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Is It Because Conservatives Can't Sing?

The UK Guardian reports on the New York Times' decision to hire U2's Bono as an occasional columnist for 2009.

U2's Bono is the latest columnist to be hired by New York's esteemed newspaper. . . . the former Nobel Peace Prize nominee will pen between six and 10 articles over the course of 2009.

Bono will wax lyrical (or actually, less lyrical than normal) on the topics of Africa, poverty and Frank Sinatra, Rosenthal said.

The article also quotes Rosenthal suggesting he'd like to publish other celebrity opinions and commentary as well. And then there's this tidbit:

Though rockers and pop stars are welcome, another group faces an uphill battle on to the New York Times' editorial page - conservatives. "[US Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice is a particularly bad op-ed writer," Rosenthal said. However, the problem doesn't end there. "The problem with conservative columnists," Rosenthal said, "is that many of them lie in print." And they can't sing.

Constantin:
Lying in print = disqualification from NYT editorial page (in theory).

Lying in print = welcome to the NYT newsroom, Jason Blair.
10.24.2008 1:18pm
Terrivus:
Rosenthal's obviously fishing for readers/publicity given the massive slump in NYT's viewership and revenue.

But aside from that, the problem with conservative columnists is that, well, there are few thoughtful, educated conservatives left. They've all been driven out by the anti-intellectualism of the Bush years and today's Republican party. David Brooks himself wrote about this a couple weeks ago in the NYT. See here. What remains are hacks, loudmouths, and, yes, occasionally liars -- or, at least, writers who haven't done their homework or can't be bothered to do so.
10.24.2008 1:21pm
Calculated Risk:
Constantin,

Your point would make sense if the NY Times knew of and approved of the lies by Jason Blair.

I think you knew your point didn't make any sense, but you just wanted to bash on the New York Times. Your point is more emotional than logical.
10.24.2008 1:22pm
mj:
"The problem with conservative columnists," Rosenthal said, "is that many of them lie in print.""

Unsaid: And at the NYT this right is reserved for the news reporters.
10.24.2008 1:23pm
ShelbyC:

Your point is more emotional than logical

Kinda like Rosenthal's point
10.24.2008 1:24pm
Cornellian (mail):
Celebrities in general isn't a good idea, but Bono has worked long and hard to establish himself as a serious thinker on African poverty and he's hardly a partisan Democrat on the issue. He's praised President Bush's efforts on that issue on more than one occasion. Heck, Bono is very likely to be less partisan than, say Krugman or Kristol.
10.24.2008 1:25pm
Calculated Risk:

But aside from that, the problem with conservative columnists is that, well, there are few thoughtful, educated conservatives left.


That is hardly true. There are plenty of conservatives who are educated and thoughtful who are not columnists but easily could be columnists. There are also plenty of conservative columnists who are thoughtful, but who have been viciously criticized by some of the zombies on the right when they called McCain out on his "Country Last" choice of Sarah Palin, who is completely unqualified and unready to be President. (And to say Sarah Palin is not qualified to be President is not an insult. I don't consider myself or most people to be qualified.)

The New York Times has only a few conservative columnists. David Brooks, who is rather moderate. Or the guest columns by people like Greg Mankiw. And that is all good. It is the mirror image of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, which tends to be conservative.

I am sure that, if they wanted to, the powers that be at the New York Times could fill its editorial page with educated and thoughtful conservative voices instead of educated and thoughtful liberal voices. I am glad they do not.
10.24.2008 1:30pm
Calculated Risk:
ShelbyC,

I agree.
10.24.2008 1:30pm
Constantin:
Constantin,

Your point would make sense if the NY Times knew of and approved of the lies by Jason Blair.

I think you knew your point didn't make any sense, but you just wanted to bash on the New York Times. Your point is more emotional than logical.


Thanks for the free couch session. I'll pay you in shares of NYT stock.

NYT didn't care if Blair was a good reporter or a liar when they promoted him--he looked the part and carried the party line.
10.24.2008 1:31pm
Bruce_M (mail) (www):
As a libertarian who hates liberals and hates conservatives, I think it is abundantly clear that today's conservatives do lie in print (and in 'voice') far more than today's liberals. That has not always been the case. The modern conservative platform is based on lies. This was not the case back in the Barry Goldwater days.

Note that Obama is to the right of the Kaiser when compared to Barry "Mr. Conservative" Goldwater. Ditto for Hillary. Modern "conservatives" in the Bush/Cheney era are a whole new creature. There's nothing conservative about them. They advocate nothing short of a fascist theocracy. This is why I don't vote republican anymore. I'd give my left nut to have Barry Goldwater as president (I'm a "Goldwater liberal").
10.24.2008 1:33pm
Calculated Risk:
Constantin,

If the New York Times did not care if Blair was a liar, why did it fire him when it found out?

