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November 10, 2005


This explains a hell of a lot of the NYT escalating downward spiral, dud'n it?


I think it ultimately comes back to Pinch, not a profile Keller did of Wolfie. Foer had another interesting thing to say in his post:

I also hope that Pinch Sulzberger comes to terms with what just happened. While he may have defended Miller out of friendship, I doubt that's the whole case. Sulzberger jumped into the Miller fracas, because he wanted to prove himself. He was hungry for a crusade, eager to turn himself into a First Amendment crusader. And in a way, he shared the same weakness with Miller: a melodramatic urge to play the parts of Clark Kent and Lois Lane.

You know you've got a scandal on your hands when you have to invent new oxymorons to describe it. Welcome, "escalating downward spiral!"

Interesting, though, that Keller arrives at the conclusion quoted above, that there's real danger in corrupting the information-gathering machine, but that the danger is that it weakens us for the wars we still face.

It weakens us for everything we face, wars and otherwise.

Everyone has reason to be concerned when extra-legal methods of governance become routine. Conservative, liberal, what have you. If you've got an interest in the integrity and continuity of the civilian government of the United States of America, you've got an interest in rooting out this sort of corruption.

Interesting, then, to note who's working on that and who's not.

EW, a minor point...its Attytood, not Attywood :)

Shew, thanks eR. I'm working on the reading lessons.

That Wolfowitz profile was so very sympathetic, I remember it clearly, without realizing Keller wrote it. It explains a lot.

It is probably the case that those of us who don't live in NYC and/or have a cultural or personal interest in ME issues can never fully apprehend how much 9/11 colored peoples' thinking. But still. A newspaper just as much as a judge has to be scrupulous in being aware of biases and striving for true objectivity. The Times fell down just like a lot of other people who believed what they wanted to believe long after a healthy dose of skepticism should have warned them it just wasn't going to be true.

If there is anything we should ALL learn from this it is to constantly question conventional and received wisdom, and above all to stop making life so difficult for the serious questioners among us. The absolute vilification (truly puerile at times) that was visited on those who questioned the whole case for war, from WMD to Saddam's strength, was really beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse in a democracy, and it kept us from fully debating the case for war before it happened. It has cost the US very dearly in lives, treasure, prestige and allies. Although I do not by any means excuse the warmongering and deception by the Bush Administration, a special place should be reserved for those in politics, the punditry and the blogoshphere who were so partisan as to lose all perspective in vilifying those who were skeptical about the case for war. They (we) were right. Some of those voices had a great deal of expertise from which they were speaking and should NEVER have been dismissed with the disdain that was employed. That is the real lesson here--this isn't a playground game. There are real-world consequences, and right now they are downright ugly and getting uglier. There needs to be political accountability, but that isn't all.

One of the things that struck me about that profile, reading it now, is the degree to which Wolfie bought Keller's favor by bringing him along on all the mover and shaker visits:

The answer to that question remains a secret, if it has been decided at all. But on the way home from Fort Leavenworth at the end of July, we stopped at Scott Air Force Base, the military's main transportation dispatching hub, where Wolfowitz spent a couple of hours closeted with the men who, soon thereafter, began routing shipments of men and materiel to the gulf. Just in case.

This is an extreme form of embedding, to have a top columnist tote along with you on your war-launching trips. It strikes me as a quick way to get said columnist excited about the war.

The whole practice of embedding smelt of propoganda to me from the start. The show-businessification of the news. Of reality. If we don't know if what we're seeing, hearing and reading is real, we're all lost.

That's the essence of the Judy Miller story for me. And you're work in pulling back the curtain is a monument in blogdom, EW. Thank you.

emptywheel and i are on the same page: the problem starts with Pinch.

were i a shareholder, i'd want his head for damaging the paper's most valuable asset: its reputation.

but since newspapers are a declining industry, i'm not a shareholder.

Kudos to Emptywheel for the best Judy & Pinch analyses, anywhere, period.

Agreed, the real problem is Pinch. Or, more properly, the Pinch Family. Which explains how Judy kept drifting back to things, supposedly all on her own.

To depart a little from the Emptywheel approach, here's a snippet (from the link below) that some may find especially helpful:

"As is well known, the New York Times is Jewish-owned, and has often been accused of slanting its coverage on issues of importance to Jews. It is perhaps another example of the legacy of Jacob Schiff, the Jewish activist/philanthropist who backed Adolph Ochs's purchase of the New York Times in 1896 because he believed he 'could be of great service to the Jews generally.'"


If this has been the case, it is not so much a "corruption" of the info-gathering machine, as it is an inbuilt modus operandi. Keller may have had a hard time keeping his job, much less staying in line for promotions, had he not allowed himself to be "snowed" by Wolfowitz and Miller.

In retrospect, of course, it's debatable whether or not the Iraq War performed the "great service" that many had anticipated. But it's too late now, for Keller. Though it might not be too late, not quite, for Syria and Iran.

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