About the Best of Manhattan 2000

Written by Russ Smith on . Posted in Best of Manhattan, Posts.


Danny
Hellman

I’m
Talkin’ Trash

New York’s National
Embarrassment

Pouring
It All Out, Part XIII.
This week’s entire New York Press
is devoted to our annual Best of Manhattan roundup. There’s
no need to expand further; our editors and writers have worked for several months
at compiling this year’s digest of recommendations and opinions. Read their
work and judge it for yourselves, but be assured that while wit, enthusiasm
and bile are general throughout the issue, our writers were given a strict mandate:
be honest and credible.



Every year,
usually by happenstance, the Best of Manhattan manifests a certain theme that
can be detected by even the most casual reader. In the 2000 edition that theme
is The New York Times, a newspaper that’s so out of touch with the
mainstream that every day a new journalistic horror is foisted upon the people
of New York, as well as readers across the country. There are two enduring cliches
about the Times that are mindlessly repeated by members of the media
and citizens of Zabar’s Nation. The first is relatively benign:
the Times‘ nickname remains “The Gray Lady.”


Obviously, that’s no
longer literally true, as the paper has been sufficiently modernized to include
process-color photographs, charts and illustrations. As Paul Weller sang
many years ago, that’s entertainment–just a function of the marketplace.
Dig deeper, however, and think of what the adjective “gray” conveys:
the idea of a serious, even intellectual, newspaper, where words matter more
than flashy pictures or screaming headlines. I’d argue that the Times
is no longer interested in printing articles that don’t conform to its
management’s peculiar dogma; that, in fact, over the past 15 years, but
particularly since Arthur Sulzberger Jr. began his tenure as publisher,
the paper has become anti-intellectual, often in the extreme.


The second cliche is more
exasperating: The Times is still glorified, often by itself, as the United
States’ “paper of record.” I ask, the “record” of what
and whom? Despite the feeble pretense that, aside from the editorial pages,
the Times‘ contents are “objective,” that’s–objectively
speaking–not the case. As I’ve written before, if the Times
declared its political and social intentions–as does The Wall Street
Journal
, the New York Post and London‘s Guardian
and Daily Telegraph, to name just a few–the elitist, left-wing
slant that informs the daily would be no less noxious, but far more truthful.


Instead, the Times
operates from a limo-to-limo mindset. Reading the paper, it’s clear that
the reporters, columnists and editorialists wouldn’t deign to dine, bowl
or share a drink with the salt-of-the-earth people who are propped up, and condescended
to, in their pages. Nevertheless, the Times cabal knows what’s best
for New York City and indeed the entire nation. In this way, the Times
worldview is just as fraudulent and out-of-touch as the Clinton administration’s:
say anything, write anything and do anything to retain power.


It’s no accident, for
instance, that the Times, along with several other media outlets, endorses
the ideologically bankrupt concept of campaign finance reform. Because the Times
is a liberal newspaper, a virtual satellite of the Democratic National Committee
(unlike The Washington Post, which is far more even-handed in its coverage,
despite sharing many of the same political goals as its New York competitor),
it calls for the abolition of so-called “soft money.” In the unlikely
case that such legislation, which is clearly a violation of the First Amendment,
is ever enacted, who would benefit?


It wouldn’t be the
rare individual who contributes to political campaigns. Remember that donations
are limited to $1000 per campaign, a figure that was set in the post-Watergate
70s and has never been adjusted for inflation. And, if the Times
desire for the Democrats to retain the White House and take back control
of Congress is fulfilled this November, you can bet that while certain corporations
and institutions like the NRA will be shut out, the powerful unions and
trial lawyers’ lobby will somehow be exempt. But, most significantly, this
dismantling of traditional American democracy would mostly grant more influence
to–the media.


As levelheaded scholars
point out, usually to little effect, such legislation would’ve made it
impossible for Eugene McCarthy, bankrolled by wealthy patrons, to mount
his historic primary challenge to President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. McCarthy’s
insurgent campaign, which led to Robert F. Kennedy‘s entry
into the Democratic race, turned the political landscape upside down. Many of
the same people who cheered when Johnson subsequently abandoned his reelection
plans now insist that the McCain-Feingold reform bill is perhaps the
most important issue that faces the country today. But as the polls reflect,
most Americans couldn’t care less. Don’t forget that one of the most
popular presidents of the 20th century was John F. Kennedy, and his drive
to the White House was funded by his father’s bootlegger money and cash
donations from the mob.


Ultimately, despite the
myopic and self-interested view of the elite media, citizens don’t really
care about the money that’s spent in a presidential campaign. They want
a person who’s likable and concerned about their wallets, who doesn’t
have an itchy trigger finger and who–especially now, in light of the past
eight years–is morally presentable. It might be as simple as this: which
candidate is more likely to rush into a burning house to save your family? In
the 2000 contest–and I digress here–I’d wager it would be Gov.
Bush
who would instinctively take action, while Al Gore might dilly-dally
as he considers the political implications.


Lance Morrow, a veteran
Time essayist, offered this opinion in the weekly’s Sept. 25
edition: “In my right ear I hear the concussive blasts of Limbaugh. With
my left eye I read the New York Times, the curia and house organ of America’s
new established church–the church of correctness and diversity, with all
its rigid doctrines now embedded in the rules of corporations, of government,
of universities.”




A specific
example of how the Times–never considered a conservative newspaper,
especially in the past 50 years–has morphed into an organ of unblinking,
effete liberalism is the coverage of two U.S. Senate races in New York: Robert
F. Kennedy vs. Kenneth Keating 1964 and Hillary Clinton vs. Rick
Lazio
in 2000. There are similarities: Kennedy, like Clinton, was ostracized
as a “carpetbagger”; both were relatives of a U.S. president; and
each was suspected of using the Senate seat as a political stepping-stone.


Yet while the Times
has lovingly embraced Clinton’s candidacy–again, to the point of cheerleading–the
paper was adamantly opposed to Kennedy, and endorsed his rival that autumn.
The editorialist wrote that Kennedy (who as his brother’s attorney general
had a far more impressive resume than Clinton has) stirred “an uneasiness
that is no less real because it is illusive and difficult to define.”


In the ’64 campaign,
according to RFK biographers Evan Thomas (Robert Kennedy: His Life)
and Jeff Shesol (Mutual Contempt), the Times was relentless
in its opposition to Kennedy, using editorial headlines like “Kennedy Blitzkrieg.”
The paper wrote in August of that year: “Mr. Kennedy, in frantic need of
a new launching pad for his political fortunes after President Johnson blackballed
him as the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, simply moved into a vacuum…
In characteristic fashion, he did not wait to be asked. With the aid of his
political field marshal, brother-in-law Stephen Smith, he set in motion a steamroller
that flattened the party’s bemused state leadership into a doormat bearing
the legend, ‘Welcome, Bobby.'”


Thomas writes: “Very
thin-skinned around reporters and editors he couldn’t easily manipulate,
Kennedy developed a lifelong resentment of the Times. He groused that
the editors’ idea of a good story was ‘More Nuns Leave Church.'”
RFK also said, after the Times continued to badger him after his defeat
of Keating, that “Anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals.”


But today, under Baby Boomer
Sulzberger and his lackeys, it’s a new dawn, an easy-listening rock ‘n’
roll political world. Is there any doubt that the Times, later this fall,
will endorse Mrs. Clinton, a candidate who’s never held an elected or a
non-honorific appointed office, and whose ethical misadventures–from those
missing legal documents to White House and Camp David sleepovers for
campaign contributors–would eliminate any other aspirant from the paper’s
consideration?


And never mind that Kennedy’s
brother was a martyred president who was still, at that time, held in almost
saintlike regard by New Yorkers, as opposed to Clinton’s husband, the only
impeached president of the 20th century. What’s important to Sulzberger
is that Hillary Clinton, in addition to designing the failed healthcare legislation
of 1993 that would’ve handed over one-seventh of the U.S. economy to the
government, is considered a tireless advocate for, in current parlance, “the
children.”


