Outlook Murky – The New York Times

I spent some time looking through the New York Times today (to be precise, the Friday, August 7 issue). Conservatives, of course, are deeply suspicious of the Times. Its left-wing bias goes way back, well before 1969 when its editors showed their lack of happiness at the successful Apollo moon landing. Still, it remains in my mind the newspaper. Nowadays it is available everywhere, and even given out free on college campuses.

When I was growing up in the Midwest, the Times was hard to get hold of. You had to go to a larger town to get the Sunday edition, or get it by mail subscription. For practical purposes you could only read it at the library. I remember going to visit my grandparents in the New York area in my early teens, and being impressed at how they had the Times delivered to their home every day. On July 4, the paper would always reprint the Declaration of Independence. I suppose they probably still do. When I went to college, I made a point of subscribing to the Times at a discount through the student agency. I felt I had “arrived” as a student.

Nowadays, I doubt many students read newspapers at all. Those I have talked to say that the news is all bad anyway, or that they get their news from the Internet. I am like them in that last respect. And yet I still feel one should read a newspaper, just as one should write real letters to people (I don’t do much of that either). They should be our bread and butter for understanding society; not a final authority, but a fundamental source. That’s what my father said.

I might still read the Times regularly if its only problem were liberal bias. After all, you can still get useful information from a biased source. But it has fallen far below that. If you are a person who still believes in some of the traditional American values – say, limited government; personal responsibility; national identity; national interest – the Times is almost unreadable. Its stories and editorials adhere to “scripts” that reduce every issue to simplistic liberal paradigms. There is less variety of perspective, I imagine, than there was even in Communist publications during the Cold War; the only advantage the Times has over those is its sense of style – which probably makes it the more dangerous of the two.

What a strange, grim world is portrayed on those pages! It reminds me of something I have said before, that the one thing conservatives and liberals in America have in common is a deep sense of foreboding about the future. No one could read this paper day in and day out and come out with any sense of optimism for the future.

The headlines this particular day:

Headline: Senate Confirms Sotomayor for the Supreme Court: First Hispanic Is Approved by 68-31 Vote. Comment: Justices in our highest court are now chosen based on an ethnic spoils system. Americans: from now on you will see more and more “Hispanics” presiding over you. Did anyone ever ask you if you wanted this?

The Times sees this as a “resounding victory” for their side. I have to admire the brazenness of the photograph of the victorious Justice “returning to her Manhattan home,” with graffiti on the brick wall in the background. Seems to symbolize the third-worldization her confirmation represents.

Headline: Economists See A Limited Lift From Stimulus: Jobs Report Due Today – Outlook Murky. Comment: The “economists” seem to belong to the Obama administration. They and a few “private analysts” think they see a teensy benefit from the massive “stimulus” expenditures. The Times writer hopes this is the case, because when higher unemployment figures are released today, this will provide “Republicans and conservative economists new ammunition to argue that the stimulus has been a waste of taxpayer money.” This seems to leave out the possibility that the stimulus actually has been a waste of taxpayer money….

Headline: A New Battle of Vieques, Over Navy’s Cleanup. Comment: A Puerto Rico story, obviously paired with the Sotomayor confirmation. The Navy used this island of 9,300 residents for military training from World War II to 2003. They are now cleaning up unexploded munitions, with residents unhappy with the possible health effects of detonating munitions to clean them up. It appears to be the usual give and take between the U.S. government and the locals that one would expect, which the Hispanic author of the article attempts to spin as a major incident.

Headline: For Iraqis Released by the U.S., Little Hope and Plenty of Suspicion. Comment: The Times must have published hundreds of stories following this template. The poor Iraqis, detained for trying to attack us! When they get out, they find there are no jobs, so they’re likely to join the insurgency again. Apparently, America needs to create jobs for all of them, or let them immigrate to America. And of course, people are always “suspicious.” We just need to try harder, and spend more, to win their hearts and minds!

