Ed Driscoll

Gray Lady Logic

Kevin D. Williamson asks readers to “Explain this reasoning to me“:

According to the geniuses at the Times, the governor of Alaska is self-evidently and grossly unqualified to be vice president of the United States, but a pop singer is obviously qualified to be lecturing the world about African civil wars and developmental economics.

Here’s a little insight into the world of the Times op-ed page from editor Andrew Rosenthal:

Though rockers and pop stars are welcome, another group faces an uphill battle on to the New York Times’ editorial page – conservatives. “[US Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice is a particularly bad op-ed writer,” Rosenthal said. However, the problem doesn’t end there. “The problem with conservative columnists,” Rosenthal said, “is that many of them lie in print.” And they can’t sing.

Liars? That’s a bit cheeky from the newspaper that brought us Walter Duranty and Jayson Blair.

Condoleezza Rice got her PhD when she was 26 and speaks fluent Russian. Bono wears snazzy glasses and can see Ireland from his house.

It’s more than reasonable to extend Rosenthal’s attack on conservative columnists to potential conservative readers of the Times, and to reasonably assume that the Timespeople would prefer those readers avoid their product, just as many of those in Bono’s industry would prefer they stay home. Which is one of the reasons why Steve Green projects out the Times’ finances and writes, “The NYT in default? It couldn’t happen to a nicer paper.”

And even as his profession rushes headlong towards a financial cliff, veteran journalist Michael Malone writes that its moral bankruptcy has never been more evident:

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those people who think the media has been too hard on, say, Gov. Palin, by rushing reportorial SWAT teams to Alaska to rifle through her garbage. This is the Big Leagues, and if she wants to suit up and take the field, then Gov. Palin better be ready to play. The few instances where I think the press has gone too far – such as the Times reporter talking to Cindy McCain’s daughter’s MySpace friends – can easily be solved with a few newsroom smackdowns and temporary repostings to the Omaha Bureau.

No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side – or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for Senators Obama and Biden. If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as President of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography. That isn’t Sen. Obama’s fault: his job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media’s fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so.

Why, for example to quote McCain’s lawyer, haven’t we seen an interview with Sen. Obama’s grad school drug dealer – when we know all about Mrs. McCain’s addiction? Are Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko that hard to interview? All those phony voter registrations that hard to scrutinize? And why are Senator Biden’s endless gaffes almost always covered up, or rationalized, by the traditional media?

The absolute nadir (though I hate to commit to that, as we still have two weeks before the election) came with Joe the Plumber. [aka “the now infamous Joe the plumber”, according to 530 Web pages tracked by Google–Ed] Middle America, even when they didn’t agree with Joe, looked on in horror as the press took apart the private life of an average person who had the temerity to ask a tough question of a Presidential candidate. So much for the Standing Up for the Little Man, so much for Speaking Truth to Power, so much for Comforting the Afflicting and Afflicting the Comfortable, and all of those other catchphrases we journalists used to believe we lived by.

I learned a long time ago that when people or institutions begin to behave in a matter that seems to be entirely against their own interests, it’s because we don’t understand what their motives really are. It would seem that by so exposing their biases and betting everything on one candidate over another, the traditional media is trying to commit suicide – especially when, given our currently volatile world and economy, the chances of a successful Obama presidency, indeed any presidency, is probably less than 50:50.

Furthermore, I also happen to believe that most reporters, whatever their political bias, are human torpedoes . . .and, had they been unleashed, would have raced in and roughed up the Obama campaign as much as they did McCain’s. That’s what reporters do, I was proud to have been one, and I’m still drawn to a good story, any good story, like a shark to blood in the water.

So why weren’t those legions of hungry reporters set loose on the Obama campaign? Who are the real villains in this story of mainstream media betrayal?

The editors. The men and women you don’t see; the people who not only decide what goes in the paper, but what doesn’t; the managers who give the reporters their assignments and lay-out the editorial pages. They are the real culprits.

Why? I think I know, because had my life taken a different path, I could have been one: Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you’ve spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power . . . only to discover that you’re presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn’t have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you’ll lose your job before you cross that finish line, ten years hence, of retirement and a pension.

In other words, you are facing career catastrophe -and desperate times call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway – all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.

And then the opportunity presents itself: an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career. With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived Fairness Doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe, be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it’s all for the good of the country . . .

To say it outright: I think President Obama will be just such a shift, an extraordinary marker, a type and flavor of history that we as preternaturally jaded humans rarely get to experience anymore.”