A Sept. 19 Times
“news” article by Dean E. Murphy, headlined “Mrs. Clinton
Portrays Lazio as Bully and Derides His Tax Plan,” is typical of the blatant
favoritism the paper shows to the resume-light First Lady who’s running
against a four-term congressman. Murphy writes: “At ease in a Manhattan
hotel ballroom filled mostly with Democratic women, Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday
made a broad appeal for women to support her Senate campaign, casting her Republican
opponent Representative, Rick A. Lazio, as a bully in last week’s debate
and dismissing his tax plan as misleading and mathematically unsound.”


Two days later, Adam
Nagourney
contributed his own slant: “Voter attitudes toward Rick A.
Lazio have turned markedly more negative since June, with suburban women now
moving solidly toward Hillary Rodham Clinton and many New Yorkers saying Mr.
Lazio came across as harsh and inexperienced in his debate with Mrs. Clinton
last week, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.”


(It should be noted that,
on the same day, the nonpartisan Marist Institute Poll showed a dead
heat, with Clinton and Lazio tied at 44 percent among likely voters, as opposed
to the 9-point advantage given to Clinton in the Times survey. In addition,
like Newsweek polls, Times/CBS polls are often suspect:
For example, a Times poll released on Nov. 4, 1996, the day before the
presidential election, showed President Clinton with a 16-point lead over GOP
challenger Bob Dole. Twenty-four hours later, Clinton indeed defeated
Dole, but by a margin of only 8 points.)


The Times has milked
the alleged “bully” debate tactics of Lazio consistently since the
candidates’ Sept. 13 exchange in Buffalo. As usual, Mrs. Clinton
insists on having it all. She claims the campaign should be about the “issues,”
but then complains when confronted by an aggressive challenger. Unfortunately,
it’s this kind of behavior, encouraged by the Times, that lessens
the probability of there being a female U.S. president in the near future.


It’s true that Lazio’s
walk over to Clinton’s lectern with a “no-more-soft-money” pledge
was a gimmick; that’s politics. But imagine how a secure woman like Margaret
Thatcher
might’ve reacted to the situation. Instead of acting stunned
and fragile, I’d wager that Thatcher would’ve examined Lazio’s
piece of paper, grandly declared the contents “pure rubbish” and then
ripped the paper in two.


Nagourney, in a Sept. 25
“Campaign Memo,” openly despaired that Clinton had struck a deal with
Lazio on soft money advertising. (It’s too early to predict whether that
agreement will stick; my guess is that it’ll unravel in a week or two.)
The Times reporter doesn’t attempt to mask his advocacy for Clinton,
writing: “Still, it would seem that Mrs. Clinton has suffered some self-inflicted
and perhaps unnecessary damage in trying to clear this particular table. Her
aides did not seem to notice when the subject shifted from Mr. Lazio’s
manners in aggressively demanding at their debate that she sign a soft-money
ban, which clearly helped the first lady, to the merits of the ban itself, which
seems to have benefited Mr. Lazio.”


In one of the paper’s
most appalling double-standards displays this year, an Aug. 30 editorial argued
that independent counsel Robert Ray‘s Whitewater report
shouldn’t be released before the election. “If Mr. Ray cares at all
about his credibility,” the paper whined, “and about whether the public
sees his report as an objective document or a time bomb lobbed at Mrs. Clinton’s
campaign, he will delay it until after the election.” As it turned out,
Ray’s findings were made public, and the First Lady was cleared of any
criminal activity.


Eight years ago, however,
as John Steele Gordon pointed out in the Aug. 31 opinionjournal.com,
the Times felt differently about political “interference.”
Three days before the ’92 election, Iran-Contra independent
counsel Lawrence Walsh issued an indictment of former Defense Secretary
Caspar Weinberger and questioned President Bush‘s involvement
in the scandal. Six days after Bush was defeated by Bill Clinton, an editorial
“notebook” piece by John P. MacKenzie said: “Could
Mr. Walsh have postponed the indictment past the election? Yes, but his office
had promised it by the end of October under a demanding court timetable… If
Lawrence Walsh had suppressed this information, the public would be justifiably
angry. Angry enough to wonder why we bothered to have an independent counsel.”


The worst, to be sure, is
yet to come. The Times‘ inevitable twin endorsements of Hillary
Clinton and Al Gore are bound to set a new standard for pandering to the masses,
extolling both candidates for their populist promises. Then, the 9-to-5 grind
completed, Sulzberger’s team will be ferried to their country houses, smug
in their learned recommendations to, and for, the great unwashed.




The Times
unacknowledged partisanship is spread throughout its pages. On the subject of
George W. Bush, all hands at the paper are allowed, most likely encouraged,
to distort everything from the GOP presidential nominee’s record in Texas
to his proposed Social Security overhaul to his verbal bloopers. (Bush
might have trouble pronouncing “subliminal,” but unlike his opponent
Al Gore, he’s not prone to misleading self-aggrandizement or exploitation
of family tragedy for political gain. You make the call.)


On Sept. 16, political beat
reporter Frank Bruni was unabashed in his low opinion of Bush. Concluding
an article that derided the Governor for “holding his own in the reinvention
sweepstakes,” Bruni referred to Gail Sheehy‘s vile Oct.
Vanity Fair profile in which the 1970s-psychobabble refugee asserted,
with little evidence, that Bush is afflicted by dyslexia. Bruni writes: “Mr.
Bush has laughed off that theory and did so on this occasion by pointing out
how little contact he had had with the writer of the Vanity Fair article, Gail
Sheehy. ‘The woman who knew that I had dyslexia. I never interviewed her,’
Mr. Bush said. He did not appear to be making what would have been an incredibly
clever joke.”


A Sept. 21 article by Steven
Lee Myers
, headlined “Gore’s Service Does Not Keep Vets From Bush,”
was biased from its first paragraph to the 30th. He began: “Al Gore enlisted
in the Army and went to Vietnam. George W. Bush joined the Texas National Guard
and did not. But for many people in uniform, that makes little difference. It
is Mr. Bush, not Mr. Gore, who seems to enjoy some automatic credibility with
the military because of his party affiliation, his policy positions, his running
mate, his advisers and his father.”


It must frustrate Sulzberger
that while his newspaper might set the agenda for the self-satisfied cognoscenti,
his influence within the military isn’t as pervasive.


Richard
Berke
, considered the Times‘ star political reporter, isn’t
a stickler when it comes to facts. A Sept. 17 article, headlined “A Political
Rarity: Seven Weeks of Maybe,” was about the potential closeness of the
Bush-Gore race. Berke wrote: “In mid-October of 1980, polls suggested that
Mr. Reagan’s support was leveling off and that Mr. Carter was on the rise.
That led Robert Strauss, Mr. Carter’s campaign manager, to say to a reporter
at the time, ‘I sleep like a baby these nights.’ Not too long after
that comment, Mr. Reagan began to gain ground. He won with only 50.8 percent
of the vote. The Kennedy victory was even more of a squeaker: 50.1 percent.”


Berke’s reporting is
misleading. Yes, Reagan took 50.8 percent of the vote in ’80, but he smashed
Carter, who won just 41 percent. Berke omits independent candidate John
Anderson‘s share that year, as well as the votes for fringe candidates.
Reagan’s victory was a landslide. In addition, the correct totals of the
JFK-Nixon race in ’60 were 49.7-49.6 percent of the vote.


Op-ed columnist Paul
Krugman
–who rarely misses an opportunity to blast the sound fiscal
policy of lowering taxes–was typical in his derision of Bush in an Aug.
16 essay. Read one Krugman column and you’ve read them all, but on that
summer day he wrote: “America’s economic miracle–which Bill Clinton
claimed as vindication in his Monday [Democratic convention] speech, but George
W. Bush insists was an act of God–didn’t begin when Mr. Clinton took
office in 1993. And no, it didn’t begin with Ronald Reagan either.”


One of Krugman’s op-ed
mates, Bob Herbert, contributes to the Times‘ disintegration
in his own ham-handed way. On Aug. 24, he wrote: “Education is one of the
hot issues in the presidential campaign. All the candidates are in favor of
enhanced student achievement, tough standards, rigorous testing. And all agree
that steps have to be taken to improve the performance of black and Latino students.
No one wants school kids to grow up spelling like Dan Quayle.”


