my job." That's not the Times culture.

No, this was a situation in which no reporters or editors were interested because of that self-evident reason that was so obvious to Dan Okrent and everybody on the planet except the Empty Suit.

A career bureaucrat like Calame would know perfectly well that he was being snowed. A true "public editor" would call it baloney. A management shill, which is what Calame is, would just shrug and say, "OK," and go back to sleep on the divan.

Michelle Malkin picks up on something else that the Empty Suit said--that lack of "awareness" of the competition was an excuse given by the editors:

Not only did the New York Times get beat by its competitors across town (the New York Sun and the New York Post), its reporters and editors weren't even aware of what the Sun and Post were reporting. In other words, the Times staff, by its own admission, was less informed about the latest developments at Air America than the average Sun or Post reader.

Which, by the way, I don't happen to believe. They just fed old Barney a line of claptrap, and he swallowed it, hook, line and sinker. Not because he believed it, but because he sees it as being his job to believe it.

Barney's credibility is eroding so fast that it really makes you wonder--is he doing Times management more harm than good? It theoretically makes sense to have an Empty Suit as public editor, but in practice that just gives critics of the Times something else to ridicule.
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