August 29, 2010

Kleptodicy and the NYT’s New Public Editor

Filed under: Mainstream Media — Tags: , — Russ @ 7:52 am


Scold, scourge, wreaker of cold justice: apparently, that’s what’s expected of the public editor.

With those words the NYT’s new Public Editor, Arthur Brisbane, kicks off his tenure. If only it were so.
He describes an introductory interview with an NYT reporter, his own nervousness over everyone demanding to know, “Why would you want this job?” It is hard to understand why Brisbane’s predecessors wanted it. So far the job has been mostly to go through the motions of pretending to impose accountability, mostly in the eyes of organized conservatives, while pretending the paper’s real class war agenda doesn’t exist.
The pro-bank ideology of the business page and the paper’s general war-mongering propaganda, both of which dominate the alleged reportage, seldom comes under the “public editor’s” purview. Clark Hoyt was far more comfortable joining in with the NYT’s campaign to destroy ACORN than he ever would have been of forced to deal with the paper’s reportage of the Peterson/Obama assault on Social Security and democracy.

The public editor is a radical concept.

Um, no, it’s a self-evident, common sense concept among people of good will. It’s radical only among criminals.
If I were the one asking the questions my first would be:
Do you believe the core job of a journalist is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, as Murrow put it?
Brisbane’s own statement of principle, such as it is, doesn’t inspire confidence:

And, so you know, I do bring certain articles of belief to this.

I believe a news organization needs to be aggressive. When caution trumps ambition, something dies.

I believe there is no conspiracy. Neither Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. nor Bill Keller is the Wizard of Oz, dictating an agenda from behind a screen. Rather, The Times comes together like parallel computing: many lines simultaneously flowing through a filter, hitting the driveway and flashing on a screen. It is very messy.

I believe that journalists should leave their political views at the door when they report and edit the news. I’m a registered Democrat who voted for Barack Obama and then Scott Brown, so, as you can see, I have already left my views at the door!

Those sure are peculiar “articles of belief”. Notice the total lack of any proclaimed principle. It’s purely process, purely instrumental. “Aggressive” – on behalf of what? “Ambition” to do what?
The very fact of this lacuna here implies what really fills it: The NYT’s mission is to preserve, and do what it can to intensify and entrench, the corporatist status quo. This is its ambition, and it is aggressive in the service of this ambition.
As for the “conspiracy theory” strawman, obviously once the whole cadre’s been selected for a certain ideology and even more for a certain temperament and mindset, there’s little need for a Keller to still play the Wizard of Oz. In the same way, Dimon and Blankfein probably don’t need to micromanage everything Keller, or Obama, does. (Although all those phone calls with Geithner are ambiguous evidence. Is Geithner really such a pathetic tool that he needs such constant guidance, or maybe emotional validation?)
Of course I do accept that execution at the NYT is often sloppy, which contrary to Brisbane’s assertion is not evidence of the absence of agenda, but only of incompetence in execution.
Brisbane’s disclosure about his voting habits, if true, is questionable. He seems to think it should be impressive that he’s a registered Dem who voted for Obama and then for the Republican in a pseudo-critical Senate race. (The criticality being bogus because the “60 vote” meme is fraudulent in every way; nobody with a simple majority ever needed more than 51 vote for anything, and once the Dems had their mythical 60 votes it served mainly to embarrass them, since they still had no intention of passing reform legislation.)
It’s of course discreditable that somebody so allegedly experienced and intelligent, who allegedly cares about the public interest, would still be supporting either kleptocratic party. (It’s another version of the theodicy question, which clearly has no valid answer. Brisbane must either lack intelligence, or else he actually doesn’t care about the people but only the elites. The same applies to all who call themselves Democrats or support them. What should we call it -“kleptodicy”?)
Here’s a suggestion for Brisbane, if he really wanted to be this public interest ombudsman. He could start with today’s spotlight editorial on Obama’s feckless economic policy.

