Roger L. Simon

NYT gaffe: (some) sympathy for Bill Keller

Well, kind of… because after reading in Keith Kelly’s column today that the NYT editor had opined that “Saving the New York Times now ranks with saving Darfur as a high-minded cause” I realized that was the sort of ‘jackasstual’ statement (there’s a neologism for you) I might make in front of an audience. Keller was at Stanford for the ribbon-cutting of their new college newspaper building. [Isn’t that more the kind of thing you might say in a bar?-ed. I did note I had only some sympathy for Keller.]

Anyway, the NYT is well known to be having money problems and, good liberals that they are, is, again according to the Kelly column, going to the union to solve them and prevent yet more personnel cutbacks. I could say quelle ironie, but we’re all in the same boat – old and new media – floundering about for a financial model. We can’t gloat that the NYT publishes biased news either, because we all do that to one extent or another. It just depends on your bias. But we can, however, guffaw at the absurd pretension of the Times. It’s right there in Keller’s eye-roller about Darfur, even if the editor would claim he was jesting or exaggerating to make a point. The notion that the preservation of the New York Times is a noble cause of some sort, any more than the preservation of any other media institution, is, in a sense, an insult to the public that no longer feels them to be relevant. Like it or not, I am sorry to say that in a capitalist country we are all subject to market forces in the end, even if our current President would like to change that. In the long run he will not be able to do it. And the New York Times will have to face reality. Indeed, it already is. And Keller’s comments are just the shrieks of a dying animal. Or more exactly a wounded animal whose place in the savannah will never be what it was again.