And yeah, you really should spend some time on the couch, talking to a shrink. Especially if, contrary to my charitable assumption, you really do believe this stuff regardless of the evidence. I assumed you were aware of the truth, but were being emotional. But your further arguments suggest instead that you are so emotional that you cannot even comprehend the truth or deal with basic facts. That would make you delusional.
10.24.2008 1:35pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
You can joke about Jayson Blair (and Judith Miller, whom conservatives rarely mention-- I wonder why?), but actually I know exactly what Rosenthal is talking about-- this has been exposed in the Bill Kristol experiment.

Basically, there are many conservatives who don't take seriously the standard conventions of journalistic ethics, because they believe their story about the media not actually having any ethics and just being a bunch of liberals out to get conservatives. As a result, they don't obey principles such as that you are only supposed to put facts in that are supported by actual reporting and confirmed by multiple sources, and when writing an opinion piece, you are supposed to state your honest opinion and not whatever it is will best help your cause and party even if you don't believe in it.

There are, of course, conservatives who do play by these rules-- Bill Safire was one of them, and he was the house conservative at the NY Times for decades. Rosenthal's father was another. But they are hard to find in the current media environment, because movement conservativism is really more interested in discrediting the media than participating in journalism.
10.24.2008 1:36pm
taney71:
Calculated Risk:

I believe NYT was forced to fire him when the story broke. Its not like they did much fact checking beforehand and said, "Hey, Blair you know we have to let you go because you are lying in your articles."
10.24.2008 1:38pm
Calculated Risk:
Dilan Esper,

Maybe your analysis is correct regarding some conservatives. But to say you cannot even find an intellectually honest conservative to write a column is taking that thought too far, don't you think?
10.24.2008 1:38pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
What do you expect from the Guardian?

I know that Samizdata doesn't have a favorable opinion...
10.24.2008 1:38pm
Calculated Risk:
taney71,

Who exactly "forced" the NY Times to fire him?
10.24.2008 1:39pm
Kevin P. (mail):

... because [conservatives] believe their story about the media not actually having any ethics and just being a bunch of liberals out to get conservatives.


It's not just conservatives. I'm libertarian and I believe this to be the case. So do a very large number of people.

Data point:

Most Voters Say News Media Wants Obama to Win



Voters overwhelmingly believe that the media wants Barack Obama to win the presidential election. By a margin of 70%-9%, Americans say most journalists want to see Obama, not John McCain, win on Nov. 4.
...
In the current campaign, Republicans, Democrats and independents all feel that the media wants to see Obama win the election. Republicans are almost unanimous in their opinion: 90% of GOP voters say most journalists are pulling for Obama. More than six-in-ten Democratic and independent voters (62% each) say the same.
10.24.2008 1:41pm
Sarcastro (www):
Boy I hate how the Times said people who don't agree with their politics lie all the time!

In unrelated news, the Times lies all the time!
10.24.2008 1:42pm
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
the level of delusion i've seen the last 6 months is remarkable.
10.24.2008 1:42pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Glenn Reynolds, or Eugene Volokh, (or both!) would be infinitely more interesting, and more honest, than the current crop of Times columnists, right or left. And Frank ("raucous and insistent cries of treason, terrorist and kill him," "uninhibited slinging of racial epithets") Rich is "honest?" Is that in the Bizarro world?
10.24.2008 1:44pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
The allegation came from the NYT's Andrew Rosenthal - but the Guardian reporter didn't challenge his claim. Two peas in a pod.
10.24.2008 1:45pm
LN (mail):
Yeah, it's amazing how conservatives were all upset about Judith Miller. Bullshit stories in the NYT to build up the case for war -- oh the perfidy!

Related question: Adler's co-blogger Jonah Goldberg has a LA Times op-ed spot. Is that part of a liberal conspiracy to make people think that conservatives are morons?
10.24.2008 1:49pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Ironically, Bono is a fan of GWB. I wonder if he will write a column in the NYT praising GWB for his support of Africa. You think?
10.24.2008 1:52pm
mga (mail):
Oh yes, conservatives lie in print all the time. In contrast to Paul Krugman, who would never dream of printing a falsehood that might damage Bush. Any newspaper that publishes Krugman twice a week has no standing to talk about conservative lies.
10.24.2008 1:53pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I agree with Eugene as a columnist, his posts here are excellent and scrupulously honest, on an intellectual basis (i.e., he doesn't misstate or distort the other side's positions, to set up "straw man" attacks). Unfortunately, I do not have the same view of Glenn Reynolds, who I will concede is smart.

My favorite conservative Times Columnist was Bill Safire. I would bring him out of retirement. Or, I would offer a slot to Peggy Noonan, who writes columns sometimes for the WSJ. She is an excellent writer, with very perceptive analysis.
10.24.2008 1:55pm
Calculated Risk:
DavidBernstein,

I think David, you have to admit that you are not the most disinterested observer in suggesting that Eugene Volokh would be "infinitely more interesting" that the current crop of Times columnists.

If I were on the editorial board of the NY Times, I would not give Eugene Volokh a job there. If I was on the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, I would consider it. Maybe. Mr. Volokh might make a better law professor than columnist.
10.24.2008 1:58pm
Constantin:
Constantin,

If the New York Times did not care if Blair was a liar, why did it fire him when it found out?

