The New York Times wants to embed more reporters in China, but the communist government won’t process the paperwork. Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a news conference this week, first ignored a Times’ reporter’s question about the issue, then suggested that if the Grey Lady would play ball, the red tape might get cut.
This raised the righteous hackles of the Times editorial board, which penned an open letter to Mr. Xi.
The Times has no intention of altering its coverage to meet the demands of any government — be it that of China, the United States or any other nation. Nor would any credible news organization. The Times has a long history of taking on the American government, from the publication of the Pentagon Papers to investigations of secret government eavesdropping.
When you have to reach back 43 years (Pentagon Papers, 1971) to establish your institutional morality, you conjure the expression “the exception that proves the rule.” Nevertheless, the editors then stand in the stirrups of their high horse, and finish with a flourish.
Demanding that journalists tailor their coverage to suit the state only protects the powerful and those with something to hide. A confident regime that considers itself a world leader should be able to handle truthful examination and criticism.
Oddly enough, that first part could serve as the Times’ slogan: Protecting the Powerful, Since 2008.
Let me summarize the real message, in context, that the Times just sent to Xi Jinping: We won’t play ball China-style, but if you play ball NYTimes-style, we’ll both get what we want.
The context is the Times’ actual reportage and commentary about the Obama administration.
If Mr. Xi took a lesson from Mr. Obama, he would want more Times reporters, not fewer. That’s because even though NYT occasionally highlights administration malfeasance and incompetence, it’s much more likely to leap to the defense of seemingly well-intentioned Utopian centralized collectivist command structures.
In fact, President Obama should personally intervene to get a Chinese residency visa for Times’ columnist Paul Krugman — that is, if Mr. Krugman is willing to move to China, from his current duty station near Mr. Obama’s rectosigmoid junction.