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NYT Editor: Our Dumb Readers Didn’t Get It

From the New York Daily News:


Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger (left) presents Bill Keller of The New York Times, with the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

New York Times editor blames readers for dustup over John McCain article

BY KENNETH R. BAZINET

Saturday, February 23rd 2008

WASHINGTON – The embattled executive editor of the New York Times defended its John McCain story Friday with a novel explanation for the flood of critical e-mails the newspaper received: slow-witted readers.

“Personally, I was surprised by the volume of the reaction,” Bill Keller wrote in a Times Web site Q&A forum. Readers posted 2,000 comments and sent in 3,700 questions.

“I was surprised by how lopsided the opinion was against our decision, with readers who described themselves as independents and Democrats joining Republicans in defending Mr. McCain from what they saw as a cheap shot,” Keller added.

The problem, Keller went on, is that readers didn’t get it.

“Frankly, I was a little surprised by how few readers saw what was, to us, the larger point of the story.”

That point, he said, was that McCain, “this man who prizes his honor above all things and who appreciates the importance of appearances, also has a history of being sometimes careless about the appearance of impropriety, about his reputation.”

While some press watchers defended the Times, others said the problem wasn’t dense readers.

“I don’t want to fault the journalists,” said Columbia University journalism Prof. Todd Gitlin. “But the article as it ran was a mess and not the highest point of journalism.”

Gitlin said the story, which ran on Thursday, fell short of establishing that McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman had an improper relationship, or that she won special favors for clients. He suspected the Times actually pulled its punches on the ethics issues for fear of being accused of liberal bias.

Times Managing Editor Jill Abramson defended the part of the article that caused the biggest uproar – the concerns of two unnamed former McCain advisers that the senator was having a romantic relationship with Iseman.

“We believed it was vital for the story to accurately reflect the range of concerns shared by our sources,” and to not succumb to “possible qualms over ‘sexual innuendo,'” Abramson wrote.

Isn’t irony ironic?

That point, he said, was that McCain, “this man who prizes his honor above all things and who appreciates the importance of appearances, also has a history of being sometimes careless about the appearance of impropriety, about his reputation.”

The same thing could be said about the New York Times. That is, it could be if The Times had a reputation for honor to uphold.

But it never has. It has been consistently supporting our nation’s enemies for almost a hundred years.

“We believed it was vital for the story to accurately reflect the range of concerns shared by our sources,” and to not succumb to “possible qualms over ‘sexual innuendo,'” Abramson wrote.

Which explains the countless front page stories the New York Times ran about Mr. Clinton’s shady contributors and questionable liaisons.

(Of course I am kidding. The Times studiously ignored the bulk of Mr. Clinton’s nefarious escapades. Indeed, they usually only mentioned them in order to try to explain them away.)

They should finally face facts and re-tool their preposterous motto to something a little more approaching the truth:

All the “news” that fits our agenda.

By the way, Mr. Keller had a very sordid affair while he was married to his (first?) wife, before he then unceremoniously dumped her.

Pass it on.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, February 23rd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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