Roger L. Simon

Burns Out

On my last day of a great New York vacation I am even able to laugh at the fusty local paper the NYT which is still, incredibly after the election, living in 1972. (If you’re going to be nostalgic, at least give us Paris in the Twenties.) This morning they are sporting an orange “Apocalypse Now”-style photo of what could be the Mekong River (wink, wink – we know it’s the Euphrates) with the same writer, John F. Burns, flogging the same story he has for two years now, to wit Iraq could be the next Vietnam. (I know – you’re shocked). And it’s not even a Sunday. This kind of none-news usually fits better with bagel and cream cheese. Burns, once justifiably regarded as one of our better war correspondents, seems to be suffering from “Burns out,” feeding his audience what they want to hear.

Meanwhile, the NYT’s own hometown news, the UN Oil-for-Food Scandal, is dealt with only by William Safire, the opinion writer on the edge of retirement. Why doesn’t the NYT do a little more digging on that? Not enough reporters in Manhattan? Or perhaps the story doesn’t fit their narrative?