And yeah, you really should spend some time on the couch, talking to a shrink. Especially if, contrary to my charitable assumption, you really do believe this stuff regardless of the evidence. I assumed you were aware of the truth, but were being emotional. But your further arguments suggest instead that you are so emotional that you cannot even comprehend the truth or deal with basic facts. That would make you delusional.


Whatever gets you through the day is fine with me, Chief. We're all crazy, and the NYT ship isn't taking on any water at all. They'll keep playing it down the middle in the meantime.
10.24.2008 2:00pm
Terrivus:
Peggy Noonan... words fail me. She's been repeating the same warmed-over conservatism for nearly 30 years. She's an excellent writer (as she should be, being a former speechwriter), but she offers nothing in the way of insight, ideas, or anything new or exciting. Compare her to someone like, say, Eugene, who really brings a number of different concepts to the table with his writing. Noonan's time is past.

As for "perceptive analysis," remember her column from about a month ago, shortly after the GOP convention, where she assumed it was all over for Democrats? Powerful insight, indeed.
10.24.2008 2:02pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Who said I'm disinterested? But if you compare, say, academics as columnists, I'll stack Eugene up against Krugman any day. Actually, I have to admit that I find all of the Times's columnists, including the conservatives, to be bores. Friedman was interesting before he became a celebrity.
The Washington Post has a much more interesting group.
10.24.2008 2:03pm
Calculated Risk:

Whatever gets you through the day is fine with me, Chief. We're all crazy, and the NYT ship isn't taking on any water at all. They'll keep playing it down the middle in the meantime.


Did I say that the NY Times plays it down the middle? I certainly do not believe this is the case with respect to their editorial pages. It is mostly a liberal page, with some conservative opinion thrown in here and there. And I think that is fine.

Once again, I will note that you are responding primarily with emotion, suggesting that I said something I did not say in order to have a straw man to attack so you can leave with a little more emotional satisfaction.
10.24.2008 2:03pm
TerrencePhilip:
I recall how Spy magazine used to refer to Andrew's dad as "Abe 'I'm Writing As Bad As I Can' Rosenthal."

And lies in print concern them, eh? Have they returned Walter Duranty's Pulitzer yet?
10.24.2008 2:06pm
Calculated Risk:
DavidBernstein,

I will say the Eugene Volokh would be a better writer on First Amendment issues than Krugman. But, I am rather certain that Krugman is a better writer on economic issues.

It shouldn't surprise us that people would write better in their area of expertise.

Overall, I think that economics is more socially significant than the precise nuances of First Amendment law. (And this does not mean I think that economics is more important than freedom of expression. It means that I think economic issues are more important than the precise and fluctuating nuances of the First Amendment.)

So, overall, I definitely disagree. I prefer Krugman over Volokh. And, if I had to have a conservative take Krugman's position, I would prefer Mankiw over Volokh. This is not an insult. It is a reflection of what I think is most interesting and important.
10.24.2008 2:08pm
byomtov (mail):
Glenn Reynolds, or Eugene Volokh, (or both!) would be infinitely more interesting, and more honest,


I agree Eugene Volokh could be an interesting columnist, but Glenn Reynolds? That's ridiculous.
10.24.2008 2:09pm
CB55 (mail):
Time to get over it and move on. The most popular and best box office names in the arts and entertainment (including Nobel prize winners) also happen to be Left and their number far out number those on the Right.

Republicans are hardy people not given to endless self-examination of the sort that we liberal elitists practice (Why did I agree to come to believe in Free Trade? Why did I allow that the man with several houses knows more about what is good for me than the man who has to worry about one house? Should I have have concerns about torture or being jailed before boarding a plane?), and they stick with a position once taken and don't admire people who waver and hedge their bets and cover their butts. I do not know much about Mozart, Picasso, Shakespeare or Bach, but I doubt that they were the types that would be welcomed at a GOP convention.

Liberals can never be too happy. They are given to some deep seated anxiety about being human. They have more than just a passing interest in health care. McCain will tell you off camera that if the state leaves health care alone people and the market will ensure that the problem is solved. If you need to have two jobs to keep your insurance you best have two jobs or become an investor. A Liberal would want him to talk about all of the state benefits he gets while being married to a woman that has more money than the pope. They would go one and on about justice, fairness, government screw ups, business red tape, equity and suffering and children born defective like Palin Junior. Liberals turn things like that into novels, music and TV shows, but Cons just move on. They will will tell them to take a stress pill, stop crying and have a diet coke. Cons do not see paradoxes, irony, contradictions, or ambiguity which is the stuff that keeps Libs up all night and the stuff that never calms them for any sense of unity on any subject (Cons are like the NFL. They got rules, owners and a play book. Libs, well they got players and no team unity not even during a fire).
10.24.2008 2:22pm
Sigivald (mail):
Christopher Cooke: Glenn Reynolds is a "conservative" now?

The term must be pretty astoundingly elastic, then - are you using it merely as shorthand for "supporter of recent US foreign policy"? Because unless you are, I see no way it can be substantiated, with any traditional definition of "conservative" in American politics.

