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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.
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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.