Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

The NY Times Defines Deviancy Down

The Gray Lady won't win its 96th Pulitzer Prize with today's "expose" of John McCain's history of ethical struggles and leering innuendo about his relationship with a young woman lobbyist.

In fact, the Times' takeout is bigger news than its contents. The long leadup to publication has been a source of journalistic gossip for months, and the timing is attributed to worries about being beaten on the story by another media behemoth, the New Republic.

The days of the Pentagon papers, The New York Times vs Sullivan case that changed libel law and the universal respect for columnists like James Reston and Tom Wicker are long gone. Today we have William Kristol and this--a long rehash of McCain's political lapses, coupled with a low-fact personal smear.

In defining deviancy downward, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan might say, the Times has done more than open the door for its rabid right-wing haters. The newspaper of record has put pressure on itself to do a similar job on Barack Obama and his Antoin Rezko connections or face an election-year barrage of continuing criticism.

A long mea culpa from its Public Editor next weekend won't be enough to undo the damage.

5 comments:

Yellow Dog Don said...

The news may have been the hint of a Republican politician having an improper heterosexual relationship with an adult.

Anonymous said...

The Rezko thing was just the NYT carrying H20 for Hillary.

Here they're carrying water for the Democrats, and I say that as an Obama supporter -- unless they've got the goods and McCain did in fact cheat on his wife, which would render this justifiable and a matter of public interest.

I do think that the NYT goes into the tank for candidates sometimes. Is that cause for a lot of the hand-wringing that this post exemplifies? No, not really. It's just reality. Political reporting is unimportant. And it's not the NYT's stock-and-trade, which is protecting our democracy by keeping an eye on the gubmint (see Risen, James)

Liza said...

The New York Times has been tanking it's investigative journalism credentials for some time. It was the NYT that gave us Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and "justification" for the invasion of Iraq.

If they are trying to become a rag they are doing a good job.

The McCain article should be in the National Enquirer, if anywhere. If the NYT has something solid, they should come up with it now or apologize and explain why they did this.

Anonymous said...

liza said:

"The New York Times has been tanking it's investigative journalism credentials for some time..."

so you're a mccain fan and you actually *care* about investigative journalism. strange. seeing as how mccain sounds like dick cheney in recent weeks re: the illegal domestic spying program.

he thinks it's good politics. we'll see johnny boy. i look forward to seeing you debate obama on the constitution.

Liza said...

anon,
I'm hardly a McCain fan, not even close.

The NYT article on McCain was badly written and left a lot of people asking questions, not just me.

However, within a couple of days both the Washington Post and Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now" covered the story in greater detail and did what the NYT should have done to begin with.

Yes, I do care about investigative journalism and I do care that the NYT dissemininated lies for Bush/Cheney. And, I also believe that the NYT has irreparably damaged it's reputation. The piece on McCain was good enough for a tabloid, but not for a reputable newspaper.

BTW, I am supporting Barack Obama for president, but Dennis Kucinich is more in alignment with my political views.