On the New York Times “Why Oh Why” front, the Times just appointed science reporter Carl Zimmer’s brother Ben as the language maven replacement for William Safire. Both Zimmers are excellent and highly competent reporters, exactly the kind of reporter that the Times is reputed to have but usually doesn’t.
What can we conclude from this, other than that the Times should hire more Zimmers? (I’m sure that there’s a good economics writer named Zimmer somewhere.)
The lesson is that the Times is willing to publish good reporting as long as the topic written about does not have critical day-to-day, life-and-death importance for our lives. So for topics the Sulzbergers regard as peripheral and fluffy, we get good stuff. But when the chips are down and the rubber hits the road, on war and peace or unemployment and depression, other considerations intervene, and the Times becomes the propaganda organ of an unexpressed neo-con, neoliberal, non-partisan, “centrist” agenda.
The media have chosen sides, and it’s not our side. We have to recognize this before we can deal with it. Even if all of the Democrats and liberals magically wised up about this overnight, I still doubt that we’d be able to overcome the systematic media opposition. But they haven’t wised up; they’re still hoping and praying that their holy fathers, Czar Sulzberger and Czar Graham (or maybe Czarina Weymouth) will hear their pleas.
Fortunately for the Czars, their Cossacks are loyal and up to the job. Expect more of the same.
(Part of an intermittent series, “Reasons to Quit”)