Bruce_M: I'm also libertarian (but not A Libertarian), and I don't see any reason to believe you're right. Can you name examples? That is, reason to believe not that some conservative pundits have lied, but that the proportion is higher than that on the left?

Calculated Risk: I'd be fine with the Times being - as it is - predominantly left in its editorials if they admitted it frankly.

But the Ombudsman who admitted they "were a liberal paper" has been gone for years now, hasn't he? And the current people running the paper pretend to be neutral, as far as I know.

That is a problem. I don't mind The Nation and Mother Jones and The National Review and The Weekly Standard... because none of them pretend to not have a distinct (and admittedly partisan) political viewpoint

The Times still pretends not to.
10.24.2008 2:23pm
David Warner:
I'd vote for the Instapundit, though he's got the political inverse of Laura Bush whispering in his ear around election time, so things get a bit warped that way. What's with the Insta-hate anyway? Never did get that.

He's more pro-science, pro-choice, and pro-gay than large chunks of the Left, yet he's still somehow beyond the pale. Beats me.

McArdle would beat anything NYT has now. She's been tearing it up on the financial crisis.
10.24.2008 2:23pm
Ben P:
RE: Educated and thoughtful conservatives

I'm not necessarily sure that it's "educated and thoughtful conservatives" that matter.

There's certainly something to be gained by having editorial coverage that's considered "thoughtful," but ultimately that means absolutely nothing if everyone barely reads the thoughtful coverage and then picks up the tabloid. The goal of the NYT, just like the goal of Fox, CNN, the WSJ and all other media outlets is to be profitable.

Rush Limbaugh is almost the antithesis of a "thoughtful conservative." But in creating a product to sell (conservative talk radio), the man is a genius.

Whether a column is thoughtful is generally going to be secondary to whether or not any extra people are picking up a copy of the newspaper to read what the columnist has to say.
We have the example that Rosenthal used, Condoleezza Rice. this is the only column I can find that she's published in the NYT.

I don't doubt that Dr. Rice is very smart and probably pretty thoughtful in her policy.

However, while I don't claim to be a skilled writing critic of any kind. My reaction is that column is not terribly well written. If I'm skimming the newspaper I'm likely to stop reading that halfway through.
10.24.2008 2:26pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I will defend my choice of Peggy Noonan (which is odd, considering I am a liberal Democrat).

First, she is an excellent writer (no real disagreements). This, to me, is important and is something she shares with Safire. A columnist should be entertaining, and well-written. I think that is why Condi Rice has been vetoed (she is not a very good writer).

Second, Noonan is a conservative, but she is not some shill for the Republican party (my problem with Kristol and Rove). So she is more inclined to be honest about the issues, e.g., she wrote a recent column critical of Sarah Palin for hiding from the media. I agree that Noonan's predictions are often wrong, and, depending on what she writes, her analysis is not always insightful. This is true of all columnists. For example, Krugman often writes with little new or original insight on issues outside of his area of expertise --e.g., foreign policy----but his economic columns are first rate.
10.24.2008 2:29pm
titus32:
That is such a revealing quote. I don't think it's a parody, but it reminds me of the Alec Baldwin / Sarah Palin skit in which Baldwin objects to SNL for allowing "those people" to be on the show. The other side isn't just wrong, they're evil; our side is good. It's in the DNA.
10.24.2008 2:32pm
Houston Lawyer:
If the Times can't even find an educated and thoughtful liberal to write for it, how would you expect them to find a conservative with similar credentials.

Was Barbara Streisand unavailable?
10.24.2008 2:33pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I find Noonan to be a bore, and her columns could generally be half as long as say just as much. She still writes like a speechwriter, not a columnist.
10.24.2008 2:34pm
Blue:
"standard conventions of journalistic ethics"

That's an unintentionally amusing phrase.
10.24.2008 2:37pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Why do conservatives care what NYT editors say about them?

I am happy when the "objective" mask slips.

I have no respect for any "conservative" who writes for the Times. I don't read them and care nothing about what they think.

If you lie down with dogs etc.

So, I don't care if they publish no "conservative" at all.
10.24.2008 2:53pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Eugene V. would make a fantastic columnist, and I agree that a smart libertarian would make a much better right (if you believe libertarianism to be right-wing, which I don't) voice than the hackish and proven liar Kristol. Instaignorance, not so much.
10.24.2008 2:54pm
CJColucci:
I'd be fine with the Times being - as it is - predominantly left in its editorials if they admitted it frankly.

What does it even mean to "admit" the leaning of your editorial page? Last I looked, the Times's editorial page was filled with editorials. They're right there, for anyone to read. When the Times takes an editorial position, the position it takes is no secret. Hiding one's editorial position rather defeats the purpose. If your complaint is that, on a wide variety of issues, their stance is predictable (and if it is predictable, it's predictable because you have read the editorials), and you don't like it, fine. But what does "admitting" have to do with anything?
10.24.2008 3:04pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Instapundit columns are considerably different from his daily blog.

