March 25, 2004
I'VE JUST STARTED READING Alan Shipnuck's book, The Battle for Augusta National: Hootie, Martha and the Masters of the Universe, and so far it's pretty good. I'm sure it'll be better than Howell Raines' autobiography, which Jack Shafer eviscerates. The real connection between the two, though, is that the Martha Burk / Augusta National brouhaha underscored the New York Times' growing irrelevance. As Mark Steyn noted:
In the last nine months, the New York Times has run 95 stories on Martha Burk and Augusta. So, aside from being outnumbered by police and reporters, Burk's 40 supporters were outnumbered more than two to one by New York Times stories on Burk. Every time the Times mentioned this allegedly raging furor, it attracted approximately another 0.4 of a supporter to her cause. . . .
The Times' carpet bombing of Augusta has proved a pathetic bunker-bust. This is supposed to be the most influential newspaper in America, the one whose front page all but dictates the agenda of the network news shows. And its most fiercely sustained campaign can't fill a single school bus?
That is Raines' legacy, and it appears to be in no danger from his successors.