Calame-brain

The New York Times is rapidly becoming a parody of its former status as the newspaper of record. Today's column by Byron* Calame (pronounced "Kuh—lame"), ombudsman ('public editor') for the Times, certainly reads like a parody, an embarrasing wet—kiss to readers and editors. Or maybe it is a cry for help, such as might be made by a hostage with a gun to her head, unable to say directly that she is in trouble, but signaling distress by answering a knock at the door with an implausible statement.

Byron* gets only two columns a month in which to deal with the enormous volume of complaints about the bias in the New York Times. Paul Krugman's lies and evasive corrections requiring more corrections. The paper's failure to deal with the Air America scandal, after puffing the network so vigorously at its launch. This past week, the paper raised many an eyebrow with its ludicrous coverage, when it finally broke its silence on a major developing scandal involving home state senior Senator Chuck Schumer.

Two staffers of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, headed by Schumer, may have committed felonies by illegally accessing the credit reports of Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, an African—American Republican, who is the likely candidate for Senate in 2006. Schumer kept them on the payroll after their confessions, and has even been bankrolling their legal defense, which suggests that they are not rogues, but were following DSCC direction. This might suggest that Steele is not the only victim. The implications are enormous.

For more than two weeks, the Times maintained a blackout on the story. This is scandalous enough. Brit Hume, of Fox News, began a running count of the Times' silence on the scandal, noting how many days it had denied its readers knowledge of their senior Senator's responsibility for and possible involvement in an apparent criminal dirty tricks operation.

Finally, this week, the Times broke its silence, but in a manner that elicited guffaws. It's all about the GOP, you see. Here's the lede, which appeared on page 20:

National Republicans, who face an uphill battle in their efforts to capture the open United States Senate seat in heavily Democratic Maryland next year, are trying to exploit potential legal problems that Democrats are now suddenly facing in that race.

Not until the final sixteenth paragraph does the name of Senator Schumer enter the story. Brit Hume could barely suppress a laugh as he reported this farcical spin to his national audience of political junkies.

So what does Byron* write about, in his first opportunity to address for print readers the paper's coverage? Why he tells them they are a really splendid bunch of people, intelligent, rich, and curious. Not curious in the sense of weird, but possessing curiosity about the world around them. Except, of course, curiosity about any scandals which might envelop their senior Senator. Obviously that is certainly nothing of importance comparable to, say, the male—only policies of a golf tournament in Georgia.

Readers of the paper are a fairly upscale group. They are nearly three times as likely as the average U.S. adult to have a college or postgraduate degree and more than twice as likely to hold a professional or managerial position, an analysis by Mediamark Research shows. Readers of the paper are more than twice as likely as the average U.S. adult to have annual household income exceeding $100,000. (For more information about the demographics of Times readers, click here.)

The link, which works only erratically for me (nice metaphor for the Times news coverage, no?), takes one to a page used to promote advertising in the Times. Nothing like shilling for business, instead of addressing genuine problems in the news coverage.

But maybe Byron* is afraid of those layoffs in the newsroom. Ombudsmen are not exactly a necessity. Plummeting circulation (the Times is now in third place for newspaper readership in New York City) doesn't help anyone's job security, especially now that department stores display ads, movie ads, classified job ads, and other mainstays of newspaper advertising revenue are in a steep decline.

It all looks like a bizarre exercise in self—esteem enhancement, the sort of thing that the education establishment substitutes for real learning.

"I think of The Times reader as curious, as someone who regards life as a continuing education," Mr. Keller [editor Bill Keller] wrote. "Each reader has a few subjects about which he or she may be passionate, even expert, and a more wide—ranging appetite that can be seduced, surprised, engaged on almost any subject if we present it well."

Dan Wakin, a culture reporter, wrote that readers who pick up the paper "have an inherent curiosity as part of their basic intellectual makeup." For John Geddes, a managing editor, this means "They're curious about the world around them — the 'why' behind an event or a trend." Added Jonathan Landman, deputy managing editor, "They're curious (and this is crucial, and not so common these days), interested in stuff that happens outside their own lives."

After putting the curiosity of Times readers at the top of his list of their notable attributes, Mr. Keller cited four others. "Second, I think of our readers as people who use the news. They are engaged. ... Third, I think of our typical reader as somewhat skeptical. ... Fourth, I think our readers are busy and jealous of their time. ... Fifth, I think of The Times reader as someone who loves the language."

So instead of informing his readers of any problems with the Times' news coverage, Calame resorts to flattery, like a husband with lipstick on his collar telling his wife that she looks like she's lost weight.

Of course, it is the Times which has lost heft. The death spiral continues.

*Unaccountably, I substituted "Barney" for "Byron" when I wrote the article, despite having the name of the subject before my very eyes as I wrote. I suppose that a certain purple dinosaur is somehow indelibly identified in my mind with the subject of this article. Thanks to reader Ron Joseph for bringing this to my attention.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.

