The NYT buckles.

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

The NYT Buckles

Plus: Kausfiles floods the zone!

Daniel Drezner has posted a sophisticated exegesis of Paul Krugman. ...It's not unsympathetic -- Krugman was an adviser for Drezner's Ph.D. dissertation. ... Drezner's second point is one I've been meaning to make for some time, but he beat me to it. ... 8:54 P.M.

Friday, December 6, 2002

Always announce humiliating news on Friday: Howell Raines & Co. have apparently backed down and agreed to publish the two previously-spiked sports columns that dared to question the paper's crusading position on the Augusta National Golf Club controversy.  Mnookin has the story in Mnoosweek.. ... Question: Is Raines 1) the sort who will learn a lesson (e.g.: the paper is not an extension of him) or 2) the sort who will get revenge on his in-house critics tomorrow for humbling him today? My guess is 2. ...   3:53 P.M.

Thursday, December 5, 2002

Flood the Zone V -- "Howell's autocratic nature": Gabriel Snyder, who covered the New York media for the New York Observer, sends kf a long email that includes this:

  Paul Colford's [Daily News] story ... about Raines killing two sports columnist's dissenting views on  Augusta is simply astounding. Not the bit about the columns getting killed, mind you. But the way Raines handled the news. It is yet another episode that absolutely would not have happened if Joe Lelyveld was still running the Times.

  (Honestly, I doubt Lelyveld would have spiked columns that went against the paper's current crusade. Not that Lelyveld really had any crusades. But that's all another matter.)

  ... [U]under Lelyveld, the corporate communications office at the Times was still irrelevant and out of the loop. But, there were always high level editors -- almost never Lelyveld, though -- who would get on the phone to give on the record or anonymous quotes defending the paper. On Colford's story, for instance, there would have been someone who would have told him, "The Times values diversity among our columnist's viewpoints. These stories weren't spiked because they contradicted the editorial page." Or even, if honesty reigned, "Look, the Augusta story is near and dear to Howell's heart, and so he took a look at the columns before they went in the paper, which is, by the way,  his  right as executive editor at The Times. He didn't think they added anything new to the debate and thought it'd be a waste of space to print them." ...

  Howell tried this approach for a few months when he started his job. It was an abysmal failure. ...The signature of how The Times communicates with the world under Raines has been to stonewall. ...

  This meta-media criticism matters for a couple reasons: first, I think it explains why Howell is getting so much flak about the Times changing - not necessarily because he's editing the paper badly, because certainly complaints about the Times predate Howell's leadership -- but because it is so one-sided. ... No one is defending Howell, including himself. Second, the critics are wrong about the Times: there is something new, but it isn't Raines shift to the left, willingness to go on crusades, those are all symptomatic of the biggest shift: Howell's autocratic nature and the ways he is turning [the paper] into a one-way, subjective, idiosyncratic reflection of himself.

4:14 P.M.

Flood the Zone IV: Alert kf reader P.M. notices yet another revealing Gerald Boyd sentence, this time from his interview with WaPo's Howie Kurtz:

We're writing about discrimination at one of the nation's most prestigious golf clubs and involving one of the world's most prominent tournaments. It's an important story, economically, socially, politically, gender-wise, racially. I don't know what it means to write too much about it.

Racially? Why "racially"? What does race have to do with it, other than that the preeminent golfer, Tiger Woods, is part-black? The controversy is about sex discrimination. Boyd's list seems to reinforce the theory -- #2, below -- that he thinks Woods has some sort of special obligation to fight the Augusta National Golf Club's single-sex membership policy because he's black. But it also raises another possibility: Maybe the Augusta overcoverage it's Boyd's crusade as much as it is Raines'. Maybe somehow Boyd, as a high-achieving African-American himself, somehow feels a weird ability to call on Woods to join him in a new crusade for equality. I'm not equipped to get to the bottom of this psychoanalysis. But there seems to be something going on there -- something "racially," that is. ...P.S. If it's Boyd's crusade, that increases the likelihood that Raines will duck his own responsibility for the Augusta mess by pinning the blame on his underling. ... 4:03 P.M.



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