First, he needs to keep driving home that he is committed to addressing the deficit…

It’s of course a lie that from the point of view of the non-rich the deficit as such is any problem at all, let alone “the first”, most pressing problem.
On the contrary the overwhelming weight of practical experience as well as theory prove that in a Depression the government should spend as long as such spending is directly for the people’s well-being. Getting money into the people’s hands, where it will then be productively spent, is the only practical and moral measure, if one truly wants to avert the worst of an economic downturn, if one truly wants the public good. (By contrast corporate welfare spending like the Bailout, the permanent war, Pentagon budgets, Big Ag subsidies, etc. do nothing to help the people or reinvigorate economic circulation. These are just ratholes where potentially productive wealth goes to die. Typically, it’s precisely this kind of spending which is “off the table” for Obama’s deficit terrorist commission.)
But just like the rest of the MSM, just like the business and political elites in whose service the MSM plays its stenographer role, the NYT systematically engages in deficit terrorism. This is because it does not want the people’s well-being, it does not want productive circulation of money, it does not want to avert the Depression.
On the contrary it wants the further unproductive concentration of wealth. It wants to help the gangster elite further loot the people. It wants the Depression to come in slowly, its harshness proceeding at just the right pace such that the people feel helpless before inexorable fate, but not so fast that they lash out in hopeless desperation. (Again, this is no “conspiracy theory”, there’s no need for a master wirepuller; the whole cadre by training and temperament is on board with the project, and once you accept the premise the strategy and tactics are obvious enough that an ideological version of the invisible hand goes to work. The messiness in the execution is simply the difference between best practice and the competence to carry it out.)
Deficit terrorism is meant to directly afford new looting opportunities, to misdirect the people’s attention from real problems toward fake scapegoats and fraudulent “solutions” (to the people’s credit, they seem to be rejecting the propaganda of Obama’s Social Security privatization campaign), and to shred what little is left of any kind of socioeconomic stability and sense of security.
The NYT, as an aggressive practitioner of deficit terrrorsim, is a conscious traitor against the people. As I said, experience and proven theory both prove every word of it to be a Big Lie. So will the new ombudsman make this his main project, and really act as a Public Editor? Or will he pack his columns with controversies over the social gossip blogs, the way Hoyt loved to do? Will he, like his predecessors, act as the “public editor”? I know what I expect from a guy who votes for Obama and Scott Brown and who talks in the sociopathic way of the above quote about unprincipled ambition and aggression.


  1. In the end the “Public Editor” job is to project the image of some sort of independent and objective journalistic entity. Nothing, as you well know, could be further from the truth. The NYT is a private corporation and their unstated mission statement is to crystallize Bourgeoisie public opinion towards the interests of their Rentier class advertisers. End of story. This Public Editor clown is just recognition that the NYT will do a better job in converting public opinion if they are able to project an aura of objectivity.

    Comment by Kevin de Bruxelles — August 29, 2010 @ 10:19 am

    • Yup. I’ve never heard of any of these ombudsmen (at any of the outlets that ran out to get them) actually doing a real ombudsman’s job.

      Comment by Russ — August 29, 2010 @ 11:06 am

  2. Hard to argue with any of this, but when did you expect anything of the NYT? This is not to say that newspapers can’t be useful; just don’t read them.

    Comment by jake chase — August 29, 2010 @ 10:27 am

    • Yes, and the more people who learn that the better. (Although I don’t know if people who come across this blog are likely to have any illusions about the MSM. Maybe not.)

      Comment by Russ — August 29, 2010 @ 11:09 am

      • I read the article.
        Kudos to you for setting something off in my head for the first time that I had been wondering about for quite some time…
        Where does conspiracy theory come from ? How does it get going ?
        I think that as irony would have it CONSPIRACY THEORY IS A SYMPTOM of the increasing ideological UNIFORMISATION in our societies.
        Totalitarian structure, CONCENTRATING TOWARDS the “one” entity responsible.
        Concentration of blame.
        So… conspiracy theory actually participates in precisely what it THEORETICALLY is attempting to fight.
        Cute, huh ?
        You may not be blaming ANY ONE INDIVIDUAL in this post, but you are attaching SOLE responsibility for the economic situation to ONE CLASS, and that is similar, in my mind.
        When you start hanging out with LOTS OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE in flesh and blood, well, you meet the 50 year old French immigrant from Morocco who is revving up to vote for the obnoxious right wing party that spits on immigrants because they will restore LAW AND ORDER in the country, and flatten all the young second and third generation North African brats who refuse to behave LIKE HE DID when he got to France, and want some social status, and upward mobility.
        My mother in law says… life is complicated.
        It’s a very good maxim. Life is VERY COMPLICATED.
        Our thinking and analysis should reflect life’s complication, and not try to draw EVERYTHING together under one uniformized idea.
        By the way, this criticism goes for many of the so-called economic blogs out there, not just yours.

        Comment by Debra — August 30, 2010 @ 3:21 am

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