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« Too Litigious | Main | News Bulletin »

He Still Doesn't Get It

Howell Raines' replacement at the Gray Lady, Bill Keller, apparently impervious to irony, had some strange things to say at Johns Hopkins last week.

With blogs that "just throw opinions out there" and shows like CNN's debate program "Crossfire," newspapers are "no longer society's usual news," said Keller.

"...blogs that 'just throw opinions out there...'" You know, kinda like Paul Krugman. Or Jayson Blair.

He added that with media sources like these, and with a readership that is "seeking the journalism of's possible for the public to feel well-informed without interacting with opinions that contradict theirs."

How rich is this? This, from the land of Pauline "How could Nixon have won, I don't know anyone who voted for him?" Kael. This, in fact, would seem to be a perfect projection of the political cocooning of the left, and the Times Executive Editor remains clueless.

He picks an amusing example of how badly he and the media are being put upon:

As an example of the criticism and distrust news organizations are facing, Keller cited a story the Times ran eight days prior to the 2004 presidential election reporting that missing weapons in Iraq had been stolen by insurgents after the American invasion.

He said the article had quotes from soldiers who admitted to witnessing the theft of weapons and that the reporting was "well-backed."

However, once it was printed, Keller said a "firestorm of hostility" came down on the Times as critics attacked the paper, claiming sources were fabricated.

"Evidence in support was dismissed," he added.

Not only was the Times' credibility questioned, but its motives came under fire as well. Because the story came out close to the election, critics claimed its purpose was to undermine President George W. Bush's candidacy as part of its liberal agenda, Keller said.

According to Keller, this incident "has lived on as critical lore."

Gee, maybe because the political agenda was, and remains, transparently obvious?

This was my favorite part, though, in a feeble pretense at apology and contrition:

When examining why it was so easy to discredit such a story, Keller admitted that the "crisis of trust is self-inflicted" by recent scandals in the newspaper industry.

However, he added, "The press has never pretended to be perfect. My own paper pretty much decided to overlook the Holocaust."

Strange that he should mention that, when a much more obvious case would be the Times aiding Walter Duranty in covering up for "Uncle Joe" Stalin's earlier holocaust against the Ukrainians and others, an act for which to this day they've not returned the corresponding Pulitzer. That killing-of-Jews-and-Communists-by-Nazis thing we really should have covered, but when communists do it, well, you know what they say about omelettes and eggs. I mean, they were creating a greater and more just Soviet society, after all, can't watch the sausage being made and all that.

Could this be an explanation for his seeming insouciance about Soviet atrocities?

From 1986 to 1991 he was in Moscow as a correspondent, then bureau chief, and he won a Pulitzer Price in 1989 for his coverage of the Soviet Union.

Maybe he wouldn't want to see any ugly precedents set about handing back Pulitzers resulting from Soviet Union coverage.

Anyway, just asking.

And he wonders why his paper continues to lose credibility.

Posted by Rand Simberg at May 06, 2005 07:52 AM
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They, the MSM, will never say anything bad about Communists, they won't bite the hand they hope will eventually feed them.

As to blogs and the credibility gap, they hate the fact that we have access to sites such as your where our opinions can be voiced. To get mass viewing of our opinions we used to write to the Editorial Page of the papers and THEY decided which opinions were printed. Which again gave them all the power.

The WWW has removed them from that part of the opinion game, and giving rise to the ".. we used to be able to keep them Silent Majority." I never knew so many people in this country were as conservative as they are. Mainly because we had no forum to meet in en masse, and before the rise of talk radio we had no where to hear our side of politics.

Posted by Steve at May 6, 2005 08:41 AM

The MSM *hates* the fact that there is now a fully developed "alternative" to their product. No matter which media you choose, there's a conservative alternative to the academic/journalistic predominantly leftist view out there:

From smallest to largest audience:

Websites (like drudge and
AM Talk Radio
Fox News Network

There's a complete broadcast channel which is *unmoderated* by the leftists that populate news organizations. So there's a clear alternative.
And its working for millions of people. Personally I believe this is the *ONLY* reason that Bush was reelected especially since it depended on mobilizing unprecedented numbers of conservative voters (after all, *Kerry* got more votes than any Presidential Candidate in history, - except Bush.)

