The NYT buckles.

A mostly political Weblog.
Dec. 6 2002 4:03 PM

The NYT Buckles

Plus: Kausfiles floods the zone!

(Continued from Page 1)

Flood the Zone III: For once, Howie Kurtz is late to a press zeitgeist story. But good Shafer, Jones ("appalling") quotes. ... 3:35 P.M.

Flood the Zone II: Will the New York Times, after righteously calling on CBS to drop the Masters, refuse to itself profit from the tournament by selling Masters-related advertisements?   Sneaking Suspicions is on the case. ...[Of course they'll sell ads. They believe in the "strict separation" of business and editorial --ed. Another one of those convenient ethical rules!] ... 3:09 P.M.

Flood the Zone I: Alert kf reader J.L. notices another revealing sentence in that wonderfully awful and defensive Boyd memo, a copy of which was recently requested by the Smithsonian Institution:

"Part of our strict separation between the news and editorial pages entails not attacking each other."

A real "strict separation," J.L. notes, would "require that either side be free to say whatever it likes about the other." .. How convenient that the Times' "strict" ethical rules always somehow work to prevent criticism of the Times itself!  But in this case the paper's internal ideology ("Call it journalism") is so strong it unthinkingly perverts the meaning of plain English words:

SEPARATION = SUPPRESSION

It's Orwellian, I tell you! 2:59 P.M.

Backfill: N.Y. Times managing editor Gerald Boyd has made disastrous attempts at damage control  before ... 3:17 A.M.

The weirdest and most telling part of NYT managing editor Gerald Boyd's damage-multiplying memo is this passage:

Augusta's restricted membership policies have been legitimate news for decades. With the ascendance of Tiger Woods and the campaign by the National Council of Women's Organizations, the club has become an inescapable story.

What does the "ascendance of Tiger Woods" have to do with making the story of the Augusta National Golf Club's men-only membership policy "inescapable"? Is Woods a woman? Is he the first champion to oppose the same-sex admission policy? .. Two possible rationales suggest themselves: 1) Woods dominates the sport, and opponents of the Augusta club's policy figured that if they could get him to boycott the Masters that would give them leverage they haven't had before; 2) Boyd feels it's somehow obvious that because Woods is part African-American he has an obligation to lead the fight against sex discrimination. ... But reason #1 means that any time a left-wing interest group thinks it might get a big celebrity to go to bat for it the group's cause automatically becomes big news. Bill Gates is really powerful too. If I could somehow get Bill Gates to come out for a universal health care system -- and to promise to sell no more software until Congress agrees --- that would give the idea a big boost. But my wish doesn't make the health care story more "inescapable." ... #2 is the likeliest candidate. But there's something disturbing about putting a special moral obligation on Woods to fight single-sex membership policies simply because he could have been the victim of single-race membership policies. For one thing, that argument assumes what the debate is supposed to be all about -- it assumes that sex is the same as race for membership purposes, so if Woods is against one kind of discrimination he has to be adamantly against the other. Is there a clearer example of how Boyd's -- and the NYT's -- policy position is built into their very definition of "news"? ("Call it journalism.") ... It's also mildly offensive to expect Woods to carry a greater moral burden than anyone else just because he's black. Didn't America end race discrimination so people like Woods could be treated the same as everyone else? (NPR vs. NYT: A Scott Simon NPR commentary makes this point.) ... If Boyd's memo is an example of his idea of "logic," I really want to read the columns he killed because "the logic did not meet our standards." ...  2:06 A.M.

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