I’m sure that absurd
slur provoked much merriment in the Times‘ mess hall, but this is
a fact: the United States should be so lucky that its students, often
taught by barely literate union-protected teachers, were able to spell, or think,
as well as Dan Quayle.


Some Times pundits,
such as Frank Rich, apparently feel that Bush is unfit for the presidency
because he’s not as “with it” as Deadheads Al and Tipper
Gore
. Even though Bush hasn’t threatened the entertainment industry
with censorship, as Gore and Joe Lieberman have–the square Governor
believes it’s up to parents to monitor their children’s viewing and
listening choices–Rich is unimpressed. Last Saturday, he said: “You
almost have to feel for Mr. Bush. A man who by his own admission loved ‘Cats’
and hasn’t been to a movie theater in years, he is not exactly a slick
show-biz hand.”


But who says the Times
is elitist?


You might remember all the
media hand-wringing over Bush’s “vulgar” characterization of
Times
reporter Adam Clymer on Labor Day. Clymer, Bush said
to runningmate Dick Cheney, unaware that he was before a live microphone, was
a “major-league asshole.” I suspect that that was the beginning of
Bush’s comeback in the topsy-turvy polls–as this is written, Gore’s
lead in the national polls has been erased–but Clymer’s compatriots
acted stunned, as if they’d never heard, or uttered, the word “asshole”
before.


If the Times considered
Bush’s insult such an affront, you’d think Clymer would’ve been
recused from writing further stories about the Governor, but that wouldn’t
fit into the paper’s overall agenda. On Sept. 17, for instance, Clymer
wrote a long piece on the race, detailing Gore’s increasing lead in the
Electoral College count. In 10 days or so, when the state polls, which
are conducted less frequently than national surveys, are released, we’ll
see if Clymer writes a follow-up.


As for obscenity, according
to a Sept. 15 New York Observer editorial, the TimesLos
Angeles
bureau chief Todd Purdum could give Bush a few pointers.
During the Democratic convention, Purdum hosted a party at his house; the guest
list included not only Times colleagues, but also Hollywood entertainers
and Clinton officials. Considering the event newsworthy, Observer media
reporter Gabriel Snyder–admittedly a crummy one–called Purdum
for an invitation. The Timesman, who, in the now-accepted but still unseemly
Beltway tradition, is married to former Clinton press spokeswoman Dee
Dee Myers
, said to Snyder: “This is my fucking house and you are not
coming and you can shove your head up your fucking ass!”


As always, the Times
stands as a Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton-certified defender of affirmative
action. One of the silliest assertions of the necessity of quotas came in a
Sept. 5 editorial called “Technology’s Gender Gap.” It read,
in part: “The barriers that keep minorities from enjoying full access to
the technological revolution have been widely commented on. Less talked about
is another ‘digital divide,’ the fact that fewer women are entering
today’s booming technology fields…


“Because the industry
serves the broader needs of society, the technology workplace ought to reflect
the interests of both men and women. The technology industry badly needs more
workers. Women represent a major untapped source of talent that could solve
the shortage.”


I swear, the above actually
was a Times editorial, and not a plank in the Democratic party
platform. It seems odd that the paper, which wholeheartedly supported the Clinton
administration’s persecution of Microsoft–and by extension
of other technological companies that were built by entrepreneurs and have created
a massive number of jobs–is so concerned about the well-being of that industry.
But given the opportunity to interfere, in lockstep with a government that has
no understanding of the field, a-huntin’ the Times will go.


It’s particularly galling
when the paper’s editorialists play prole for a day and attempt to convey
the feelings they no doubt believe their readers are incapable of. A July 23
toss-off, “Hamptons Serenade,” poked fun at the celebrities and wealthy
New Yorkers who migrate east each summer and cause horrific traffic gridlock
as well as provide grist for gossip columns. There’s a stench in the final
two sentences of the piece, perhaps because they encapsulate so neatly the entire
falsity of the Times‘ ethos: “To most of us, there is something
almost soporific in the sound of millionaires whining at the edge of the ocean.
It is the sound of summer, a sound as characteristic of the season as crickets
keening in the high grass.”




Finally,
there was the Sept. 24 edition of the Times, which was strewn with biased
and misleading information. In the Times Magazine, an article about late-night
tv comics and their role in politics was headlined “The Stiff Guy vs. the
Dumb Guy.”


On the editorial page, there’s
a flabbergasting, if predictable, valentine to Joel Klein, the outgoing
Justice Dept. bad-ass who did his best to screw up free enterprise in
this country. The Times calls upon its readers to show gratitude for
Klein’s dangerous and antiquated antitrust enforcement.


Another editorial calls
for universal healthcare, and claims that even populist-when-convenient Al Gore
isn’t doing enough to fulfill Hillary Clinton’s disastrous plan of
1993.


In the news section, Richard
Berke is about 10 days late with a story about GOP infighting, especially in
the unexpected battleground state of Florida. Without citing a single
pollster by name, Berke writes: “And now with only six weeks remaining,
Republicans face polls showing a dead heat in Florida.”


But Berke is a prophet compared
to Nicholas D. Kristof, who contributes yet another front-page profile
of George W. Bush. In this installment, Kristof reports that Bush is a lifelong
baseball fan, was an owner of the Texas Rangers and reaped an enormous
profit when the team was sold. That Bush’s entire business career, as well
as his lackadaisical collegiate years, have been the subject of hundreds, probably
thousands, of articles in the past two years, isn’t germane. With six weeks
until Election Day, The New York Times is working overtime.



September
25



Send
comments to MUG1988@aol.com or fax to 244-9864.

Please include your full
name, town and state for publication.


About the Best of Manhattan 2000

Written by Russ Smith on . Posted in Best of Manhattan, Posts.


Danny
Hellman

I’m
Talkin’ Trash

New York’s National
Embarrassment

Pouring
It All Out, Part XIII.
This week’s entire New York Press
is devoted to our annual Best of Manhattan roundup. There’s
no need to expand further; our editors and writers have worked for several months
at compiling this year’s digest of recommendations and opinions. Read their
work and judge it for yourselves, but be assured that while wit, enthusiasm
and bile are general throughout the issue, our writers were given a strict mandate:
be honest and credible.



Every year,
usually by happenstance, the Best of Manhattan manifests a certain theme that
can be detected by even the most casual reader. In the 2000 edition that theme
is The New York Times, a newspaper that’s so out of touch with the
mainstream that every day a new journalistic horror is foisted upon the people
of New York, as well as readers across the country. There are two enduring cliches
about the Times that are mindlessly repeated by members of the media
and citizens of Zabar’s Nation. The first is relatively benign:
the Times‘ nickname remains “The Gray Lady.”


Obviously, that’s no
longer literally true, as the paper has been sufficiently modernized to include
process-color photographs, charts and illustrations. As Paul Weller sang
many years ago, that’s entertainment–just a function of the marketplace.
Dig deeper, however, and think of what the adjective “gray” conveys:
the idea of a serious, even intellectual, newspaper, where words matter more
than flashy pictures or screaming headlines. I’d argue that the Times
is no longer interested in printing articles that don’t conform to its
management’s peculiar dogma; that, in fact, over the past 15 years, but
particularly since Arthur Sulzberger Jr. began his tenure as publisher,
the paper has become anti-intellectual, often in the extreme.


The second cliche is more
exasperating: The Times is still glorified, often by itself, as the United
States’ “paper of record.” I ask, the “record” of what
and whom? Despite the feeble pretense that, aside from the editorial pages,
the Times‘ contents are “objective,” that’s–objectively
speaking–not the case. As I’ve written before, if the Times
declared its political and social intentions–as does The Wall Street
Journal
, the New York Post and London‘s Guardian
and Daily Telegraph, to name just a few–the elitist, left-wing
slant that informs the daily would be no less noxious, but far more truthful.


Instead, the Times
operates from a limo-to-limo mindset. Reading the paper, it’s clear that
the reporters, columnists and editorialists wouldn’t deign to dine, bowl
or share a drink with the salt-of-the-earth people who are propped up, and condescended
to, in their pages. Nevertheless, the Times cabal knows what’s best
for New York City and indeed the entire nation. In this way, the Times
worldview is just as fraudulent and out-of-touch as the Clinton administration’s:
say anything, write anything and do anything to retain power.


