Roger L. Simon

The New York Times Doesn't Read The New York Times

I am up on Bainbridge Island, some of you may have guessed from the less frequent blogging. (I shall return to LaLa on Wednesday night.) But flying up here early Sunday morning I had a few moments to indulge in a ritual that in days of yore was as much a part of my Sunday mornings as brushing my teeth – reading the New York Times. Yes, for some reason (ancestor worship? maybe I’m a secret Shintoist?) I still subscribe to the Sunday edition. So I did what I used to do, stripping the paper down to the sections I like (book review, magazine, news of the week, travel) and stuffing them in my overnight bag for the plane. Actually I was looking for an excuse to procrastinate from writing my book during the two and half hours from LAX to SeaTac.

Well,the procrastination didn’t work. After about fifteen minutes of skimming (mostly in the travel section) I chucked the whole thing out and got to my writing. Much better in the long run, of course, and definitely a sign that I should save the twenty-two bucks a month or whatever it is I am being billed for this drivel. That’s enough a year to buy an iPod. [You already have an iPod-ed. Okay, something, else. One half a Laker seat.]

Anyway, apparently I missed something “brilliant” from that day’s NYT in my rush to get to more serious work – some party line (Zabar’s zeitgeist) bloviation about Basra from James Ganz- their Baghdad bureau chief- who evidently thinks there’s something amazing about Iraqis drinking Scotch. He apparently didn’t read his own paper on April 2, 2003:

NAJAF, Iraq, April 2 – In the giddy spirit of the day, nothing could quite top the wish list bellowed out by one man in the throng of people greeting American troops from the 101st Airborne Division who marched into town today.

What, the man was asked, did he hope to see now that the Baath Party had been driven from power in his town? What would the Americans bring?

“Democracy,” the man said, his voice rising to lift each word to greater prominence. “Whiskey. And sexy!”

Around him, the crowd roared its approval.

But not the NYT. As the years wear on, their voice becomes increasingly reactionary, their profound wish for our failure greater, almost as if as the paper goes down, it wants to take us with it.

Newsweek, however, appears to be just going down by itself.