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The Grey Lady can cheer up

Howell Raines, chief editor of the New York Times, that bastion of liberal-left opinion, has resigned, following the recent scandal surrounding young ex-reporter Jayson Blair, who fabricated numerous reports for a period of several months.

It would be arrogant to claim that Raines, who devoted inordinate editorial resources to covering such crucial matters as the admissions policy of the Augusta golf club while forces were fighting in Iraq, could be described as the victim of the blogosphere. But nonetheless bloggers like Andrew Sullivan have been relentless in chronicling how this paper has lost its way under Raines’ leadership.

Perhaps, along the lines of a famous tune, Sullivan and the rest should be humming:

“I can write clearly now that Raines has gone, I can clear all obstacles from my way…”

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5 comments to The Grey Lady can cheer up

  • I don’t think the Grey Lady will cheer up. The Times has been mortally wounded and will shrink into a pool of bitter tears.

  • Gregory Litchfield

    It’s a shame that the publishing industry is still on rocks, since the Washington Post now has the opportunity to give the NYT a run for its money as the “Newspaper of Record.” I would imagine that the public’s trust in the Old Gray Lady, even among Manhattanites, is at an all-time low at the moment. Within just the last several weeks we’ve seen the Blair scandal, the uncredited stringer hooplah and the invention of “Dowdification.” If the long-delayed decision to strip Duranty of his Pulitzer is made soon and publically enough, it’s just one more nail in the coffin of the NYT’s hegemony.

    With the resignations of both Boyd and Raines, the true malignancy of the cancer that has grown in the NYT is clear for all to see. If only the Washington Post Co. had the capital, now would be the time to increase circulation nationwide, as well as ramping up advertising.

    I admit that the Post still tilts noticeably left, but it is a far more reliable paper than the Times. The editorials are often balanced, the news doesn’t have any editorializing and the columns are politically diverse. Also, the haughtiness and condescension present in the Times is largely absent in the WP.

    Kick the bastards when they’re down, they’re easier to hit that way.

  • S. Weasel

    I’m afraid the Times has been more gray than lady for a long, long time now. Circulation reflected that, well before the Jayson Blair issue.

    By the way, did you see the Guardian get caught in a Dowd today? To be fair, it appears they got messed up by reading the conversation in a German paper.

    Wolfowitz was in Singapore for some meeting, and the press asked him why we invaded Iraq but not North Korea, and the Guardian reported (under the headline “Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil”):

    “Let’s look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil.”

    When what he actually said was:

    Look, the primarily difference — to put it a little too simply — between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil.

    They’ve retracted prettily and all.

  • Andrew X

    Be arrogant.

    Maybe I’m overselling, but this strikes me as the third huge victory for the blogosphere.

    First was US Election ’02, where basically no one in the mass media predicted the virtually unprecedented congressional mid-term victories for Bush. But not only did manny bloggers predict it, but the issues that drove the voters turned out to be the ones the blogs were big on. Maybe I’m reaching, but there it is.

    #2 – Trent Lott, former Republican leader, laid low by idiotic racial statements. No reaching here. The blogs killed him. Flat out. Neither media nor Democrats reacted at all to Lott’s comments for a good 72 hours. In that time, the blogs blew a gasket. Being largely conservative, they pegged Lott for the threat that he posed to everything conservatives stand for today by acting basically like a confederate. The blogs howled, and THEN it crept into the press and the journals, followed by the mass media and the two parties. And blogs beat the drums, hour after hour. Two weeks later, Lott was gone.

    Now Raines. While newspaper editorials kept after the NYT, it was the daily bloggers and their relentless hounding of Raines, Blair, Dowd, and the whole crew, while correctly targeting the head of the rotting fish. And now Raines, who never offered to resign and was told by his publisher, “I won’t accept it if you do resign”… is gone, along with his first officer.

    Be arrogant. Something big is happening here, and blogs are bang in the center of it.

  • And yet…

    As everyone pretty well knows, the big blackout began about 4:10PM EDT on August 14.

    I picked up a copy of the NYT about 9AM this morning. The papers had arrived at the newstand some 3-4 hours later than usual.

    As I read the coverage I began to think about how, within a 12 hour period, the NYT had responded to a significant unforseen event which directly affected its capacity to respond.

    What were all the elements that had come together to produce what I think was superb covereage?

    Technology, some elements of design and doubtless luck, but clearly, it seems to me, the culture of The Grey Lady is the underlying force in achievements such as this. Doubtless there will be detractors and I’m not a journalist, but a reader. I was impressed.

    Within a few months span the NYT has gone from nadir to zenith. Think of the G forces involved in that cycle.