Would You Write for the New York Times?

One of the nice things about Facebook is that I get to converse online with kindred souls facing the same dearth of paid writing assignments in this economy.  One recent conversation turned to the current journalistic reporting on the Tucson massacre and the lack of integrity in the mainstream media.  I wrote an op-ed column for the New York Sun from 2002 to 2008 until it folded during the economic meltdown; its demise was the end of decent reporting in New York City.  It's been a financial struggle for me since then, but I would like to think that my principles are still intact.  Still, when the hypothetical question was posed to all of us about whether we'd write for the New York Times, I was surprised to find that many of my correspondents found this possibility a viable and even enviable choice.

I nearly fell on the floor from the very idea of how ridiculous that notion was, but the woman who proffered that option pointed out why the Times might have to expand its audience by diversifying its staff and why it wasn't such an inconceivable idea to consider.  Circulation for the Grey Lady was down, and the woman rationalized that with Hispanics now the largest minority in the country, and with me being one of the few Hispanic female op-ed writers in New York City...well, why not?

In addition, she reminded me that Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu had purchased 6.5% of the New York Times -- and wouldn't he have some influence there?  I had to remind her that I was a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy, and the New York Times already has a pseudo-conservative token on staff: David Brooks.  Case closed.

Later that evening, I daydreamed about winning the mega millions lottery and how I'd spend 36 million dollars.  I'd pay off my mortgage, all my debts, buy homes for my children -- and believe me, this fantasizing was far more realistic than the idea of Pinch Sulzberger offering me a job.  Nevertheless, I had to play devil's advocate with myself and ponder what it would be like to write for the most influential newspaper in the world.  "Hello, this is so-and-so from the New York Times."  That's a real door-opener, and yet....

I recall when the New York Times was a bona fide prestigious and noble member of the Fourth Estate.  In high school, we learned how to crease the paper on the columns so as to read it discretely without disturbing those seated next to us on the subway.  I became a huge fan when its columnist James Reston endorsed JFK for the presidency in 1960.  As a freshman in college, I fell in love with the Sunday crossword puzzle, and as an adult, I subscribed to the weekend edition just for the pleasure of working on it.

That love affair ended in 1992, when I learned that the alleged "commie-pinko rag" was in fact a commie pinko rag -- i.e., when Arthur Ochs " Pinch" Sulzberger took over the reins.  This was the antiwar activist who, when asked by his father about his preference should an American soldier run into a Viet Cong soldier, said, "I would want to see the American get shot. It's the other guy's country."  

Of course, Sulzberger's remark was not unique, given the anti-American sentiment of the liberal elite ever since the dawn of the Vietnam War era.  On an edition of the PBS panel series "Ethics in America" devoted to war coverage and taped at Harvard in late 1987, Mike Wallace proclaimed that if he were traveling with enemy soldiers, he would not warn U.S. soldiers of an impending ambush.  When challenged about his statement that his higher duty was as an American, he answered, "No, you don't have higher duty...you're a reporter."

I can't imagine what Ernie Pyle, the famed WWII war correspondent, would think about that statement.  Pyle was killed by a sniper's bullet while covering the war and embedded with the American troops he chronicled.  His duty was to report to the American people what their sons were enduring.  He certainly would not be traveling with the enemy.  But that's what  many Americans feel the mainstream media, especially the New York Times, is doing -- traveling and siding with the enemy and forgetting that they are Americans.

It disturbs me to think that my fellow writers would even consider working for a publication that is constantly undermining our national security at every opportunity.  The New York Times has published classified information on covert CIA operations under the guise of the public's right to know despite the fact that the public at large doesn't want to jeopardize our national interests.

Last week's Times exclusively reported that the Stuxnet virus which had infected and delayed Iran's nuclear program for years was part of an American-Israeli initiative authorized by the Bush administration.  Typically, the article suggested that President Obama had strengthened the brilliant project even though Obama has shown no interest in supporting Israel.  No doubt the idea of giving Bush any credit was anathema to this left-leaning newspaper, whose motto, "all the news that's fit to print," has morphed into "any news that fits our agenda, we print."

I can't count how many e-mails I received from readers of the Sun who related how they had canceled their subscription to the NY Times.  I have since wondered if they returned to subsidizing the near-treasonous newspaper when the NY Sun stopped publishing its print version.