Headline: ANOTHER HURDLE FOR THE JOBLESS: CREDIT INQUIRIES. DISCRIMINATION FEARED. Employers Defending a Practice Some states Seek to Restrict. Comment: Poor Juan Ochoa! He thought he had a job lined up as a data entry clerk. “Before he could do much more, though, the firm checked his credit history. The interest vanished. There were too many collections claims against him, the firm said.”

Actually, I am not comfortable with the enormous significance credit ratings are taking on in our society, and the regularity of credit checks in daily life. But if this guy has a bunch of unpaid debts…but the author didn’t think it important to fill us in on those details.

Headline: High-Risk Drug Is in Spotlight In Wake of High-Profile Death. Comment: Propofol, the drug that may have killed Michael Jackson, is being abused by some people. The article discusses an anesthesiologist from Nebraska who supposedly got to the point of injecting himself with the drug 15 times in one night, and another medical professional who used it 100 times a day. A serious problem, if this is so, but the Times writer does not choose to question the character of this anesthesiologist, obviously a seriously irresponsible, out-of-control person, who apparently is now back on the job after several months of rehab.

The Times, and its cousins, provide daily intellectual fodder for our elites in all fields. Presumably they read it to stay “informed” in ways relevant to their work and lives. But what do they learn? The theme is always the same. The economy, the health industry, foreign relations, war, unemployment – in each realm discontented people, usually foreign or minority, present a problem to government or other authorities, with their grievances, dysfunctions, or illnesses. To solve these problems, “experts” must conduct studies and the government must then attempt solutions based on their findings, using public money. But like the heads of the Hydra, the problems multiply endlessly, while there is never even a fraction of the money available that those experts insist is needed. With no concept of the larger, timeless truths that form the foundation for the social order and teach the limitations of what man can accomplish on earth, all you can do is rely on hope – in the person of figures like Obama and Sotomayor, who have no conception of the Good but do believe in Change, Change, Change.

I have long been disillusioned with our liberal media, but I still miss the days when I could take pleasure in reading the New York Times.

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6 Responses to Outlook Murky – The New York Times

  1. Gintas says:

    It’s turned into a Kabuki theater of liberalism.

  2. stephenhopewell says:

    I looked at another issue today and I could have written the same comments with small variants. The only thing that varies from day to day is the level of outrageousness.

    I’ve never quite understood how the phrase “Kabuki theater” is used, but I get the idea….

  3. Dr.D says:

    There was a time when I had similar feelings for the Chicago Tribune, but has now gone much the same way.

    I think it is a sad fact that there are no real NEWS papers left in America any more. By this I mean papers that gather well researched facts, present careful, unbiased analysis, and write really well written prose. Even in terms of the editorials, they are no longer of the quality they were 50 years ago. Today they are simply diatribes, whereas they were once truly incisive and persuasive. I think it large part it is because both the writers and the readers are far less literate today than they were in earlier days, so nobody on either side really cares anymore.

  4. stephenhopewell says:

    Dr. D,

    You’re right, it’s not just liberal bias, but a matter of basic literacy, too. Nor are most papers truly rooted in their city and region anymore, except by advertisements. I’m not really saying anything new about the Times, but I wanted to capture the feeling of loss that you share.

  5. stephenhopewell says:

    _____ – so the discipline of journalism is actually based on marketing principles now? I think much of our society is run according to corporate principles, and they need to be identified and discredited.

    What sort of marketing principles? Can you recommend a book or other source that summarizes them?

  6. stephenhopewell says:

    _____ – thank you for your thoughtful answer. Yes, this quite helpful to hear said although it may be obvious to you. I’m interested in how conscious the process is of spreading PC orthodoxy. Anyone with an English degree or something like that is already trained, almost unconsciously, what to write and not write about, so they might not need to be told to write about immigration (for example) in a certain way.

    It also strikes me that students are trained to deconstruct ads and the media for their ideological content, which SHOULD be a way to reduce the power of propaganda, but actually is used to CREATE propaganda and enforce political correctness.

    Business, which was supposed to be the “bad” conservative force for leftists to fight, turns out to be just as leftist itself….

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