Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Empty Suit Watch: Barney Hits the Ice

The Suit: Skating Over Thin Ice

I have been critical of the Empty Suit, New York Times spokesman (a/k/a "public editor") Barney Calame, for allegedly ignoring important issues and instead focusing on trivia and running reader letters as he waits for his contract to run out.

Boy was I wrong!

Today, the Suit dusts off his cobweb-covered "Web Journal" to tackle a vital issue of the day. Let's see if you can guess what it is from the following four choices:

1. The fallout from the Judith Miller mess, in which he has ably served as management lapdog.
2. One of the several dozen issues, ranging from foreign policy to domestic issues, highlighted by TimesWatch as an example of bias.
3. The Times's biased coverage of the Middle East, most recently this atrocity, or perhaps the editorial, not yet corrected, that misstated the origins of the Intifada.
4. Hockey.

Did you guess...... hockey? Give that reader a cigar. Yes, you guessed correctly. In his column today, backdated (as usual) to Nov. 23, Barney responds to this urgent reader concern: "a paucity of coverage of his favorite hockey team by The Times."

As in every other issue touched by the soothing hands of Barney Calame, that too is an area in which you, dear reader, have nothing to worry about. Barney relayed a response from the sports editor to a reader letter that, he assures us, "might be interesting to other sports fans and readers of The Times."

Actually Barney is correct. The Times sports editor ends his dissertation on coverage of hockey by saying, "We hope you'll enjoy our coverage as the season progresses." And you know, that same sentiment can be applied to the Empty Suit. He sure is "enjoyable," in the sense of being unintentionally (or perhaps, maybe even intentionally?) funny.

Barney certainly is the best satirist and parody writer around, as he makes believe he is a newspaper ombudsman. Only problem is that his "season" -- his contract -- with the Times has another year and a half to run. And it sure is starting to drag.

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