Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Empty Suit Shows His Political Stripes

The Empty Suit, New York Times spokesman (alias "public editor") Barney Calame, has tried hard to say as little as possible since coming on board seven months ago. Most of his padded columns focus on trivia or meaningless "process."

Saying nothing about the Times's relentless political agenda -- such as persistent anti-Israel bias -- is itself a political statement, and Barney's political slant was no more evident than it was in his column today.

The subject was a controversial Dec. 16 story describing National Security Council eavesdropping without court order. As usual when dealing with controversy, Barney focuses on process -- and begins the column by thumping his chest about Times editors not answering his questions on that score.

Barney, however, is not in the least troubled by the actual content of the article -- which has drawn ferocious criticism, and a well-warranted leak investigation, for potentially endangering national security. Barney doesn't even mention the strong objections that have been raised to the article, such as a memorable New York Post editorial that said the Times was "toying with treason." The Post asked, "Has The New York Times declared itself to be on the front line in the war against the War on Terror??"

Amazingly (or maybe not so amazingly) Barney doesn't even mention such valid criticism. Instead, he homes in on why this delightful article was delayed for a year -- the same issue being pushed by the antiwar crowd, which is upset the piece didn't run during the 2004 elections.

Barney shares the Moonbat outrage. "I have had unusual difficulty getting a better explanation for readers, despite the paper's repeated pledges of greater transparency." But "transparency" is a phony issue. The newspaper can be as transparent as a pane of glass, and still be as biased as ever.

As for the article itself, Barney ladles on the flattery:

At the outset, it's essential to acknowledge the far-reaching importance of the eavesdropping article's content to Times readers and to the rest of the nation. Whatever its path to publication, Mr. Sulzberger and Mr. Keller deserve credit for its eventual appearance in the face of strong White House pressure to kill it. And the basic accuracy of the account of the eavesdropping stands unchallenged - a testament to the talent in the trenches.

The fact that the White House had a valid reason to ask that it be killed is not even mentioned, much less explored. I'm not saying he has to agree with the White House, just explore the issue, for Pete's sake.

Barney would probably respond, "Not my job."

Hey, they don't call him a "parody of a newspaper ombudsman" for nothing. And as his column today indicates, his "public editor act" has a strong political content.

UPDATE: Excellent analysis of the Calame-ity's column in the American Thinker. It notes that Barney, after grousing about being stonewalled, blithely thrust ahead in management-shill mode:

In other words, after hitting a stonewall, he continues forward motion in a full grovel.

It is time to add a new word to Byron Calame’s title. No longer does “public editor” suffice. It should be “public relations editor.”

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