The Associated Press quotes the New York Times management as admitting that the Jayson Blair four years of lying as a Times reporter is “a low point in the 152 year history of the newspaper.”
That is an understatement.
It is the lowest point in the history of American journalism.
It is even worse than the New York Times continuing to brag about the 1932 Pulitzer Prize won by their Moscow correspondent, Walter Duranty. This creature repeatedly lied in claiming that Joseph Stalin’s Red Army never starved to death so many millions of Ukrainians.
How has the Times’ management reacted to this latest scandal?
First, they published four full pages of confession about reporter Jayson Blair’s extended lying. But they did not fire the two editors who for affirmative action sake allowed his lies into print and kept promoting him: Executive Editor Howell Raines, and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd.
When this unprecedented confession did not satisfy an enraged newsroom, publisher “Pinch” Sulzberger called a mass meeting of Times reporters and editors. But he ruined this in two ways: (1) Excluding all other media from this media event, and (2) Announcing that even if Editor Raines offered his resignation, he would turn it down.
Now, it is apparent that this “Pinch” Sulzberger refusal to fire the two editors Raines and Boyd not only continues the newsroom outrage – but may well have alarmed and outraged the older members of the Sulzberger family who are majority shareholders.
For now, the AP reports yet another step:
A committee of 20 New York Times staffers and two outside news executives will review the newspaper’s newsroom policies … the Times on Wednesday named retiring Associated Press President and CEO Louis D. Boccardi, and Joann Byrd, outgoing Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial page editor, to the committee.
The committee, headed by the Times’ Assistant Managing Editor Allan M. Siegal, “will conduct a comprehensive review” of the Times’ newsroom policies “in the aftermath of the Jayson Blair episode” according to a memo to the newspaper’s staff.
The committee’s charge is to determine when, where, how and why our newsroom’s culture, organizational processes and actions led to a failure of our journalism. A third non-Times member may be added, the memo said, and the outside members will “serve as our sounding board and reality check: We want to be told forcefully if we are going too easy on ourselves.”
As a New York Times shareholder, (I own four shares – four-but-proud) who has written for more daily newspapers (200) than most of the Times reporters – I hereby volunteer for this third position (knowing full well that the chances I will be invited are somewhere between slim and none, and slim just left town).
What is needed immediately is to fire both Raines and Boyd – who allowed this four years of lying.
But there’s a catch … the AP also reports:
“The committee will make recommendations to publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Executive Editor Howell Raines and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd.”
Maybe the Sulzberger family – in order to rescue their “All The News That’s Fit to Print,” can move to replace “Pinch” as well as Raines and Boyd – or else this mess is going to get worse.
In Rockford, Ill., a New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter named Chris Hedges was booed off the graduation platform at Rockford College. Hedges enraged graduates and their families with a Times-editorial-type attack on U.S. policy in Iraq.
In Cleveland, Times reporter Fox Butterfield was sued for defamation of Judge Francis Sweeney.
Something very decisive must be done to rescue this Newspaper of Record from American history’s worst journalistic dishonesty.