It’s no accident, for
instance, that the Times, along with several other media outlets, endorses
the ideologically bankrupt concept of campaign finance reform. Because the Times
is a liberal newspaper, a virtual satellite of the Democratic National Committee
(unlike The Washington Post, which is far more even-handed in its coverage,
despite sharing many of the same political goals as its New York competitor),
it calls for the abolition of so-called “soft money.” In the unlikely
case that such legislation, which is clearly a violation of the First Amendment,
is ever enacted, who would benefit?


It wouldn’t be the
rare individual who contributes to political campaigns. Remember that donations
are limited to $1000 per campaign, a figure that was set in the post-Watergate
70s and has never been adjusted for inflation. And, if the Times
desire for the Democrats to retain the White House and take back control
of Congress is fulfilled this November, you can bet that while certain corporations
and institutions like the NRA will be shut out, the powerful unions and
trial lawyers’ lobby will somehow be exempt. But, most significantly, this
dismantling of traditional American democracy would mostly grant more influence
to–the media.


As levelheaded scholars
point out, usually to little effect, such legislation would’ve made it
impossible for Eugene McCarthy, bankrolled by wealthy patrons, to mount
his historic primary challenge to President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. McCarthy’s
insurgent campaign, which led to Robert F. Kennedy‘s entry
into the Democratic race, turned the political landscape upside down. Many of
the same people who cheered when Johnson subsequently abandoned his reelection
plans now insist that the McCain-Feingold reform bill is perhaps the
most important issue that faces the country today. But as the polls reflect,
most Americans couldn’t care less. Don’t forget that one of the most
popular presidents of the 20th century was John F. Kennedy, and his drive
to the White House was funded by his father’s bootlegger money and cash
donations from the mob.


Ultimately, despite the
myopic and self-interested view of the elite media, citizens don’t really
care about the money that’s spent in a presidential campaign. They want
a person who’s likable and concerned about their wallets, who doesn’t
have an itchy trigger finger and who–especially now, in light of the past
eight years–is morally presentable. It might be as simple as this: which
candidate is more likely to rush into a burning house to save your family? In
the 2000 contest–and I digress here–I’d wager it would be Gov.
Bush
who would instinctively take action, while Al Gore might dilly-dally
as he considers the political implications.


Lance Morrow, a veteran
Time essayist, offered this opinion in the weekly’s Sept. 25
edition: “In my right ear I hear the concussive blasts of Limbaugh. With
my left eye I read the New York Times, the curia and house organ of America’s
new established church–the church of correctness and diversity, with all
its rigid doctrines now embedded in the rules of corporations, of government,
of universities.”




A specific
example of how the Times–never considered a conservative newspaper,
especially in the past 50 years–has morphed into an organ of unblinking,
effete liberalism is the coverage of two U.S. Senate races in New York: Robert
F. Kennedy vs. Kenneth Keating 1964 and Hillary Clinton vs. Rick
Lazio
in 2000. There are similarities: Kennedy, like Clinton, was ostracized
as a “carpetbagger”; both were relatives of a U.S. president; and
each was suspected of using the Senate seat as a political stepping-stone.


Yet while the Times
has lovingly embraced Clinton’s candidacy–again, to the point of cheerleading–the
paper was adamantly opposed to Kennedy, and endorsed his rival that autumn.
The editorialist wrote that Kennedy (who as his brother’s attorney general
had a far more impressive resume than Clinton has) stirred “an uneasiness
that is no less real because it is illusive and difficult to define.”


In the ’64 campaign,
according to RFK biographers Evan Thomas (Robert Kennedy: His Life)
and Jeff Shesol (Mutual Contempt), the Times was relentless
in its opposition to Kennedy, using editorial headlines like “Kennedy Blitzkrieg.”
The paper wrote in August of that year: “Mr. Kennedy, in frantic need of
a new launching pad for his political fortunes after President Johnson blackballed
him as the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, simply moved into a vacuum…
In characteristic fashion, he did not wait to be asked. With the aid of his
political field marshal, brother-in-law Stephen Smith, he set in motion a steamroller
that flattened the party’s bemused state leadership into a doormat bearing
the legend, ‘Welcome, Bobby.'”


Thomas writes: “Very
thin-skinned around reporters and editors he couldn’t easily manipulate,
Kennedy developed a lifelong resentment of the Times. He groused that
the editors’ idea of a good story was ‘More Nuns Leave Church.'”
RFK also said, after the Times continued to badger him after his defeat
of Keating, that “Anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals.”


But today, under Baby Boomer
Sulzberger and his lackeys, it’s a new dawn, an easy-listening rock ‘n’
roll political world. Is there any doubt that the Times, later this fall,
will endorse Mrs. Clinton, a candidate who’s never held an elected or a
non-honorific appointed office, and whose ethical misadventures–from those
missing legal documents to White House and Camp David sleepovers for
campaign contributors–would eliminate any other aspirant from the paper’s
consideration?


And never mind that Kennedy’s
brother was a martyred president who was still, at that time, held in almost
saintlike regard by New Yorkers, as opposed to Clinton’s husband, the only
impeached president of the 20th century. What’s important to Sulzberger
is that Hillary Clinton, in addition to designing the failed healthcare legislation
of 1993 that would’ve handed over one-seventh of the U.S. economy to the
government, is considered a tireless advocate for, in current parlance, “the
children.”


A Sept. 19 Times
“news” article by Dean E. Murphy, headlined “Mrs. Clinton
Portrays Lazio as Bully and Derides His Tax Plan,” is typical of the blatant
favoritism the paper shows to the resume-light First Lady who’s running
against a four-term congressman. Murphy writes: “At ease in a Manhattan
hotel ballroom filled mostly with Democratic women, Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday
made a broad appeal for women to support her Senate campaign, casting her Republican
opponent Representative, Rick A. Lazio, as a bully in last week’s debate
and dismissing his tax plan as misleading and mathematically unsound.”


Two days later, Adam
Nagourney
contributed his own slant: “Voter attitudes toward Rick A.
Lazio have turned markedly more negative since June, with suburban women now
moving solidly toward Hillary Rodham Clinton and many New Yorkers saying Mr.
Lazio came across as harsh and inexperienced in his debate with Mrs. Clinton
last week, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.”


(It should be noted that,
on the same day, the nonpartisan Marist Institute Poll showed a dead
heat, with Clinton and Lazio tied at 44 percent among likely voters, as opposed
to the 9-point advantage given to Clinton in the Times survey. In addition,
like Newsweek polls, Times/CBS polls are often suspect:
For example, a Times poll released on Nov. 4, 1996, the day before the
presidential election, showed President Clinton with a 16-point lead over GOP
challenger Bob Dole. Twenty-four hours later, Clinton indeed defeated
Dole, but by a margin of only 8 points.)


The Times has milked
the alleged “bully” debate tactics of Lazio consistently since the
candidates’ Sept. 13 exchange in Buffalo. As usual, Mrs. Clinton
insists on having it all. She claims the campaign should be about the “issues,”
but then complains when confronted by an aggressive challenger. Unfortunately,
it’s this kind of behavior, encouraged by the Times, that lessens
the probability of there being a female U.S. president in the near future.


It’s true that Lazio’s
walk over to Clinton’s lectern with a “no-more-soft-money” pledge
was a gimmick; that’s politics. But imagine how a secure woman like Margaret
Thatcher
might’ve reacted to the situation. Instead of acting stunned
and fragile, I’d wager that Thatcher would’ve examined Lazio’s
piece of paper, grandly declared the contents “pure rubbish” and then
ripped the paper in two.


Nagourney, in a Sept. 25
“Campaign Memo,” openly despaired that Clinton had struck a deal with
Lazio on soft money advertising. (It’s too early to predict whether that
agreement will stick; my guess is that it’ll unravel in a week or two.)
The Times reporter doesn’t attempt to mask his advocacy for Clinton,
writing: “Still, it would seem that Mrs. Clinton has suffered some self-inflicted
and perhaps unnecessary damage in trying to clear this particular table. Her
aides did not seem to notice when the subject shifted from Mr. Lazio’s
manners in aggressively demanding at their debate that she sign a soft-money
ban, which clearly helped the first lady, to the merits of the ban itself, which
seems to have benefited Mr. Lazio.”


