September 28, 2009

Letter to the NYT Public Editor

Filed under: Mainstream Media — Tags: — Russ @ 3:55 am
Yesterday the NYT public editor published an apology to right wingers for the NYT’s allegedly inadequate coverage of the ACORN crisis. (You didn’t know it was a crisis? Thought it was trivia compared to everyday corporate and governmental corruption? So did I.)
The gist: We at the NYT are so sorry that we didn’t give adequate coverage to the defining story of our non-corrupt times, the ACORN atrocity. In our epic failure we have insulted decent, upstanding conservative Real Americans everywhere. But thanks to their vigilance, we have seen that we were in error, and on everyone’s behalf I offer this apology. Now please don’t keep calling us the “liberal media”. You know how that makes us cry.
Well, I was pretty pissed off reading yet another iteration of this crap. Now the hysteria over ACORN is going meta, evidently. So to exorcise my frustration I sent an e-mail, which I’ll put up here. I hope I expressed myself well, not that I think it matters with these people:
I can’t believe what I just read here.
If you think the ACORN story merited even one significant story space, you must think we need the equivalent of hundreds of front pages, every day, to cover the crimes and corruption of Blackwater, Halliburton, KBR, Pfizer, and of course the ongoing crimes of Wall Street.
You have to think this if you have even a child’s sense of proportion.
That you would instead engage in this most vile kind of false equivalence, that some trivial stupidity on the part of a trivial organization is the journalistic and moral equivalent of trillions of dollars in corrupt bank bailouts and defense contracts, shows how despicably far you personally and the Times itself have fallen from any ideal of journalism or even simple human decency.
I’d be inclined to attribute it to cowardice in the face of right wing thuggery, and certainly you are such cowards. They sure know how to play you: demanding coverage for their obsessions; screaming that the coverage is biased; all the while absurdly calling you (by any historical standard a rightist newspaper, and a rightist media in general) the “liberal media”, a patent absurdity that you happily embrace. Yes, they know who they’re bullying.
(Are you historically ignorant as well? Do you not know how ACORN has been a right wing obsession for decades? Not because it has accomplished much by the measure of power, but because of the principle, because of what it’s trying to accomplish, which is to help empower the weakest, poorest people.)
But far more it’s simply that your corporate media, every bit as much as the political parties, are the bought and paid for flunkies of these criminal corporations.
That’s of course why Congress rushed to pass an unconstitutional bill of attainder against ACORN, and the IRS cut ties with them, even as the Blackwater State Dept. contract is happily renewed without a whisper of protest.
Why is ACORN being crucified for spitting on the sidewalk while Blackwater remains the privileged darling even after committing literal and figurative massacres? It’s very simple: because ACORN actually exists to help the poor and the weak. How quaint. How strange.
That’s why you in the corporate media always despised them and laughed at them in principle: because your mission has become to comfort the powerful and afflict the afflicted.
And that’s why, when ACORN is found to have done something silly but trivial compared to real corporate crimes, the right wing screams out the standard equivalence lie.
And when the media didn’t jump to with enough alacrity, when the thugs demand still more blood, we now have the “public editor” of all people solemnly intoning that the Times did indeed not sufficiently emphasize this pivotal story of our times.
I’d say you should be ashamed of yourself, if I thought shame any longer existed in this prostituted country.
If you don’t get that corporate power is the enemy of everything American, everything decent, everything human, and that the measure of any constructive action, and especially of journalism, to whatever meager extent it still exists, is to act on behalf of the public interest against this anti-public interest power, then you are utterly worthless to anyone other than those predatory interests.
I used to worry about the plight of “traditional journalism”. How there would no longer be serious reporting if the traditional newspapers went down.
No longer.
Now I know real journalism exists only among alternative outlets like TomDispatch and the Nation. As for the corporate media, real journalism, whose core, objective, professional mission includes comforting the afflicted and afflicting the powerful, and most of all a commitment to truth, including the moral truths of proportion and true equivalence, is dead there.
Oh, there may still be good, important stories sometimes reported there. But these are accidents. They do not arise out of an underlying commitment to truth or to the public.
The real commitment of the mainstream media, including that of the NYTimes and its Potemkin Public Editor, is to the aggrandizement of the corporate power.
And yet all this vile subservience isn’t helping with your advertising rates. How ironic. How poetic. Does it seem worth it?
To repeat: Anyone who truly cares about reporting on corruption and abuse among government-funded groups could fill the front page for the next thousand years with nothing but stories on big corporations and powerful interest groups, while the likes of ACORN and what it’s accused of would never merit more than a blurb on page 17. This would constitute true objectivity, true lack of any bias other than the humanistic.
Anyone who says differently has another agenda, and a far more nefarious bias. 


  1. Well. You certainly brought the AWESOME in this letter : )

    Comment by juliet — September 28, 2009 @ 8:32 am

  2. Thanks!

    Comment by Russ — September 28, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

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