“The New York Times Devours Itself,” Matthew Continetti writes at the Washington Free Beacon, in a piece titled “The Bonfire of the Inanities.” Given the Tom Wolfe reference in the headline, as I mentioned the other day, in The Right Stuff, Wolfe referred to what we now call the MSM as adopting the tone of the “Victorian Gentleman.” But underneath that tone, as Continetti notes, the inhabitants of the temple of Big Journalism in the US consist of a pack of out of control school kids playing dress-up and pretending to be Citizen Kane:
What makes the story so enjoyable, on the most superficial level, is its lurid combination of identity politics—Abramson was the first female editor of the Times, and Baquet is its first African-American editor—and liberal hypocrisy. Equal pay has been one of the rallying cries of the American left, a category that very much includes the New York Times, and the possibility of sexism at the paper is rich indeed. But I have to say I am less interested in equal wages, in comparable worth, and in what the New Yorker calls the “inescapably gendered aspect” of the Times’ latest scandal than I am in how that scandal confirms one of my pet theories. The theory is this: The men and women who own and operate and produce every day the world’s most important newspaper are basically children.
“What has been said of the press—that it wields power without any sense of responsibility—is also a fair enough description of the young adult,” Continetti goes on to note. “And it is to high school, I think, that the New York Times is most aptly compared.”
Definitely read the whole thing.
So what comes next after Dean Baquet era concludes? Given their alternating good cop/bad cop lead editors, the latest edition of the Weekly Standard has a terrifying preview of the Times’ future:
In 1997, when Sulzberger became publisher, the executive editor was Joseph Lelyveld, a onetime foreign correspondent regarded as a Nice Guy. Lelyveld was succeeded by the tempestuous Howell Raines (2001), who self–destructed after two years and was replaced by Bill Keller (2003), another newsroom Nice Guy. Then came Jill Abramson (2011), whose primary claim to fame had been a hostile biography of Justice Clarence Thomas, coauthored with a New Yorker writer, and a famously rude, brusque, and overbearing manner. Now that Abramson has fallen, she has been replaced by one Dean Baquet, yet another newsroom Nice Guy of no particular distinction.
This curious good cop/bad cop routine has not served the Times well, and might even have contributed to its diminishing influence. Moreover, if the Nice Guy/SOB tradition holds, it can only mean one thing: Once Dean Baquet falters, in two or three years, his obvious successor would have to be . . . Paul Krugman.
All Times editors starting with Abe Rosenthal in the mid-1960s have loathed their readers; at least Krugman would make that disdain utterly transparent.
Update: Speaking of the elite journalist, earning over half a million dollars a year(!) while living as a perpetual teenager:
Was Jill Abramson fired for her tattoos? Or for wearing a Les Miserables tank top while boxing? pic.twitter.com/vZCFDPHJsE
— Hilary Sargent (@lilsarg) May 16, 2014