In one of the paper’s
most appalling double-standards displays this year, an Aug. 30 editorial argued
that independent counsel Robert Ray‘s Whitewater report
shouldn’t be released before the election. “If Mr. Ray cares at all
about his credibility,” the paper whined, “and about whether the public
sees his report as an objective document or a time bomb lobbed at Mrs. Clinton’s
campaign, he will delay it until after the election.” As it turned out,
Ray’s findings were made public, and the First Lady was cleared of any
criminal activity.


Eight years ago, however,
as John Steele Gordon pointed out in the Aug. 31 opinionjournal.com,
the Times felt differently about political “interference.”
Three days before the ’92 election, Iran-Contra independent
counsel Lawrence Walsh issued an indictment of former Defense Secretary
Caspar Weinberger and questioned President Bush‘s involvement
in the scandal. Six days after Bush was defeated by Bill Clinton, an editorial
“notebook” piece by John P. MacKenzie said: “Could
Mr. Walsh have postponed the indictment past the election? Yes, but his office
had promised it by the end of October under a demanding court timetable… If
Lawrence Walsh had suppressed this information, the public would be justifiably
angry. Angry enough to wonder why we bothered to have an independent counsel.”


The worst, to be sure, is
yet to come. The Times‘ inevitable twin endorsements of Hillary
Clinton and Al Gore are bound to set a new standard for pandering to the masses,
extolling both candidates for their populist promises. Then, the 9-to-5 grind
completed, Sulzberger’s team will be ferried to their country houses, smug
in their learned recommendations to, and for, the great unwashed.




The Times
unacknowledged partisanship is spread throughout its pages. On the subject of
George W. Bush, all hands at the paper are allowed, most likely encouraged,
to distort everything from the GOP presidential nominee’s record in Texas
to his proposed Social Security overhaul to his verbal bloopers. (Bush
might have trouble pronouncing “subliminal,” but unlike his opponent
Al Gore, he’s not prone to misleading self-aggrandizement or exploitation
of family tragedy for political gain. You make the call.)


On Sept. 16, political beat
reporter Frank Bruni was unabashed in his low opinion of Bush. Concluding
an article that derided the Governor for “holding his own in the reinvention
sweepstakes,” Bruni referred to Gail Sheehy‘s vile Oct.
Vanity Fair profile in which the 1970s-psychobabble refugee asserted,
with little evidence, that Bush is afflicted by dyslexia. Bruni writes: “Mr.
Bush has laughed off that theory and did so on this occasion by pointing out
how little contact he had had with the writer of the Vanity Fair article, Gail
Sheehy. ‘The woman who knew that I had dyslexia. I never interviewed her,’
Mr. Bush said. He did not appear to be making what would have been an incredibly
clever joke.”


A Sept. 21 article by Steven
Lee Myers
, headlined “Gore’s Service Does Not Keep Vets From Bush,”
was biased from its first paragraph to the 30th. He began: “Al Gore enlisted
in the Army and went to Vietnam. George W. Bush joined the Texas National Guard
and did not. But for many people in uniform, that makes little difference. It
is Mr. Bush, not Mr. Gore, who seems to enjoy some automatic credibility with
the military because of his party affiliation, his policy positions, his running
mate, his advisers and his father.”


It must frustrate Sulzberger
that while his newspaper might set the agenda for the self-satisfied cognoscenti,
his influence within the military isn’t as pervasive.


Richard
Berke
, considered the Times‘ star political reporter, isn’t
a stickler when it comes to facts. A Sept. 17 article, headlined “A Political
Rarity: Seven Weeks of Maybe,” was about the potential closeness of the
Bush-Gore race. Berke wrote: “In mid-October of 1980, polls suggested that
Mr. Reagan’s support was leveling off and that Mr. Carter was on the rise.
That led Robert Strauss, Mr. Carter’s campaign manager, to say to a reporter
at the time, ‘I sleep like a baby these nights.’ Not too long after
that comment, Mr. Reagan began to gain ground. He won with only 50.8 percent
of the vote. The Kennedy victory was even more of a squeaker: 50.1 percent.”


Berke’s reporting is
misleading. Yes, Reagan took 50.8 percent of the vote in ’80, but he smashed
Carter, who won just 41 percent. Berke omits independent candidate John
Anderson‘s share that year, as well as the votes for fringe candidates.
Reagan’s victory was a landslide. In addition, the correct totals of the
JFK-Nixon race in ’60 were 49.7-49.6 percent of the vote.


Op-ed columnist Paul
Krugman
–who rarely misses an opportunity to blast the sound fiscal
policy of lowering taxes–was typical in his derision of Bush in an Aug.
16 essay. Read one Krugman column and you’ve read them all, but on that
summer day he wrote: “America’s economic miracle–which Bill Clinton
claimed as vindication in his Monday [Democratic convention] speech, but George
W. Bush insists was an act of God–didn’t begin when Mr. Clinton took
office in 1993. And no, it didn’t begin with Ronald Reagan either.”


One of Krugman’s op-ed
mates, Bob Herbert, contributes to the Times‘ disintegration
in his own ham-handed way. On Aug. 24, he wrote: “Education is one of the
hot issues in the presidential campaign. All the candidates are in favor of
enhanced student achievement, tough standards, rigorous testing. And all agree
that steps have to be taken to improve the performance of black and Latino students.
No one wants school kids to grow up spelling like Dan Quayle.”


I’m sure that absurd
slur provoked much merriment in the Times‘ mess hall, but this is
a fact: the United States should be so lucky that its students, often
taught by barely literate union-protected teachers, were able to spell, or think,
as well as Dan Quayle.


Some Times pundits,
such as Frank Rich, apparently feel that Bush is unfit for the presidency
because he’s not as “with it” as Deadheads Al and Tipper
Gore
. Even though Bush hasn’t threatened the entertainment industry
with censorship, as Gore and Joe Lieberman have–the square Governor
believes it’s up to parents to monitor their children’s viewing and
listening choices–Rich is unimpressed. Last Saturday, he said: “You
almost have to feel for Mr. Bush. A man who by his own admission loved ‘Cats’
and hasn’t been to a movie theater in years, he is not exactly a slick
show-biz hand.”


But who says the Times
is elitist?


You might remember all the
media hand-wringing over Bush’s “vulgar” characterization of
Times
reporter Adam Clymer on Labor Day. Clymer, Bush said
to runningmate Dick Cheney, unaware that he was before a live microphone, was
a “major-league asshole.” I suspect that that was the beginning of
Bush’s comeback in the topsy-turvy polls–as this is written, Gore’s
lead in the national polls has been erased–but Clymer’s compatriots
acted stunned, as if they’d never heard, or uttered, the word “asshole”
before.


If the Times considered
Bush’s insult such an affront, you’d think Clymer would’ve been
recused from writing further stories about the Governor, but that wouldn’t
fit into the paper’s overall agenda. On Sept. 17, for instance, Clymer
wrote a long piece on the race, detailing Gore’s increasing lead in the
Electoral College count. In 10 days or so, when the state polls, which
are conducted less frequently than national surveys, are released, we’ll
see if Clymer writes a follow-up.


As for obscenity, according
to a Sept. 15 New York Observer editorial, the TimesLos
Angeles
bureau chief Todd Purdum could give Bush a few pointers.
During the Democratic convention, Purdum hosted a party at his house; the guest
list included not only Times colleagues, but also Hollywood entertainers
and Clinton officials. Considering the event newsworthy, Observer media
reporter Gabriel Snyder–admittedly a crummy one–called Purdum
for an invitation. The Timesman, who, in the now-accepted but still unseemly
Beltway tradition, is married to former Clinton press spokeswoman Dee
Dee Myers
, said to Snyder: “This is my fucking house and you are not
coming and you can shove your head up your fucking ass!”