The New York Times is rapidly becoming a parody of its former status as the newspaper of record. Today's column by Byron* Calame (pronounced "Kuh—lame"), ombudsman ('public editor') for the Times, certainly reads like a parody, an embarrasing wet—kiss to readers and editors. Or maybe it is a cry for help, such as might be made by a hostage with a gun to her head, unable to say directly that she is in trouble, but signaling distress by answering a knock at the door with an implausible statement.

Byron* gets only two columns a month in which to deal with the enormous volume of complaints about the bias in the New York Times. Paul Krugman's lies and evasive corrections requiring more corrections. The paper's failure to deal with the Air America scandal, after puffing the network so vigorously at its launch. This past week, the paper raised many an eyebrow with its ludicrous coverage, when it finally broke its silence on a major developing scandal involving home state senior Senator Chuck Schumer.

Two staffers of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, headed by Schumer, may have committed felonies by illegally accessing the credit reports of Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, an African—American Republican, who is the likely candidate for Senate in 2006. Schumer kept them on the payroll after their confessions, and has even been bankrolling their legal defense, which suggests that they are not rogues, but were following DSCC direction. This might suggest that Steele is not the only victim. The implications are enormous.

For more than two weeks, the Times maintained a blackout on the story. This is scandalous enough. Brit Hume, of Fox News, began a running count of the Times' silence on the scandal, noting how many days it had denied its readers knowledge of their senior Senator's responsibility for and possible involvement in an apparent criminal dirty tricks operation.

Finally, this week, the Times broke its silence, but in a manner that elicited guffaws. It's all about the GOP, you see. Here's the lede, which appeared on page 20:

National Republicans, who face an uphill battle in their efforts to capture the open United States Senate seat in heavily Democratic Maryland next year, are trying to exploit potential legal problems that Democrats are now suddenly facing in that race.

Not until the final sixteenth paragraph does the name of Senator Schumer enter the story. Brit Hume could barely suppress a laugh as he reported this farcical spin to his national audience of political junkies.

So what does Byron* write about, in his first opportunity to address for print readers the paper's coverage? Why he tells them they are a really splendid bunch of people, intelligent, rich, and curious. Not curious in the sense of weird, but possessing curiosity about the world around them. Except, of course, curiosity about any scandals which might envelop their senior Senator. Obviously that is certainly nothing of importance comparable to, say, the male—only policies of a golf tournament in Georgia.

Readers of the paper are a fairly upscale group. They are nearly three times as likely as the average U.S. adult to have a college or postgraduate degree and more than twice as likely to hold a professional or managerial position, an analysis by Mediamark Research shows. Readers of the paper are more than twice as likely as the average U.S. adult to have annual household income exceeding $100,000. (For more information about the demographics of Times readers, click here.)

The link, which works only erratically for me (nice metaphor for the Times news coverage, no?), takes one to a page used to promote advertising in the Times. Nothing like shilling for business, instead of addressing genuine problems in the news coverage.

But maybe Byron* is afraid of those layoffs in the newsroom. Ombudsmen are not exactly a necessity. Plummeting circulation (the Times is now in third place for newspaper readership in New York City) doesn't help anyone's job security, especially now that department stores display ads, movie ads, classified job ads, and other mainstays of newspaper advertising revenue are in a steep decline.

It all looks like a bizarre exercise in self—esteem enhancement, the sort of thing that the education establishment substitutes for real learning.

"I think of The Times reader as curious, as someone who regards life as a continuing education," Mr. Keller [editor Bill Keller] wrote. "Each reader has a few subjects about which he or she may be passionate, even expert, and a more wide—ranging appetite that can be seduced, surprised, engaged on almost any subject if we present it well."

Dan Wakin, a culture reporter, wrote that readers who pick up the paper "have an inherent curiosity as part of their basic intellectual makeup." For John Geddes, a managing editor, this means "They're curious about the world around them — the 'why' behind an event or a trend." Added Jonathan Landman, deputy managing editor, "They're curious (and this is crucial, and not so common these days), interested in stuff that happens outside their own lives."

After putting the curiosity of Times readers at the top of his list of their notable attributes, Mr. Keller cited four others. "Second, I think of our readers as people who use the news. They are engaged. ... Third, I think of our typical reader as somewhat skeptical. ... Fourth, I think our readers are busy and jealous of their time. ... Fifth, I think of The Times reader as someone who loves the language."

So instead of informing his readers of any problems with the Times' news coverage, Calame resorts to flattery, like a husband with lipstick on his collar telling his wife that she looks like she's lost weight.

Of course, it is the Times which has lost heft. The death spiral continues.

*Unaccountably, I substituted "Barney" for "Byron" when I wrote the article, despite having the name of the subject before my very eyes as I wrote. I suppose that a certain purple dinosaur is somehow indelibly identified in my mind with the subject of this article. Thanks to reader Ron Joseph for bringing this to my attention.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.