September 22, 2009
The New York Times Aims LowBy Stuart Schwartz
"We Suck Less."
This is the catchphrase used by New York Times publisher Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr. to describe his operating and journalism philosophy. It is his "pet" expression, throwing out the initials "W.S.L." in answer to those who comment upon the dire straits of the news industry or complain about his stewardship of the newspaper he inherited.
This explains, in part, the screams this week by the Times, casting opposition to the policies of President Obama as racism. Disagree with the Democrat version of socialism? Racism. Object to awarding billions in taxpayer dollars to Acorn thugs? Racism. Oppose ObamaCare? Beat up two African-Americans and call me in the morning.
Racism, racism, racism, the Times shouts. Loud, one-sided, and dishonest coverage, you say? No matter, Pinch replies: We Suck Less" -- W.S.L. -- than the networks, the Washington Post, and Time, the elite media.
This is what you get when the head of a multi-billion dollar media business uses W.S.L. as a key strategy. On the editorial side, W.S.L has produced knee-jerk journalism, racial stereotyping, and lazy reporting. In operations, Pinch has "steered his inheritance into a ditch." The result: humiliating incompetence increasingly on display, American Thinker's Thomas Lifson observes.
W.S.L. does not produce excellence. A publisher who, as Vanity Fair put it, is "weak, pampered, (and) flawed" creates journalism with the same characteristics. This was on display last weekend when the Times repeatedly called Obama opponents racist.
Shouting "racism" is easier than authentic journalism, which involves investigation, planning and hard work. W.S.L. simply means opening the gate and letting the dogs out. And not just any dogs: these are pampered dogs, Upper West Side dogs, Manhattan dogs who reside, as the Times describes the area so many of its executives and writers call home, in the "land of nannies and poodles."
And the pampered poodles of the Times newsroom in the era of "We Suck Less" journalism are tugging against their diamond collars, straining against beaded angora sweaters, and yap, yap, yapping "racism!" Great journalism? No, but W.S.L
And so columnist Bob Herbert tells us that a black man in the White House has "so unsettled much of white America that the lid is coming off the racism" that is this nation. This "garbage" is a "scourge" spread by the "hate-mongers on talk radio" and the Internet.
No black can succeed in this racist nation, he says, especially the one in the White House. And the racists themselves are tools of a Republican Party that has historically engaged in "race-baiting" and "hatred" for political gain. Herbert: These people killed John F. Kennedy and they will do the same to Obama.
W.S.L. Forget that the protesters are upset about the expansion of government and loss of liberty, not presidential tint. And forget history: the precursors to Glenn Beck or Joe Wilson or Bill O'Reilly did not shoot John F. Kennedy; rather, it was an avowed communist who had defected to the Soviet Union, returned and murdered a staunchly anti-communist president.
Facts do not matter when you "suck less." Just stereotypes and derision, the journalism of Pinch's pampered poodles. Blacks cannot succeed in America, Herbert says. The African-American is downtrodden and ceaselessly attacked because of skin color, doomed to poverty. "We're hurtin' and there ain't much healin' on the horizon."
Bob Herbert, who is black, knows poverty. He leaves the Times at the end of the day, passing the Upper West Side neighborhoods bordering Central Park, where Pinch and Yoko Ono and "hotshot hedge-fund managers and financial tycoons" enjoy unadulterated luxury in the most expensive real estate in America. But he trudges past, black and doomed to....
Trump Place. Still in the Upper West Side, this is where Bob Herbert is imprisoned by the "stultifying bonds of bigotry" put in place by a society dominated by "garbage" and determined to hang onto its "racial and ethnic craziness." And where developer Donald Trump has enslaved him in a system that puts him a few floors away from where Bruce Willis had his $4 million condominium, similar to that of Herbert, and yet...not as desirable.
Again, the black takes it on the chin. White Willis has moved out and up to a condominium more than five times the value of the Herbert fifth floor apartment. Herbert, a short walk from the "state of the art fitness center" guarded by the "round-the-clock concierge staff," is left behind. Sure, he beds down in the "pinnacle" of Manhattan luxury high rise living, his master bath "marble-clad" and living room offering a "forever view" of the Hudson River.
But arching across that view of the Hudson is New Jersey. And the rage of the oppressed comes bubbling to the surface. Will Jon Gosselin, the recently divorced costar of the Jon and Kate Plus 8 reality series, look at New Jersey from the 700 square foot apartment he may rent for $40,000 a year? Does Willis?
No, it is the African-American, victimized by the "same old filthy racism," who has New Jersey in his "forever view." And out of this comes the rage that fuels the journalism of the Times. New Jersey?! Can it get any worse for the black man in America?
W.S.L. The ranks of Times columnists are filled with yapping poodles of privilege who, its publisher asserts, "suck less." Maureen Dowd and Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley, her best friend, travel from New York to a glitzy high-end spa in Miami, courtesy of Pinch, while the company implements massive layoffs. Meanwhile, Frank Rich, according to Slate, is a "lefty hero" who speaks of oppression and poverty with a "bruising style" shaped by the "authenticity of the Upper West Side." He is the Times equivalent of Michael Moore providing lessons on weight control.
And from the sixteenth floor of the Times tower, Pinch looks down on his vanishing empire, on the newsroom, on the columnists who form the heart of his editorial product and nods in contentment. "We Suck Less."
Stuart H. Schwartz is on the faculty at Liberty University in Virginia.