As always, the Times
stands as a Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton-certified defender of affirmative
action. One of the silliest assertions of the necessity of quotas came in a
Sept. 5 editorial called “Technology’s Gender Gap.” It read,
in part: “The barriers that keep minorities from enjoying full access to
the technological revolution have been widely commented on. Less talked about
is another ‘digital divide,’ the fact that fewer women are entering
today’s booming technology fields…


“Because the industry
serves the broader needs of society, the technology workplace ought to reflect
the interests of both men and women. The technology industry badly needs more
workers. Women represent a major untapped source of talent that could solve
the shortage.”


I swear, the above actually
was a Times editorial, and not a plank in the Democratic party
platform. It seems odd that the paper, which wholeheartedly supported the Clinton
administration’s persecution of Microsoft–and by extension
of other technological companies that were built by entrepreneurs and have created
a massive number of jobs–is so concerned about the well-being of that industry.
But given the opportunity to interfere, in lockstep with a government that has
no understanding of the field, a-huntin’ the Times will go.


It’s particularly galling
when the paper’s editorialists play prole for a day and attempt to convey
the feelings they no doubt believe their readers are incapable of. A July 23
toss-off, “Hamptons Serenade,” poked fun at the celebrities and wealthy
New Yorkers who migrate east each summer and cause horrific traffic gridlock
as well as provide grist for gossip columns. There’s a stench in the final
two sentences of the piece, perhaps because they encapsulate so neatly the entire
falsity of the Times‘ ethos: “To most of us, there is something
almost soporific in the sound of millionaires whining at the edge of the ocean.
It is the sound of summer, a sound as characteristic of the season as crickets
keening in the high grass.”




Finally,
there was the Sept. 24 edition of the Times, which was strewn with biased
and misleading information. In the Times Magazine, an article about late-night
tv comics and their role in politics was headlined “The Stiff Guy vs. the
Dumb Guy.”


On the editorial page, there’s
a flabbergasting, if predictable, valentine to Joel Klein, the outgoing
Justice Dept. bad-ass who did his best to screw up free enterprise in
this country. The Times calls upon its readers to show gratitude for
Klein’s dangerous and antiquated antitrust enforcement.


Another editorial calls
for universal healthcare, and claims that even populist-when-convenient Al Gore
isn’t doing enough to fulfill Hillary Clinton’s disastrous plan of
1993.


In the news section, Richard
Berke is about 10 days late with a story about GOP infighting, especially in
the unexpected battleground state of Florida. Without citing a single
pollster by name, Berke writes: “And now with only six weeks remaining,
Republicans face polls showing a dead heat in Florida.”


But Berke is a prophet compared
to Nicholas D. Kristof, who contributes yet another front-page profile
of George W. Bush. In this installment, Kristof reports that Bush is a lifelong
baseball fan, was an owner of the Texas Rangers and reaped an enormous
profit when the team was sold. That Bush’s entire business career, as well
as his lackadaisical collegiate years, have been the subject of hundreds, probably
thousands, of articles in the past two years, isn’t germane. With six weeks
until Election Day, The New York Times is working overtime.



September
25



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comments to MUG1988@aol.com or fax to 244-9864.

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About the Best of Manhattan 2000

Written by Russ Smith on . Posted in Best of Manhattan, Posts.



Danny
Hellman

I’m
Talkin’ Trash

New York’s National
Embarrassment

Pouring
It All Out, Part XIII.
This week’s entire New York Press
is devoted to our annual Best of Manhattan roundup. There’s
no need to expand further; our editors and writers have worked for several months
at compiling this year’s digest of recommendations and opinions. Read their
work and judge it for yourselves, but be assured that while wit, enthusiasm
and bile are general throughout the issue, our writers were given a strict mandate:
be honest and credible.



Every year,
usually by happenstance, the Best of Manhattan manifests a certain theme that
can be detected by even the most casual reader. In the 2000 edition that theme
is The New York Times, a newspaper that’s so out of touch with the
mainstream that every day a new journalistic horror is foisted upon the people
of New York, as well as readers across the country. There are two enduring cliches
about the Times that are mindlessly repeated by members of the media
and citizens of Zabar’s Nation. The first is relatively benign:
the Times’ nickname remains "The Gray Lady."


Obviously, that’s no
longer literally true, as the paper has been sufficiently modernized to include
process-color photographs, charts and illustrations. As Paul Weller sang
many years ago, that’s entertainment–just a function of the marketplace.
Dig deeper, however, and think of what the adjective "gray" conveys:
the idea of a serious, even intellectual, newspaper, where words matter more
than flashy pictures or screaming headlines. I’d argue that the Times
is no longer interested in printing articles that don’t conform to its
management’s peculiar dogma; that, in fact, over the past 15 years, but
particularly since Arthur Sulzberger Jr. began his tenure as publisher,
the paper has become anti-intellectual, often in the extreme.


The second cliche is more
exasperating: The Times is still glorified, often by itself, as the United
States’ "paper of record." I ask, the "record" of what
and whom? Despite the feeble pretense that, aside from the editorial pages,
the Times’ contents are "objective," that’s–objectively
speaking–not the case. As I’ve written before, if the Times
declared its political and social intentions–as does The Wall Street
Journal
, the New York Post and London’s Guardian
and Daily Telegraph, to name just a few–the elitist, left-wing
slant that informs the daily would be no less noxious, but far more truthful.


Instead, the Times
operates from a limo-to-limo mindset. Reading the paper, it’s clear that
the reporters, columnists and editorialists wouldn’t deign to dine, bowl
or share a drink with the salt-of-the-earth people who are propped up, and condescended
to, in their pages. Nevertheless, the Times cabal knows what’s best
for New York City and indeed the entire nation. In this way, the Times
worldview is just as fraudulent and out-of-touch as the Clinton administration’s:
say anything, write anything and do anything to retain power.


It’s no accident, for
instance, that the Times, along with several other media outlets, endorses
the ideologically bankrupt concept of campaign finance reform. Because the Times
is a liberal newspaper, a virtual satellite of the Democratic National Committee
(unlike The Washington Post, which is far more even-handed in its coverage,
despite sharing many of the same political goals as its New York competitor),
it calls for the abolition of so-called "soft money." In the unlikely
case that such legislation, which is clearly a violation of the First Amendment,
is ever enacted, who would benefit?


It wouldn’t be the
rare individual who contributes to political campaigns. Remember that donations
are limited to $1000 per campaign, a figure that was set in the post-Watergate
70s and has never been adjusted for inflation. And, if the Times
desire for the Democrats to retain the White House and take back control
of Congress is fulfilled this November, you can bet that while certain corporations
and institutions like the NRA will be shut out, the powerful unions and
trial lawyers’ lobby will somehow be exempt. But, most significantly, this
dismantling of traditional American democracy would mostly grant more influence
to–the media.


As levelheaded scholars
point out, usually to little effect, such legislation would’ve made it
impossible for Eugene McCarthy, bankrolled by wealthy patrons, to mount
his historic primary challenge to President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. McCarthy’s
insurgent campaign, which led to Robert F. Kennedy’s entry
into the Democratic race, turned the political landscape upside down. Many of
the same people who cheered when Johnson subsequently abandoned his reelection
plans now insist that the McCain-Feingold reform bill is perhaps the
most important issue that faces the country today. But as the polls reflect,
most Americans couldn’t care less. Don’t forget that one of the most
popular presidents of the 20th century was John F. Kennedy, and his drive
to the White House was funded by his father’s bootlegger money and cash
donations from the mob.


Ultimately, despite the
myopic and self-interested view of the elite media, citizens don’t really
care about the money that’s spent in a presidential campaign. They want
a person who’s likable and concerned about their wallets, who doesn’t
have an itchy trigger finger and who–especially now, in light of the past
eight years–is morally presentable. It might be as simple as this: which
candidate is more likely to rush into a burning house to save your family? In
the 2000 contest–and I digress here–I’d wager it would be Gov.
Bush
who would instinctively take action, while Al Gore might dilly-dally
as he considers the political implications.


Lance Morrow, a veteran
Time essayist, offered this opinion in the weekly’s Sept. 25
edition: "In my right ear I hear the concussive blasts of Limbaugh. With
my left eye I read the New York Times, the curia and house organ of America’s
new established church–the church of correctness and diversity, with all
its rigid doctrines now embedded in the rules of corporations, of government,
of universities."




