Affirmative retraction at the NYT.

A mostly political Weblog.
May 12 2003 5:43 AM

Keller in the Cellar?

High-Handed Howell meme gains steam!

Blair update: It's all about prepping Howell! "Heads should roll," says a NYT staffer., according to the N.Y. Post. How is Sulzberger going to roll his own head? Maybe there are instructions on the Web somewhere. ... But the Post emphasizes the "Raines high-handedness" factor as the theme of staff disaffection--a theme that gets Sulzberger off the hook more than the "affirmative action" explanation, which is why it's much more dangerous to Raines. ... Bill Keller (runner-up to Raines for the executive editor's job) is looking better and better, isn't he? He's sitting there on the bench, presumably ready to play. Maybe the fourth quarter belongs to him! ... Update: Raines has formed a task force, the "Siegal Committee," and also plans

a fast-track version of the process that was so helpful to me during the months before I became executive editor. At that time, I met with many groups of editors, reporters, photographers, designers, artists and researchers. ...

The collective wisdom of these groups helped prepare me for the enormous challenges of my first 18 months on the job.

It did? That's one of the questions in dispute, no? [Emphasis on bizarre, morale-crushing solipsism added.] ... I get it: If only Raines meets with enough editors and reporters, then his high-handed dismissal of editors' and reporters' advice will be better-informed!  ... 2:34 A.M.

Monday, May 12, 2003

An  e-mail posted by Andrew Sullivangets at another aspect of the Blair fiasco: editor Howell Raines' apparent habit of overruling and ignoring his subordinates (e.g., the metro editor who tried to stop Blair) while running the paper with his gut. That practice can be good (Ben Bradlee certainly went with his gut at WaPo, often to great effect). It can also be "arbitrary, unaccountable, with a dose of almost feudal personal favoritism" and not so good--if, to pick a random example, the editor is an egomaniacal Guilty Southern White Boy, running a star system based in part on loyalty, whose self-image involves him singlehandedly helping deserving African-Americans claim their rightful place in American society! ... P.S.: How would you like the assignment of serving on the Times' "task force ... to identify lessons for the newspaper," also advertised in this e-mail  to NYT staffers fromRaines, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and managing editor Gerald Boyd. After, all, it's pretty clear from the NYT's own account  that these three are the main screw-ups in the Blair saga (apart from Blair himself). What do you think the chances are that the "task force" will come back, after weeks of fact-finding, and say: "After careful deliberation, Mr. Sulzberger, we've concluded the problem is youand the two men you appointed ..."? 4:15 P.M.

The World Socialist Web Site comes to Jayson Blair's defense. They make a good point about Walter Duranty, though. ... 11:09 A.M.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

"Let's not begin to demonize our executives," says New York Times publisher "Pinch" Sulzberger. ... Hmm. Didn't Allen Dulles say that after the Bay of Pigs? ... Can't we at least have an orgy of recrimination?Newsweek's Seth Mnookin makes two points  about the Jayson Blair scandal that the NYT's self-reporting glossed over:

1) Mnookin notes Jayson Blair's personal relationship with the NYT's top two executives, Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd:

Blair's close mentoring relationship with Times managing editor Gerald Boyd, who is also black, was not explored in depth in the paper. Blair wrote Boyd's biographical sketch in the Times's internal newsletter when Boyd was named managing editor. Blair was known to brag about his close personal relationships with both Boyd and Raines, and the young writer frequently took cigarette breaks with Boyd.

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