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Ed Driscoll

Great Moments In MSM Brand Continuity, Part Deux

April 24th, 2010 - 2:27 pm

The New York Times’ archliberal former editor Howell Raines, writing for the Washington Post last month:

“For the first time since the yellow journalism of a century ago, the United States has a major news organization devoted to the promotion of one political party.”

Raines’ successor at the New York Times, Bill Keller on Henry Luce (1898-1967), the founder of Time magazine:

Halberstam described Luce as part hick, noting that “our best editors have always been at least partly hick, everything is new and fresh and possible for them, they take nothing for granted.” Luce’s almost childish curiosity and wonder was the redeeming genius of his magazines.

But his publications were also characterized by an infatuation with power — for a long time, Brinkley says, Mussolini was treated with a fascination “often indistinguishable from admiration” [there was a lot of that going around back then -- Ed] and a full-throated, mostly Republican partisanship. Luce urged his magazines to promote politicians he loved. He wrote campaign speeches for Wendell Willkie, adored Eisenhower, paid lavishly for excerpts from Winston Churchill’s memoirs and was a little dazzled by Kennedy’s Camelot. Luce was so myopically devoted to the Chinese Nationalist autocrat Chiang Kai-shek that he overrode his own skeptical correspondents and minimized the surging strength of the Chinese Communists. He called for the United States to “free” China, using nuclear weapons if necessary. Luce despised Roosevelt — in part because Roosevelt failed to flatter him, but mostly because he saw Roosevelt as too passive in world affairs — and he used Time to wage a feud with the president.

Of course, every once a while after Raines left, the Times admitted the obvious, and had more than a little partisanship themselves.

Call it “epistemic closure” for lack of a better phrase.

Related: Luce’s calculations stood him in relatively good steed for the vast majority of the 20th century, and would continue to do so, we’re he still around today. (Just ask Rupert Murdoch, who has revived Luce’s center-right approach to American journalism). In contrast, Mark Steyn explores how the bets placed by the Times’ pater familias in his twilight look 15 years later, beginning with his headline: Sucker Punch.

Or as a particularly acidic section of Punch’s Wikipedia page currently reads:

Sulzberger is know for his farseeing opinions on the effects of the internet on the media, having decided at an early stage that it would never provide any serious competition to newspapers and making major business investments based on that insight. The current financial position of the New York Times group may be largely attributed to this strategic vision.

Heh.

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