Is the New York Times a liberal newspaper?
Of course it is.
[I]if you’re examining the paper’s coverage of these subjects from a perspective that is neither urban nor Northeastern nor culturally seen-it-all; if you are among the groups The Times treats as strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide (devout Catholics, gun owners, Orthodox Jews, Texans); if your value system wouldn’t wear well on a composite New York Times journalist, then a walk through this paper can make you feel you’re traveling in a strange and forbidding world.
Start with the editorial page, so thoroughly saturated in liberal theology that when it occasionally strays from that point of view the shocked yelps from the left overwhelm even the ceaseless rumble of disapproval from the right.
But opinion pages are opinion pages, and “balanced opinion page” is an oxymoron. So let’s move elsewhere. In the Sunday magazine, the culture-wars applause-o-meter chronically points left. On the Arts & Leisure front page every week, columnist Frank Rich slices up President Bush, Mel Gibson, John Ashcroft and other paladins of the right in prose as uncompromising as Paul Krugman’s or Maureen Dowd’s. The culture pages often feature forms of art, dance or theater that may pass for normal (or at least tolerable) in New York but might be pretty shocking in other places.
Same goes for fashion coverage, particularly in the Sunday magazine, where I’ve encountered models who look like they’re preparing to murder (or be murdered), and others arrayed in a mode you could call dominatrix chic. If you’re like Jim Chapman, one of my correspondents who has given up on The Times, you’re lost in space. Wrote Chapman, “Whatever happened to poetry that required rhyme and meter, to songs that required lyrics and tunes, to clothing ads that stressed the costume rather than the barely clothed females and slovenly dressed, slack-jawed, unshaven men?”
The kicker? Okrent is leaving his post as of this column. He wasn’t clear as to whether he’s coming back or not, although he did make a reference to commenting about the Times’ politics and policy coverage after the election–wow, that’ll be helpful to voters, won’t it? What a dereliction by Okrent, or by his bosses, if this departure wan’t his idea.
So much for reform at the Times. As IP noted a day or two ago, no wonder the company’s stock is scraping bottom. They won’t even listen to their own pallid reformers.
UPDATE: As a reader notes, I didn’t pay sufficient attention to Okrent’s sign-off, in which he promises to return after Labor Day. Bad on me; Reading Is Fundamental.