I like his daily blog because it largely consists of links to a lot of interesting people, news and analysis, including things that he may disagree with. I get a lot of exposure to a lot of different material, including lots of stuff unrelated to politics, such as science and technology.

The daily blog does not contain a lot of original content. Glenn tends to write articles outside his blog, and they tend to be interesting, well thought out, even handed and generally well written.

Here is an oldie but goodie: Paper Ballots

Here is another one unrelated to politics.
10.24.2008 3:11pm
DG:
Some folks are down on Rove, but he's actually an interesting columnist, if you read him the right way. He's a brilliant political tactician and when he talks about the Obama campaign (for instance) if you read between the lines, you can almost hear him thinking "man, what I could do if I had that guy". Read past Rove's views and you get to interesting material.

Krugman would be great if he would stick to what he knows so well - economics. But he goes off the deep end on politics.

Glenn Reynolds and Eugene Volokh are conservatives? They might vote republican once in a while, but not-leftist does not mean conservative. Foreign policy hawk does not mean conservative.
10.24.2008 3:13pm
Kevin P. (mail):
In any case, by his own account, Glenn Reynolds is not a conservative.
10.24.2008 3:14pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
"standard conventions of journalistic ethics" That's an unintentionally amusing phrase.

You know, people who have no idea how many discussions there are in major journalistic organizations about ethics and when you should run a story and whether the coverage is fair have no business going off half-cocked in this way.
10.24.2008 3:16pm
hawkins:
The David Brooks editorial linked to above is spot on.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/10/opinion/10brooks.html
10.24.2008 3:17pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
More generally, I have no problem with the NY Times hiring ANY conservative columnist as long as the person is committed to the journalistic enterprise-- and that means any fact that is reported in the column is confirmable either from common knowledge or solid reporting that includes confirmation from two sources, and it further means that the columnist must state his or her opinion even if it isn't what the Republican (or the Democratic) Party wants to hear and might harm the movement or get ideological allies ticked off at the columnist.

It isn't an issue of Karl Rove or Bill Kristol personally-- it's an issue of whether they (or anyone else) are willing to follow the rules.
10.24.2008 3:19pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I suspect that the folks harshing on Glenn Reynolds have never read his columns, as opposed to his blog.
10.24.2008 3:22pm
Kevin P. (mail):

Dilan Esper:
...and that means any fact that is reported in the column is confirmable either from common knowledge or solid reporting that includes confirmation from two sources


From Paul Krugman's NYT column of October 12, 2008:

I also wonder how much the Femafication of government under President Bush contributed to Mr. Paulson's fumble. All across the executive branch, knowledgeable professionals have been driven out; there may not have been anyone left at Treasury with the stature and background to tell Mr. Paulson that he wasn't making sense.


I have emphasized the "fact" above. This fact is not confirmable from common knowledge. Where are the two sources that confirm it? At the most, this can only be Krugman's opinion, but he is presenting it as fact here.

Paul Krugman printed columns contain lathered BDS that get a free pass from the NYT.
10.24.2008 3:28pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):
In any case, by his own account, Glenn Reynolds is not a conservative.

If it looks like a conservative, and it barks like a conservative, and it repeatedly links to and parrots people who insist they are conservatives, then it is a conservative.
10.24.2008 3:33pm
David Warner:
DG,

"He's a brilliant political tactician"

All tactics, no strategy. I believe that ground is already well-tilled.
10.24.2008 3:35pm
Malvolio:
On Condi's column:
Eleven weeks after the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution demanding yet again that Iraq disclose and disarm all its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs, it is appropriate to ask, "Has Saddam Hussein finally decided to voluntarily disarm?" Unfortunately, the answer is a clear and resounding no.
Rice is brilliant woman, but obviously no columnist. She starts with a 41-word-long sentence. And not a good one: irrelevant adverbs ("yet", "unanimously" -- they are pertinent to an argument she isn't making), the passive voice, the bureaucrat's beloved "appropriate". The next sentence is shorter but at only nine words, it's still overlong and dull.

I think Dr Vololk would also make an unpopular columnist, albeit for a completely different reason: the fair-mindedness and rigor for which he is admired here simply wouldn't go over with the public at large. I think the average reader would take it as pedantry.

Newspapers are ultimately show-business. Just as movie stars have to put "butts in the seats", newspaper writers have to catch and keep readers. Everything else is pretty irrelevant.
10.24.2008 3:51pm
KeithK (mail):
CB55, you've only got it half right. It's not that liberals see all the problems in the world and conservatives just don't care. People of all political stripes see the issues and problems in society. Conservatives see them and in many cases accept that it's the nature of the thing. Human beings and their societies are flawed. Make the best of it, put processes in place to minimize it and move on. Liberals, on the other hand, are convinced that we can fix all the problems in the world if we just try hard enough. So the fact that we still have these problems is a failure of leadership. That's what keep them up at night.