A specific
example of how the Times–never considered a conservative newspaper,
especially in the past 50 years–has morphed into an organ of unblinking,
effete liberalism is the coverage of two U.S. Senate races in New York: Robert
F. Kennedy vs. Kenneth Keating 1964 and Hillary Clinton vs. Rick
Lazio
in 2000. There are similarities: Kennedy, like Clinton, was ostracized
as a "carpetbagger"; both were relatives of a U.S. president; and
each was suspected of using the Senate seat as a political stepping-stone.


Yet while the Times
has lovingly embraced Clinton’s candidacy–again, to the point of cheerleading–the
paper was adamantly opposed to Kennedy, and endorsed his rival that autumn.
The editorialist wrote that Kennedy (who as his brother’s attorney general
had a far more impressive resume than Clinton has) stirred "an uneasiness
that is no less real because it is illusive and difficult to define."


In the ’64 campaign,
according to RFK biographers Evan Thomas (Robert Kennedy: His Life)
and Jeff Shesol (Mutual Contempt), the Times was relentless
in its opposition to Kennedy, using editorial headlines like "Kennedy Blitzkrieg."
The paper wrote in August of that year: "Mr. Kennedy, in frantic need of
a new launching pad for his political fortunes after President Johnson blackballed
him as the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, simply moved into a vacuum…
In characteristic fashion, he did not wait to be asked. With the aid of his
political field marshal, brother-in-law Stephen Smith, he set in motion a steamroller
that flattened the party’s bemused state leadership into a doormat bearing
the legend, ‘Welcome, Bobby.’"


Thomas writes: "Very
thin-skinned around reporters and editors he couldn’t easily manipulate,
Kennedy developed a lifelong resentment of the Times. He groused that
the editors’ idea of a good story was ‘More Nuns Leave Church.’"
RFK also said, after the Times continued to badger him after his defeat
of Keating, that "Anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals."


But today, under Baby Boomer
Sulzberger and his lackeys, it’s a new dawn, an easy-listening rock ’n’
roll political world. Is there any doubt that the Times, later this fall,
will endorse Mrs. Clinton, a candidate who’s never held an elected or a
non-honorific appointed office, and whose ethical misadventures–from those
missing legal documents to White House and Camp David sleepovers for
campaign contributors–would eliminate any other aspirant from the paper’s
consideration?


And never mind that Kennedy’s
brother was a martyred president who was still, at that time, held in almost
saintlike regard by New Yorkers, as opposed to Clinton’s husband, the only
impeached president of the 20th century. What’s important to Sulzberger
is that Hillary Clinton, in addition to designing the failed healthcare legislation
of 1993 that would’ve handed over one-seventh of the U.S. economy to the
government, is considered a tireless advocate for, in current parlance, "the
children."


A Sept. 19 Times
"news" article by Dean E. Murphy, headlined "Mrs. Clinton
Portrays Lazio as Bully and Derides His Tax Plan," is typical of the blatant
favoritism the paper shows to the resume-light First Lady who’s running
against a four-term congressman. Murphy writes: "At ease in a Manhattan
hotel ballroom filled mostly with Democratic women, Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday
made a broad appeal for women to support her Senate campaign, casting her Republican
opponent Representative, Rick A. Lazio, as a bully in last week’s debate
and dismissing his tax plan as misleading and mathematically unsound."


Two days later, Adam
Nagourney
contributed his own slant: "Voter attitudes toward Rick A.
Lazio have turned markedly more negative since June, with suburban women now
moving solidly toward Hillary Rodham Clinton and many New Yorkers saying Mr.
Lazio came across as harsh and inexperienced in his debate with Mrs. Clinton
last week, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll."


(It should be noted that,
on the same day, the nonpartisan Marist Institute Poll showed a dead
heat, with Clinton and Lazio tied at 44 percent among likely voters, as opposed
to the 9-point advantage given to Clinton in the Times survey. In addition,
like Newsweek polls, Times/CBS polls are often suspect:
For example, a Times poll released on Nov. 4, 1996, the day before the
presidential election, showed President Clinton with a 16-point lead over GOP
challenger Bob Dole. Twenty-four hours later, Clinton indeed defeated
Dole, but by a margin of only 8 points.)


The Times has milked
the alleged "bully" debate tactics of Lazio consistently since the
candidates’ Sept. 13 exchange in Buffalo. As usual, Mrs. Clinton
insists on having it all. She claims the campaign should be about the "issues,"
but then complains when confronted by an aggressive challenger. Unfortunately,
it’s this kind of behavior, encouraged by the Times, that lessens
the probability of there being a female U.S. president in the near future.


It’s true that Lazio’s
walk over to Clinton’s lectern with a "no-more-soft-money" pledge
was a gimmick; that’s politics. But imagine how a secure woman like Margaret
Thatcher
might’ve reacted to the situation. Instead of acting stunned
and fragile, I’d wager that Thatcher would’ve examined Lazio’s
piece of paper, grandly declared the contents "pure rubbish" and then
ripped the paper in two.


Nagourney, in a Sept. 25
"Campaign Memo," openly despaired that Clinton had struck a deal with
Lazio on soft money advertising. (It’s too early to predict whether that
agreement will stick; my guess is that it’ll unravel in a week or two.)
The Times reporter doesn’t attempt to mask his advocacy for Clinton,
writing: "Still, it would seem that Mrs. Clinton has suffered some self-inflicted
and perhaps unnecessary damage in trying to clear this particular table. Her
aides did not seem to notice when the subject shifted from Mr. Lazio’s
manners in aggressively demanding at their debate that she sign a soft-money
ban, which clearly helped the first lady, to the merits of the ban itself, which
seems to have benefited Mr. Lazio."


In one of the paper’s
most appalling double-standards displays this year, an Aug. 30 editorial argued
that independent counsel Robert Ray’s Whitewater report
shouldn’t be released before the election. "If Mr. Ray cares at all
about his credibility," the paper whined, "and about whether the public
sees his report as an objective document or a time bomb lobbed at Mrs. Clinton’s
campaign, he will delay it until after the election." As it turned out,
Ray’s findings were made public, and the First Lady was cleared of any
criminal activity.


Eight years ago, however,
as John Steele Gordon pointed out in the Aug. 31 opinionjournal.com,
the Times felt differently about political "interference."
Three days before the ’92 election, Iran-Contra independent
counsel Lawrence Walsh issued an indictment of former Defense Secretary
Caspar Weinberger and questioned President Bush’s involvement
in the scandal. Six days after Bush was defeated by Bill Clinton, an editorial
"notebook" piece by John P. MacKenzie said: "Could
Mr. Walsh have postponed the indictment past the election? Yes, but his office
had promised it by the end of October under a demanding court timetable… If
Lawrence Walsh had suppressed this information, the public would be justifiably
angry. Angry enough to wonder why we bothered to have an independent counsel."


The worst, to be sure, is
yet to come. The Times’ inevitable twin endorsements of Hillary
Clinton and Al Gore are bound to set a new standard for pandering to the masses,
extolling both candidates for their populist promises. Then, the 9-to-5 grind
completed, Sulzberger’s team will be ferried to their country houses, smug
in their learned recommendations to, and for, the great unwashed.




The Times
unacknowledged partisanship is spread throughout its pages. On the subject of
George W. Bush, all hands at the paper are allowed, most likely encouraged,
to distort everything from the GOP presidential nominee’s record in Texas
to his proposed Social Security overhaul to his verbal bloopers. (Bush
might have trouble pronouncing "subliminal," but unlike his opponent
Al Gore, he’s not prone to misleading self-aggrandizement or exploitation
of family tragedy for political gain. You make the call.)


On Sept. 16, political beat
reporter Frank Bruni was unabashed in his low opinion of Bush. Concluding
an article that derided the Governor for "holding his own in the reinvention
sweepstakes," Bruni referred to Gail Sheehy’s vile Oct.
Vanity Fair profile in which the 1970s-psychobabble refugee asserted,
with little evidence, that Bush is afflicted by dyslexia. Bruni writes: "Mr.
Bush has laughed off that theory and did so on this occasion by pointing out
how little contact he had had with the writer of the Vanity Fair article, Gail
Sheehy. ‘The woman who knew that I had dyslexia. I never interviewed her,’
Mr. Bush said. He did not appear to be making what would have been an incredibly
clever joke."


