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 affirmation…it’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.