As for the answer to that question: a journalist with any integrity and a love for this country should be answering, "No, no, a thousand times no."
One of the nice things about Facebook is that I get to converse online with kindred souls facing the same dearth of paid writing assignments in this economy.  One recent conversation turned to the current journalistic reporting on the Tucson massacre and the lack of integrity in the mainstream media.  I wrote an op-ed column for the New York Sun from 2002 to 2008 until it folded during the economic meltdown; its demise was the end of decent reporting in New York City.  It's been a financial struggle for me since then, but I would like to think that my principles are still intact.  Still, when the hypothetical question was posed to all of us about whether we'd write for the New York Times, I was surprised to find that many of my correspondents found this possibility a viable and even enviable choice.

I nearly fell on the floor from the very idea of how ridiculous that notion was, but the woman who proffered that option pointed out why the Times might have to expand its audience by diversifying its staff and why it wasn't such an inconceivable idea to consider.  Circulation for the Grey Lady was down, and the woman rationalized that with Hispanics now the largest minority in the country, and with me being one of the few Hispanic female op-ed writers in New York City...well, why not?

In addition, she reminded me that Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu had purchased 6.5% of the New York Times -- and wouldn't he have some influence there?  I had to remind her that I was a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy, and the New York Times already has a pseudo-conservative token on staff: David Brooks.  Case closed.

Later that evening, I daydreamed about winning the mega millions lottery and how I'd spend 36 million dollars.  I'd pay off my mortgage, all my debts, buy homes for my children -- and believe me, this fantasizing was far more realistic than the idea of Pinch Sulzberger offering me a job.  Nevertheless, I had to play devil's advocate with myself and ponder what it would be like to write for the most influential newspaper in the world.  "Hello, this is so-and-so from the New York Times."  That's a real door-opener, and yet....

I recall when the New York Times was a bona fide prestigious and noble member of the Fourth Estate.  In high school, we learned how to crease the paper on the columns so as to read it discretely without disturbing those seated next to us on the subway.  I became a huge fan when its columnist James Reston endorsed JFK for the presidency in 1960.  As a freshman in college, I fell in love with the Sunday crossword puzzle, and as an adult, I subscribed to the weekend edition just for the pleasure of working on it.

That love affair ended in 1992, when I learned that the alleged "commie-pinko rag" was in fact a commie pinko rag -- i.e., when Arthur Ochs " Pinch" Sulzberger took over the reins.  This was the antiwar activist who, when asked by his father about his preference should an American soldier run into a Viet Cong soldier, said, "I would want to see the American get shot. It's the other guy's country."  

Of course, Sulzberger's remark was not unique, given the anti-American sentiment of the liberal elite ever since the dawn of the Vietnam War era.  On an edition of the PBS panel series "Ethics in America" devoted to war coverage and taped at Harvard in late 1987, Mike Wallace proclaimed that if he were traveling with enemy soldiers, he would not warn U.S. soldiers of an impending ambush.  When challenged about his statement that his higher duty was as an American, he answered, "No, you don't have higher duty...you're a reporter."

I can't imagine what Ernie Pyle, the famed WWII war correspondent, would think about that statement.  Pyle was killed by a sniper's bullet while covering the war and embedded with the American troops he chronicled.  His duty was to report to the American people what their sons were enduring.  He certainly would not be traveling with the enemy.  But that's what  many Americans feel the mainstream media, especially the New York Times, is doing -- traveling and siding with the enemy and forgetting that they are Americans.

It disturbs me to think that my fellow writers would even consider working for a publication that is constantly undermining our national security at every opportunity.  The New York Times has published classified information on covert CIA operations under the guise of the public's right to know despite the fact that the public at large doesn't want to jeopardize our national interests.

Last week's Times exclusively reported that the Stuxnet virus which had infected and delayed Iran's nuclear program for years was part of an American-Israeli initiative authorized by the Bush administration.  Typically, the article suggested that President Obama had strengthened the brilliant project even though Obama has shown no interest in supporting Israel.  No doubt the idea of giving Bush any credit was anathema to this left-leaning newspaper, whose motto, "all the news that's fit to print," has morphed into "any news that fits our agenda, we print."

I can't count how many e-mails I received from readers of the Sun who related how they had canceled their subscription to the NY Times.  I have since wondered if they returned to subsidizing the near-treasonous newspaper when the NY Sun stopped publishing its print version.

As for the answer to that question: a journalist with any integrity and a love for this country should be answering, "No, no, a thousand times no."

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