See Thomas Sowell's Conflict of Visions, which comes up in another thread.
10.24.2008 3:57pm
CB55 (mail):
KeithK:

Thomas Sowell reads like tough love with KY Jelly. He is a man given to drink diet Libertarian cola with a big Mac. Speculation with out good prediction and verification is either bad or soft science.

You are right about that. Cons do not stay up at night worrying about the health care of the help, the laid off worker, but Libs often do.
10.24.2008 4:20pm
MarkField (mail):

I suspect that the folks harshing on Glenn Reynolds have never read his columns, as opposed to his blog.


Reading his blog is a pretty good way to discourage reading his columns.
10.24.2008 4:34pm
David Warner:
CB55,

"the help"

So, how are things going back in the 70's, CB55?
10.24.2008 4:38pm
CB55 (mail):
David Warner:

4 details see Help Wanted ads of your daily paper or the Internet.
10.24.2008 4:44pm
pmorem (mail):
It seems to me that the NYT is seen as a publicly traded company that is in the business of making money, and that libertarians generally consider its objectives to be based on business interests.

That is not correct.

It is a close-held company with publicly traded equity. The majority of its directors serve at the pleasure of the Sulzburgers. The interests of the equity holders may or may not be relevant.

Looking at the stock performance over the last couple years, if I had owned common stock in 2006, I'd probably be talking to a lawyer.
10.24.2008 4:52pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I have emphasized the "fact" above. This fact is not confirmable from common knowledge.

Actually, it is. (E.g., the fired US attorneys, John DiUlio, Christine Todd Whitman, Jack Goldsmith, Joe Wilson, various people in the administration positions dealing with science issues, and all sorts of people at the mid-level deputy level.)
10.24.2008 5:00pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I really doubt the label of "newspaper columnist" means anything anymore. There was a time when the printed media was the only place opinion could be given widespread circulation, and those who held the coveted spots had considerable power.

Thankfully, those days are now behind us. The web offers us all sorts of people who write and think just as well as any columnist paid by a paper. The initial posts of many of the conspirators here are far better then the product of newspaper columnists. The coulminists had a good run, but are now being pushed aside.

The web also offerd a level of expertise that no newspaper's columnists can match. Just ask Dan Rather.
10.24.2008 5:08pm
Dave N (mail):
Dilan Esper,

That is a particularly weak argument. Frank Rich makes an unhinged argument. Yes, people have resigned during the Bush Presidency. It's only 7 1/2 years old right now. Lots of people have left for a variety of reason. But Rich wants to imply that there is no one with any degree of competency left. And that is just a stupid argument for him to make, not based on fact.
10.24.2008 5:09pm
Prosecutorial Indiscretion:
If it looks like a conservative, and it barks like a conservative, and it repeatedly links to and parrots people who insist they are conservatives, then it is a conservative.


So conservatives are rabidly pro-science and rabidly pro-choice? That will come as a surprise to pretty much everybody.
10.24.2008 5:16pm
David Warner:
CB55,

"4 details see Help Wanted ads of your daily paper or the Internet."

As I would direct you to the other advertisements in the Radical Chic NYT. The Republicans are the help these days. Or are you joining Frank in claiming that they don't care about themselves?
10.24.2008 5:29pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
That is a particularly weak argument. Frank Rich makes an unhinged argument. Yes, people have resigned during the Bush Presidency. It's only 7 1/2 years old right now. Lots of people have left for a variety of reason. But Rich wants to imply that there is no one with any degree of competency left. And that is just a stupid argument for him to make, not based on fact.

That's not what the quote I was responding to said. It said two things:

1. All across the administration, reality-based people had been driven out (a true fact).

AND

2. Because of that, there MAY not have been anyone left at Treasury with the power and knowledge to get the right economic information to the President to address the coming crisis (a plausible opinion with a dash of hyperbole).

Neither of those things is anything close to the sort of BS that Rosenthal is referencing from conservatives.
10.24.2008 5:45pm
Blue:
Mr. Esper, one doesn't need to watch a sausage being made to know it tastes rotten. I have absolutely no confidence that a deep, meaningful discussion of ethics conducted between professional journalists in "major journalism organizations" whose members agree 90 percent to 10 percent with a specific political party and political philosophy will do anything but be hacks for that ideology.

Ethics in the newspaper industry are simply about creating a fig leaf to cover the political agenda.
10.24.2008 6:54pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Mr. Esper, one doesn't need to watch a sausage being made to know it tastes rotten. I have absolutely no confidence that a deep, meaningful discussion of ethics conducted between professional journalists in "major journalism organizations" whose members agree 90 percent to 10 percent with a specific political party and political philosophy will do anything but be hacks for that ideology.

Blue, you simply do not know what you are talking about. You are making wild assumptions about people you have apparently never met, based solely on what you read in the paper (or more likely, what right-wing news outlets, pundits, and politicians TELL you about what appears in the paper).

I have this suggestion for you-- go to nytimes.com and search for "public editor", and read some of those columns. You will learn that journalistic ethics is something that is taken VERY seriously at the New York Times, and they agonize over being fair to all points of view. If only your side cared about being fair to the Times and journalists.
10.24.2008 10:20pm
David Warner:
Dilan,

From this article:

"Their constant support for Democratic views has nothing to do with bias, in their minds, but reflects the fact that Democrats just happen to be right about everything."

