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The deep dishonesty of the New York Times is revealed in its letters column yesterday. The greatest scandal in the paper’s history led to Sunday’s 7,000-word expose of itself and of Jayson Blair’s long run of duplicity, and the Times followed up by publishing a total of six letters on the subject in Tuesday’s paper. Predictably, in the Kabuki dance of pretended journalistic remorse, the Times’ editors selected a couple of very critical letters and a couple that give grudging acknowledgement of the lengths to which the Times has gone to set its house in order.
We have seen this sham before, most recently at CNN in the aftermath of Eason Jordan’s stunning admission that CNN had been complicit in Saddam’s deadly reign of terror, and at the Los Angeles Times in the aftermath of both its Staples Center scandal and following its editing out of a reference to Juanita Broderick from a George Will column. When the left that populates Big Media gets into big trouble, it takes a page from the Clinton playbook, issues an apology, promises soul-searching and goes to the mattresses.
No one has resigned from the New York Times, proving again that there isn’t a shred of honor in the joint – and no one has been fired, proving that there isn’t any courage either. The details of the complicity of the brass in Blair’s many crimes can be found at The Kaus Files and AndrewSullivan.com. Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit.com was right to strike from his homepage a reference comparing his blog to the New York Times. Most serious observers of the news are resigned to the continued tenure of Howell Raines, the big cheese whose politics and ideological drive have so damaged the core product. Some genuine talent remains at the paper – Thomas Shanker and Judith Miller come immediately to mind – but the fevers of Krugman and the epic silliness of Dowd are just two easy-to-see evidences of rot. Blair is just one more. Doctoring the letters is another.
Has the thought of resignation ever crossed Raines’ mind? Why is it that not a single Democrat or lefty journalist can find in themselves the same level of honor as Richard Nixon found in 1974? Could it be that the honor that compels resignation can only proceed from a sense of right and wrong and responsibility that is wholly missing on the left, where all is posture and nothing is permanent?
There is literally nothing that can be done about the Times, or its television counterparts at CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC. The deep dishonesty among the captains of elite media has, if anything, steeled itself to survive the political sea-change in the country by telling itself that it must endure the Bush years in order to lead the country back to the ’60s at some time in the future. The future of most papers is the present of the Los Angeles Times – a detached and largely unread group of very left-leaning reporters growing increasingly bitter in their isolation from mainstream readers. That’s where the New York Times is heading under Raines – another wreck of a once-great institution.
The only suggestion I have for the audience is that if you are moved to comment on the collapse of credibility at the New York Times – and on the total lack of accountability among the avengers of Enron, etc. – don’t send a letter to the editor. Pick any reporter at random – their e-mail addresses usually are attached to the articles they write – and send them your thoughts. Some of these folks are real journalists, and they will circulate your words from desk to desk in the newsroom. If you send a damning missive to the editor, it is likely to end up in the hands of the same people who were fact-checking Jayson Blair.