23 June 2006

How far they have wandered!

Here is a quintessential quote that is very worthy of many a person and with regards to institutions it is also one that is worth adhering to:

There are few things in this world which it is worth while to get angry about; and they are just the things anger will not improve. - Henry Jarvis Raymond
Truer words were never spoken. Unfortunately the successor's of Mr. Raymond and Mr. George Jones have decided that fanning the flames are just what the world needs.

From a newspaper.

Far be it from me to actually hold back on the New York Times and their wondrous journey into realms most sordid: reporting on a totally legal but SECRET tracking of terrorist's finances.

Actually, since I have already vituperated on their nonsense once, with John Kerry and his new photos (such a lovely guy to shoot pictures and film in Viet Nam... or, more correctly, to have other people shoot such things FOR HIM and OF HIM and ABOUT HIM). So perhaps one of their local competitors would like to take a stab at them. So onto the NY Sun, a stalwart paper:

The Times reported that it decided to report publicly on the program despite requests by administration officials that the newspaper not publish the story. The officials argued that the disclosure could reduce the effort's effectiveness, the newspaper said.

The executive editor of the Times, Bill Keller, said the newspaper was not persuaded. "We have listened closely to the administration's arguments for withholding this information, and given them the most serious and respectful consideration," Mr. Keller said. "We remain convinced that the administration's extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted use of it may be, is a matter of public interest."

The Times was already facing calls for its criminal prosecution in connection with a December report on a classified National Security Agency program for warrantless surveillance of telephone calls between America and abroad that are thought to involve people affiliated with terrorism. In that instance, President Bush reportedly summoned Mr. Keller and the publisher of the Times, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., to the Oval Office to ask that the story be killed.

The disclosure led to a series of lawsuits by civil liberties advocates. Some lawmakers also have denounced the program as unlawful and an impermissible expansion of executive authority.

A conservative magazine editor who is one of the leading advocates of prosecuting the Times for its December story, Gabriel Schoenfeld, told The New York Sun last night that the newspaper's latest move could increase their legal jeopardy.

"They're courting prosecution. ... They're increasingly behaving like if we were in the middle of World War II and they learned of plans to invade Normandy. Because they decided it's a matter of public interest, they'd publish it," Mr. Schoenfeld said. "I think this is reckless and likely to encourage Attorney General Gonzales to prosecute them, if not for this story, for some of the other things they've done."

Mr. Schoenfeld said that the latest disclosure by the Times about the financial surveillance was less clear cut as a legal violation because it did not appear to involve communications intelligence, which is specially protected under federal law.

Mr. Schoenfeld said the new report would increase anger against the paper. "They really are testing the limits of congressional and executive branch patience. There's a lot of displeasure with what they're doing," said Mr. Schoenfeld, who edits Commentary magazine and writes a weekly column on chess for the Sun.

Thank you, NY Sun! Mr. Schoenfeld seems to keep the gentlemanly attitude the founders of the New York Times wished others would have. How unfortunate that the Times sees weakening the Republic as a thing necessary for the "public interest". One would think the public might be interested in stopping terrorists and either capturing or killing them, and be a bit less interested in the means and methods to do so.

Now, going perusing through the other daily papers in NYC one finds... silence. An AP story here and the WSJ behind its wall... but nothing to call the NYT on its hubris.

Totally off-topic but the Polish American Journal from Buffalo notes that Polish troops may stay in Iraq:
In an interview with Europe Today, [Polish Defense Minister Radek] Sikorski said Polish forces had encountered less trouble in Iraq than some other countries' troops. He attributed this to a greater reluctance to use force and more respect for the country's religious sites.

"We are a religious country. Maybe the Iraqis pick up the fact that we respect their religious sites perhaps more than some others, and we seem to have good relationships with the local people," he said.
Damn! Figures the Polish community in the US would keep track of such things... heaven forefend the NYT or the Washington Post sully itself to report something so simple.

Now the Blogs are all over this with a rundown at Pajamas Media well worth going through.

Today we are seeing the convulsions that the dead tree print media has been predicting since the mid-1990's if not earlier: in order to compete for time and people, they must get even further and further away from *news* and go deep into advocacy journalism. This trend started in the 1960's and grew from there as the emphasis became to be less on the NEWS and more on the STORY. The 'compelling human interest' angle was always one that was played up, so a simple house fire became a heart rending STORY of tragedy, despair, hope and possible salvation that you would never find out about as the wise men at the paper had decided to move on from there to the latest tragedy. And if you can't get that, then go for graft, greed and corruption! Or an invasive government! Break down those doors to get the *story*...

Even when there isn't one.

And responsibility to the Nation as a whole?

"The public interest" is starting to sound more and more like "human interest", in which the paper will show something... anything... to get reader attention and then drop it for the next *big thing*. But when was the last really meaningful scoop? Its been some decades since Watergate and that is beginning to look more and more like an anomaly of personality than of pervasive government corruption. To get the 'scoop' on the 'big story' hasn't been grabbing anyone for years now... in point of fact readership across the industry is DOWN. Unless you are USAToday and make everything to be read in under 10 minutes and most short articles in under 2 minutes. And they live off of the business travel market and are not that great for in-depth reporting.

There are some catch phrases that are used these days to cover up someone wanting to hide misdeeds or take away rights for one thing or another:

  • "The public's right to know" = Our need for readers
  • "The public interest" = We will tell you what to be interested in
  • "For the children" = We don't want an adult world and want to be forever children
  • "The common interest" = Your taxes are going up
  • "It can't be addressed locally" = We want it done incompetently at a higher level
  • "It's for the public good" = Don't mind the land seizures and "the common interest"
  • "Only the Federal Government can address this" = We want it to remain a problem forever
  • "Count every vote and make sure every vote counts" = But only ours, please
  • "Don't drink and drive" = Except hot coffee from McDonald's
  • "It's for your own good" = It's a right you don't need
  • "Let somebody else take care of it" = It's my problem and I don't care about it
  • "You're a racist" = And you are a segregationist to bring that up, feel better now?
  • "We were put here for a purpose" = We want to screw things up worse and more frequently
  • "We have integrity to consider" = Our asses are exposed to gunfire
  • "We protect anonymous sources" = Especially that guy down at the bar claiming to work for the CIA
  • "Single payer health care is a solution" = Run like the IRS, records kept by the FBI and your health tracked by the Education Department... on a good day....
  • "Follow the money" = Unless it heads towards someone you like
  • "All the news that's fit to print" = Made up fresh daily to our liking
How the mighty have fallen upon hard times to need to put the Nation at risk for mere circulation.

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