Monday, September 19, 2005

The Empty Column

New York Times spokesman (a/k/a "public editor") Barney Calame has made the transformation of his pathetic Sunday column complete. The Empty Suit has made it official: He is now the author of an Empty Column.

This management shill and parody of a newspaper ombudsman has again put his column on autopilot, turning it over to readers--this time to discuss the phony issue of whether the Times covered poverty in New Orleans. By so doing, he ducked out, yet again, discussing actual ethical transgressions by the Times staff.

As I pointed out the last time Calame put his column on autopilot, "Every biased and inept journalist loves reader letters. They are a thousand times better than the Public Editor roasting your tootsies. That's why the distant rumble you heard this morning was from Times editors breathing a sigh of relief. They're off the hook for another week."

Not that I have anything against letters from readers. Au contraire--they are essential. As a matter of fact, Calame's web journal is designed just for that, to be a message board in which Calame can exchange views with readers. Instead, the Empty Suit has been using his "web journal" to bury controversial items.

A good example is his handling of Paul Krugman's refusal to correct -- in his column, as required by Times policy -- a blatantly erroneous item on the 2000 presidential elections. Calame correctly criticized Krugman for that. But as I noted in an earlier item, he confined his columns to his little-read "web journal"--thereby burying the issue just as Krugman had done.

Krugman made his goof in his print column, the one read by over a million people. When he wouldn't fix his error in print, any newspaper ombudsman or "public editor" worth his salt would have fixed it for him -- in print. But you have to remember that Calame is not a newspaper ombudsman or "public editor." He is an imitation of one -- not a convincing imitation, but an imitation nevertheless.

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