Of course, that could actually be the case, which is the difficulty with assembling an extremely homogeneous group of people, then attempting to be fair. Just as seeing through one eye robs one of depth perception, no matter how hard one tries to see.

We're a generation trained to see everything through the lens of diversity. I don't know that we could see otherwise if we tried. Would a justice system be fair which assigned a member of the DA's office to act as defense counsel?
10.25.2008 12:59am
David Warner:
Dilan,

For what its worth, I'd prefer cultural diversity over ideological, and both over party affiliation.
10.25.2008 1:01am
Elliot123 (mail):
"You know, people who have no idea how many discussions there are in major journalistic organizations about ethics and when you should run a story and whether the coverage is fair have no business going off half-cocked in this way."

So what? Maybe they talk a lot, maybe they talk a little. What does it matter how much they talk to each other?

"You will learn that journalistic ethics is something that is taken VERY seriously at the New York Times, and they agonize over being fair to all points of view."

Oh! The agony! Makes you wonder about the agony of running a front page story about former McCain employees thinking he may have had an improper relationship nine years ago. And the agony of not running the story of John Edwards caught in a hotel with his mistress. Oh! The agony of the courageous staff of the NYT!
10.25.2008 2:19am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
elliot:

Makes you wonder about the agony of running a front page story about former McCain employees thinking he may have had an improper relationship nine years ago.


Do you think Byron York and National Review went through "agony" before deciding to print a story about McCain and Iseman, where they quoted a named "former top McCain campaign official" who described the Iseman situation as "alarming?"

Or was it OK for them to do that, since it was back in February, when the GOP establishment was still hoping for a miracle that would make their nominee Anyone But McCain?
10.25.2008 9:27am
MarkField (mail):

Would a justice system be fair which assigned a member of the DA's office to act as defense counsel?


Here in CA, a very high percentage of our state judges come from the DA's office. Putting aside the problems this creates for civil litigators (we have to educate them on the simplest points), one might wonder about the fairness of the decisions made on the criminal side.
10.25.2008 11:56am
Elliot123 (mail):
"Do you think Byron York and National Review went through "agony" before deciding to print a story about McCain and Iseman, where they quoted a named "former top McCain campaign official" who described the Iseman situation as 'alarming?'"

Of couse they didn't. Why would anyone think something so silly? The whole idea of the agony of the editorial staffs is nonsense.
10.25.2008 2:51pm
LM (mail):
Yes, Elliot. And the operative word is "editorial." No one claims the Times' Editorial Page attempts to be objective any more than the National Review, Weekly Standard, The Nation, Kos, LGF or VC do. But for practical purposes, all of the latter are 100% editorial. The Times, on the other hand, has a news reporting function that's independent of the positions of its Editorial Page editors. It applies a journalistic code of standards and practices designed to optimize objectivity. That's where and how the agonizing happens. That the results are as imperfect as any human endeavor, and could be much better if reviewed pre-publication by eyes with a broader ideological view,* doesn't make The Times remotely the equivalent of any of the unapologetically biased venues of commentary and infotainment that hold themselves to no such code.

[*I disagree with David W that ideological diversity in this regard is any less important than cultural. I think any point of view you care about not slighting has to participate in the process or else everyone else's blind spots regarding that viewpoint will remain blind despite best intentions.]
10.25.2008 9:00pm
David Warner:
LM,

"I disagree with David W that ideological diversity in this regard is any less important than cultural. I think any point of view you care about not slighting has to participate in the process or else everyone else's blind spots regarding that viewpoint will remain blind despite best intentions."

At the end of the day, Mencken was a cosmopolitan at heart, but his bullshit-detector would still be going non-stop in today's NYT newsroom, and not just in the newsroom.

I think Pinch sincerely believes that he's gone to extraordinary lengths to present a balanced Editorial Page, given the Times' role, in his mind, and not his alone, as the agenda-setter for the nation.

Pinch has more taste than sense. He needs some help.
10.25.2008 9:43pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
elliot:

Of couse they didn't. Why would anyone think something so silly? The whole idea of the agony of the editorial staffs is nonsense.


You seemed to be implying that there was something wrong with NYT writing about Iseman. I pointed out that NR did something very similar. I was just wondering if your criticism of NYT also applied to NR. On the other hand, it's possible you apply the following doctrine: IOKIYAR.
10.26.2008 7:53pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Sorry you infer what I didn't imply. I was laughing at the idea that the NYT staff is agonizing over its coverage.

I also laugh at the idea that NR agonizes over its coverage.

But, who knows, maybe the NYT Agony Aunts sweated blood, lost sleeep, and contracted irritable bowel syndrome over their rejection of their first reporter's early story that the charges against the Duke lacrosse team were bogus. Their agony no doubt sent them scurrying to find the real story of white privilege, downtrodden black women, dumb jocks, and racial hate crimes. Too often we fail to appreciate the personal sacrifice of the dedicated, crusading, and selfless reporters and editors who pledge their lives to bringing us all the news that's fit to print.
10.26.2008 8:44pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
elliot:

I also laugh at the idea that NR agonizes over its coverage.


