Cheap shots: a new low for the NYT

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The President of the United States is in China. In my local paper, the Chicago Tribune, there are two photos of his visit in the paper today. On the front page, there is a small photo with Bush and his counterpart, Chinese President Hu Jintao. Both are smiling following release of their joint statement. On the last page of the front section, there is  a large photo of President Bush biking with Chinese cyclists and Secret Service agents on the new Olympic biking course created for the 2008 Olympics.

So two photos — one properly diplomatic, the other showing the President engaged in vigorous physical activity. Bush's physician says he is among the top 1% for his age group in physical fitness.The bike ride was undoubtedly not a leisurely romp .

Then there is the New York Times. Filling two columns and three quarters of the front page, top to bottom, is a series of 4 full color photos of Bush walking towards a  door following a meeting with reporters, finding the door locked (and grimacing) ,and then being directed to a different exit, and finally walking out of that one.

Clearly, the message the Times is trying to deliver is "Bush is an idiot. He can't even find his way out of a room on his own."

The second photo, as Bush tries to open the locked door, can only be described as despicable: the President looks like a monster, with his mouth twisted (the AP photographer, Charles Dharapak, was probably getting high fives from his news comrades for catching this).

Why would any editor (this is you Bill Keller) find this newsworthy? Is it the most revealing photo of the President's visit? Have any Times editors ever tried to open a locked door in their lives? Is this a big deal? Worthy of most of two columns on the front page, and in color?

There is only one conclusion — the loathing of the President by the Times has reached a level where anything that can humiliate the man will be used. Why else would the Times give up two  front page columns for these photos? If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, this will get Times readers to laugh at Bush, of course, and feel comfortable in their inflated sense of moral and intellectual superiority. 

If you want some funny and humiliating  photos, maybe we can suit up Bill Keller, Gail Collins and Paul Krugman, and have them ride bikes on the Olympic cycling course.

Richard Baehr  11 21 05

The President of the United States is in China. In my local paper, the Chicago Tribune, there are two photos of his visit in the paper today. On the front page, there is a small photo with Bush and his counterpart, Chinese President Hu Jintao. Both are smiling following release of their joint statement. On the last page of the front section, there is  a large photo of President Bush biking with Chinese cyclists and Secret Service agents on the new Olympic biking course created for the 2008 Olympics.

So two photos — one properly diplomatic, the other showing the President engaged in vigorous physical activity. Bush's physician says he is among the top 1% for his age group in physical fitness.The bike ride was undoubtedly not a leisurely romp .

Then there is the New York Times. Filling two columns and three quarters of the front page, top to bottom, is a series of 4 full color photos of Bush walking towards a  door following a meeting with reporters, finding the door locked (and grimacing) ,and then being directed to a different exit, and finally walking out of that one.

Clearly, the message the Times is trying to deliver is "Bush is an idiot. He can't even find his way out of a room on his own."

The second photo, as Bush tries to open the locked door, can only be described as despicable: the President looks like a monster, with his mouth twisted (the AP photographer, Charles Dharapak, was probably getting high fives from his news comrades for catching this).

Why would any editor (this is you Bill Keller) find this newsworthy? Is it the most revealing photo of the President's visit? Have any Times editors ever tried to open a locked door in their lives? Is this a big deal? Worthy of most of two columns on the front page, and in color?

There is only one conclusion — the loathing of the President by the Times has reached a level where anything that can humiliate the man will be used. Why else would the Times give up two  front page columns for these photos? If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, this will get Times readers to laugh at Bush, of course, and feel comfortable in their inflated sense of moral and intellectual superiority. 

If you want some funny and humiliating  photos, maybe we can suit up Bill Keller, Gail Collins and Paul Krugman, and have them ride bikes on the Olympic cycling course.

Richard Baehr  11 21 05