Now each source may not be "Fair and Balanced" but you can now get a balanced perspective by say, reading a few lefty blogs and a few right wing ones, if you want that.

The truth may be the first casualty of war (and politcial combat), but the Internet has set us Free.

Keep blogging and keep aiming at the sky!

Posted by Joe Pistritto at May 6, 2005 12:22 PM

Odd, this obsession with the New York Times as a leftist institution. Raines publicly declared war on the Clintons during Zippergate, when he was running the editorial page in the nineties. And then there was the case of Judith Miller, who ran the defence reporting for the Times for a decade, put out countless, barely reviewed, stories on Saddam's looming WMD threat that appeared on the front page of the Gray Lady, wrote a book with Laurie Mylroie on the topic, commandeered a detachment of troops to look for said WMD during the invasion...
and whose name (according to Google) has never appeared on this site, in any context.

Jayson Blair invented quotes for lost blonde girl stories. Who even remembers Jessica Lynch?

P.S. Pauline Kael was a movie reviewer for Conde Nast. Not clear how she was involved in suppressing the Man.

The entire concept of a MSM that does not include News Corp. is a strawman that only proves that Rupert Murdoch is a very canny business man, who knows his marks well.

Posted by Duncan Young at May 7, 2005 11:45 PM

Raines publicly declared war on the Clintons during Zippergate, when he was running the editorial page in the nineties.

Bill Clinton was a leftist? Who knew?

Pauline Kael was a movie reviewer for Conde Nast. Not clear how she was involved in suppressing the Man.

Not clear what your point is, since I never claimed that she was. She was simply illustrative of the liberal cocoon in which many New Yorkers (like Bill Keller) live, in that they apparently think that everything west of the Hudson river is howling wilderness, Walmarts and snake handlers.

Posted by Rand Simberg at May 8, 2005 12:22 PM

Her surprise is a little more understandable given Nixon won New York State itself by 14 points.
(And, of course, Nixon was thrown out of office for cheating in said election 22 months later)

Maybe a better example of a bubble is the TV bobbleheads continuing to refer to G. W. Bush as "very popular president".

Or the inpentrable screen around the hawkosphere that prevents any conception of Miller's influence on the WMD debate being entertained, for fear of puncturing a precious strawman.

Posted by Duncan Young at May 8, 2005 03:18 PM

I am indifferent to Miller's influence on the WMD debate because I am (and always was) indifferent to the WMD debate itself. I never considered it the only, or even the primary reason to remove Saddam, nor did the administration. The only reason that it developed such a high focus was because of Powell's foolish insistence on attempting to get further (and unneeded) concurrence from the Security Council. Talk about strawmen.

Posted by Rand Simberg at May 8, 2005 03:55 PM

Bush said repeately if Saddam disarmed there was no need for war. Wolfewitz told the Senate that the humanitatian case was not sufficent to go to war. Cheney's initial speeches nearly exclusivly concerned Iraq's nuclear potential in light of 9/11. Rice wrote about "mushroom clouds" in the NYT more than four months before Powell's presentation.

If democracy promotion was the primary agenda for invading Iraq, why did the Administration on plan for a short humanitarian crisis following the invasion (to the extent that they did any planning at all)? Why were the first cut of the elections a highly unrepresentitive caucus plan until Sistani intervened?

I also recall your little decision matrix in the weeks leading up to the war that based its cost estimates for not going to war on a WMD strike on the United States.

But that is beside the point because Miller represents a clear case of the 'hermatically liberal' New York Times promoting the Administration's public line. Indeed, Miller is on the record as being defiantly proud of the fact that she was engaged in stenography for the White House-something she was never rebuked for by Keller.

The only reason that it developed such a high focus was because of Powell's foolish insistence on attempting to get further (and unneeded) concurrence from the Security Council.
Mythology. Congress insisted on a direct link to WMD and terrorism in its legislation giving approval. The public would not have approved without a WMD and UN linkage.

Posted by Duncan Young at May 8, 2005 05:01 PM

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