You seem to be saying they're careless. I'm glad we could find this common ground.
10.26.2008 9:38pm
Elliot123 (mail):
No, again you infer what I don't imply. I'm laughing at the idea that they agonize. That has nothing to do with carelessless. Lack of agony in no way implies or demands carelessness.
10.27.2008 12:55pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
elliot:

The bottom line is that whatever criticism you were applying to NYT re Iseman also applies to NR.
10.27.2008 1:37pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I don't care. I'm laughing at both of them. Oh! The agony of the newsroom! But, is it possible their agony really does lead to carelessness? Oh, dear!
10.27.2008 5:10pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Elliot, all I can say is that I guess it is really easy to defame people when you don't know the first thing about how they work.

Again, "The Public Editor" is freely available at nytimes.com. You can see for yourself how newsrooms really work and the things they do to try to be fair to all sides. (Note-- this doesn't mean they succeed or that the concerns of some on this thread about diversity do not have some merit. Though I note a bit of irony here, as conservatives seem not to believe in diversity except when it might benefit them.)
10.27.2008 6:14pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Elliot, all I can say is that I guess it is really easy to defame people when you don't know the first thing about how they work."

Oh! The Agony of the Public Editor! The agony of the career apologist! The agony of the newsroom, criticized... yes, criticized... and mocked by the lumpen! How dare they!
10.27.2008 10:00pm
LM (mail):
Elliot,

Is there any imperfect striving that doesn't earn your mockery? If so, what distinguishes it from efforts of serious journalists to report objectively?
10.28.2008 5:43am
Elliot123 (mail):
My mockery is not because someone strives imperfectly, so on that score just about any imperfect striving is free from my mockery. So, yes, imperfect striving is free from being mocked on the basis of its imperfection.

I reserve mockery for the poseurs who say one thing, yet do another. In this case, I am mocking the notion that newsroom staffs agonize over their coverage. I have sufficient respect for their intelligence that I presume they know exactly what they are doing when they select a particular subset of available items for publication.

But, perhaps somewhere out there, late at night, in a sleeping city, in a deserted newsroom, some wretched soul stubs out his Camel, dries his eyes, and takes a final slug of Mylanta. He throws his coat over his shoulder, salutes the smokey, lopsided picture of Menken on the wall, and brings another day of agony to a close. Oh! God! What I do for these people. The sacrifice! I coulda' been a contender! The agony, the agony, the agony...
10.28.2008 12:56pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Let the mockery begin...Mencken. Oh, the agony...
10.28.2008 12:59pm
LM (mail):
Nicely done, but nonetheless unduly cynical.
10.28.2008 2:33pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
In this case, I am mocking the notion that newsroom staffs agonize over their coverage. I have sufficient respect for their intelligence that I presume they know exactly what they are doing when they select a particular subset of available items for publication.

And the reason you are mocking it is because you have never bothered to learn the first thing about journalism.

Mocking from a position of ignorance is just pathetic.
10.28.2008 4:21pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"And the reason you are mocking it is because you have never bothered to learn the first thing about journalism."

I mock it because I look at the product.

Most of all, I mock the people who see writers and editors for a newspaper as a special breed of caring, sincere, and giving people, dedicated to serving the people and the republic at a great personal and emotional cost.

Perhaps you can tell us what other professions regularly agonize over their day's work? Who else is so torn by their inner anxiety that their daily trudge through torment is tearing their souls asunder?

Oh! The agony of the editor! The agony of the reporter! The agony of the train ride back to Connecticutt! The agony of the paper boy! The agony at the innocence if the Duke Lacrosse team! The agony of the ink stained wretches who wield the sword of the free press in the face of tyranny! Horatio at the bridge! As Dan Rather so often told us, "Courage!"
10.28.2008 6:52pm
LM (mail):
Elliot,

Most of all, I mock the people who see writers and editors for a newspaper as a special breed of caring, sincere, and giving people, dedicated to serving the people and the republic at a great personal and emotional cost.

That's a straw man. That the press plays an essential role in guarding our liberty -- essential enough to be singled out for Constitutional mention and protection -- makes no special claim about the personal qualities of its practitioners. Like every profession, it has its dedicated, its courageous, and its lying, lazy cowards.

Perhaps you can tell us what other professions regularly agonize over their day's work? Who else is so torn by their inner anxiety that their daily trudge through torment is tearing their souls asunder?

Snarky caricatures aside, lots of professions have their cohort of agonizers. I know lawyers, doctors, business people, cops, military and teachers, to name a few, who agonize over aspects of their work. It's called caring about doing a good job, and those with certain personalities agonize over doing properly whatever they consider important. And that doesn't make them grandiose drama queens. Taking what you do seriously isn't the same thing as taking yourself seriously.
10.28.2008 9:17pm