Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...


Sunday, February 01, 2004  

Since 40% of Americans will be watching football in a couple of hours, I suppose I should mention the Super Bowl.

Now that that's out of the way, something more interesting. In two months, progressives will know whom they support for President--it'll be the Dem still standing. But right now, caught in the crossfire between strategy and ideals, we still debate. Lawrence is sticking with Kucinich, even while dodgier bloggers jump ship to Dean. (According to Lawrence, Dean "has a temper, he is reckless in many of the things that he says, he is willing to waffle and over-compromise with the Republicans, he is likely to choose political calculation over principle.")

We may not agree on the prescription, but I think Lawrence has the diagnosis right (sorry--I'll quit with the docspeak once the doc's gone):

There is a big difference between politicians who cave in to the opposition for political opportunity, versus those who work out compromises based on principles, when the opposition has more votes. Had Clinton been a politician full of principle, when his health care plan got shot down, he would have come back with another, one that answered some of the criticism leveled at the first.

(Incidentally, he wrote that three weeks ago--long before Dean trashed Trippi for Neel. Looking pretty prescient, L.)

I also noticed that the Times is flogging itself.

In the last several weeks, three stories launched elsewhere have been either diminished or disregarded by The Times. (Of course, among major news organizations, this not-invented-here attitude is no more exclusive to The Times than are commas.) In each case, the effort to maintain a high level of what people around here call "competitive metabolism'' has not served the readers well.

This is from the Public Editor, who cites the examples of the Toledo Blade's story of the Tiger Force slaughter of Vietnamese villagers; the Paul O'Neill revelations, and the Post's coverage of Iraq's on-paper-only WMD arsenal.

But if I may: the Times has again missed the point. Navel-gazing and self-flagellation seems par for the course lately, but good journalism less so. In the past two years, and particularly since late 2002, the Times has been breaking fewer stories than its more ambitious colleagues. The Globe recently announced that the GOP had been (possibily illegally) eavesdropping on the Democrats. The LA Times has been a reliable source of orginal news, and the Post remains the gold standard on press critical of the President's handling of the war.

The Post, in fact, offers a nice contrast to the Times. While they endorsed the war and backed the President, they have also been the most critical of him since, including the likelihood that he misled everyone. Had the Times felt similarly guilty about backing the war, I expect we would just have received an apology. I prefer the news.

posted by Jeff | 1:08 PM |
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