A Sept. 21 article by Steven
Lee Myers
, headlined "Gore’s Service Does Not Keep Vets From Bush,"
was biased from its first paragraph to the 30th. He began: "Al Gore enlisted
in the Army and went to Vietnam. George W. Bush joined the Texas National Guard
and did not. But for many people in uniform, that makes little difference. It
is Mr. Bush, not Mr. Gore, who seems to enjoy some automatic credibility with
the military because of his party affiliation, his policy positions, his running
mate, his advisers and his father."


It must frustrate Sulzberger
that while his newspaper might set the agenda for the self-satisfied cognoscenti,
his influence within the military isn’t as pervasive.


Richard
Berke
, considered the Times’ star political reporter, isn’t
a stickler when it comes to facts. A Sept. 17 article, headlined "A Political
Rarity: Seven Weeks of Maybe," was about the potential closeness of the
Bush-Gore race. Berke wrote: "In mid-October of 1980, polls suggested that
Mr. Reagan’s support was leveling off and that Mr. Carter was on the rise.
That led Robert Strauss, Mr. Carter’s campaign manager, to say to a reporter
at the time, ‘I sleep like a baby these nights.’ Not too long after
that comment, Mr. Reagan began to gain ground. He won with only 50.8 percent
of the vote. The Kennedy victory was even more of a squeaker: 50.1 percent."


Berke’s reporting is
misleading. Yes, Reagan took 50.8 percent of the vote in ’80, but he smashed
Carter, who won just 41 percent. Berke omits independent candidate John
Anderson’s share that year, as well as the votes for fringe candidates.
Reagan’s victory was a landslide. In addition, the correct totals of the
JFK-Nixon race in ’60 were 49.7-49.6 percent of the vote.


Op-ed columnist Paul
Krugman
–who rarely misses an opportunity to blast the sound fiscal
policy of lowering taxes–was typical in his derision of Bush in an Aug.
16 essay. Read one Krugman column and you’ve read them all, but on that
summer day he wrote: "America’s economic miracle–which Bill Clinton
claimed as vindication in his Monday [Democratic convention] speech, but George
W. Bush insists was an act of God–didn’t begin when Mr. Clinton took
office in 1993. And no, it didn’t begin with Ronald Reagan either."


One of Krugman’s op-ed
mates, Bob Herbert, contributes to the Times’ disintegration
in his own ham-handed way. On Aug. 24, he wrote: "Education is one of the
hot issues in the presidential campaign. All the candidates are in favor of
enhanced student achievement, tough standards, rigorous testing. And all agree
that steps have to be taken to improve the performance of black and Latino students.
No one wants school kids to grow up spelling like Dan Quayle."


I’m sure that absurd
slur provoked much merriment in the Times’ mess hall, but this is
a fact: the United States should be so lucky that its students, often
taught by barely literate union-protected teachers, were able to spell, or think,
as well as Dan Quayle.


Some Times pundits,
such as Frank Rich, apparently feel that Bush is unfit for the presidency
because he’s not as "with it" as Deadheads Al and Tipper
Gore
. Even though Bush hasn’t threatened the entertainment industry
with censorship, as Gore and Joe Lieberman have–the square Governor
believes it’s up to parents to monitor their children’s viewing and
listening choices–Rich is unimpressed. Last Saturday, he said: "You
almost have to feel for Mr. Bush. A man who by his own admission loved ‘Cats’
and hasn’t been to a movie theater in years, he is not exactly a slick
show-biz hand."


But who says the Times
is elitist?


You might remember all the
media hand-wringing over Bush’s "vulgar" characterization of
Times
reporter Adam Clymer on Labor Day. Clymer, Bush said
to runningmate Dick Cheney, unaware that he was before a live microphone, was
a "major-league asshole." I suspect that that was the beginning of
Bush’s comeback in the topsy-turvy polls–as this is written, Gore’s
lead in the national polls has been erased–but Clymer’s compatriots
acted stunned, as if they’d never heard, or uttered, the word "asshole"
before.


If the Times considered
Bush’s insult such an affront, you’d think Clymer would’ve been
recused from writing further stories about the Governor, but that wouldn’t
fit into the paper’s overall agenda. On Sept. 17, for instance, Clymer
wrote a long piece on the race, detailing Gore’s increasing lead in the
Electoral College count. In 10 days or so, when the state polls, which
are conducted less frequently than national surveys, are released, we’ll
see if Clymer writes a follow-up.


As for obscenity, according
to a Sept. 15 New York Observer editorial, the TimesLos
Angeles
bureau chief Todd Purdum could give Bush a few pointers.
During the Democratic convention, Purdum hosted a party at his house; the guest
list included not only Times colleagues, but also Hollywood entertainers
and Clinton officials. Considering the event newsworthy, Observer media
reporter Gabriel Snyder–admittedly a crummy one–called Purdum
for an invitation. The Timesman, who, in the now-accepted but still unseemly
Beltway tradition, is married to former Clinton press spokeswoman Dee
Dee Myers
, said to Snyder: "This is my fucking house and you are not
coming and you can shove your head up your fucking ass!"


As always, the Times
stands as a Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton-certified defender of affirmative
action. One of the silliest assertions of the necessity of quotas came in a
Sept. 5 editorial called "Technology’s Gender Gap." It read,
in part: "The barriers that keep minorities from enjoying full access to
the technological revolution have been widely commented on. Less talked about
is another ‘digital divide,’ the fact that fewer women are entering
today’s booming technology fields…


"Because the industry
serves the broader needs of society, the technology workplace ought to reflect
the interests of both men and women. The technology industry badly needs more
workers. Women represent a major untapped source of talent that could solve
the shortage."


I swear, the above actually
was a Times editorial, and not a plank in the Democratic party
platform. It seems odd that the paper, which wholeheartedly supported the Clinton
administration’s persecution of Microsoft–and by extension
of other technological companies that were built by entrepreneurs and have created
a massive number of jobs–is so concerned about the well-being of that industry.
But given the opportunity to interfere, in lockstep with a government that has
no understanding of the field, a-huntin’ the Times will go.


It’s particularly galling
when the paper’s editorialists play prole for a day and attempt to convey
the feelings they no doubt believe their readers are incapable of. A July 23
toss-off, "Hamptons Serenade," poked fun at the celebrities and wealthy
New Yorkers who migrate east each summer and cause horrific traffic gridlock
as well as provide grist for gossip columns. There’s a stench in the final
two sentences of the piece, perhaps because they encapsulate so neatly the entire
falsity of the Times’ ethos: "To most of us, there is something
almost soporific in the sound of millionaires whining at the edge of the ocean.
It is the sound of summer, a sound as characteristic of the season as crickets
keening in the high grass."




Finally,
there was the Sept. 24 edition of the Times, which was strewn with biased
and misleading information. In the Times Magazine, an article about late-night
tv comics and their role in politics was headlined "The Stiff Guy vs. the
Dumb Guy."


On the editorial page, there’s
a flabbergasting, if predictable, valentine to Joel Klein, the outgoing
Justice Dept. bad-ass who did his best to screw up free enterprise in
this country. The Times calls upon its readers to show gratitude for
Klein’s dangerous and antiquated antitrust enforcement.


Another editorial calls
for universal healthcare, and claims that even populist-when-convenient Al Gore
isn’t doing enough to fulfill Hillary Clinton’s disastrous plan of
1993.


In the news section, Richard
Berke is about 10 days late with a story about GOP infighting, especially in
the unexpected battleground state of Florida. Without citing a single
pollster by name, Berke writes: "And now with only six weeks remaining,
Republicans face polls showing a dead heat in Florida."


But Berke is a prophet compared
to Nicholas D. Kristof, who contributes yet another front-page profile
of George W. Bush. In this installment, Kristof reports that Bush is a lifelong
baseball fan, was an owner of the Texas Rangers and reaped an enormous
profit when the team was sold. That Bush’s entire business career, as well
as his lackadaisical collegiate years, have been the subject of hundreds, probably
thousands, of articles in the past two years, isn’t germane. With six weeks
until Election Day, The New York Times is working overtime.



September
25



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