Thursday, August 12, 2010

That %@?#&% New York Times!

By John Howard

I would call the New York Times my “guilty pleasure” if there were any pleasure in it. But there isn’t. There is, though, plenty of guilt at having been a subscriber for thirty years. I just don’t have the heart to stop my subscription.

Call it sentimentality. Call it masochism. But it is a high maintenance habit.
Among the traits I love most among Americans is an acute sense of irony. Perhaps that explains the Times’ pretensions to objectivity. But I have to admit that if I did not have a sense of humor, it would probably drive me to distraction.
Maybe it is the unintentional humor in the pretentious lead editorials that presume to constitutional interpretation in such stentorian tones. The constitutional geniuses on the Times’ editorial board furnish analysis that might have inspired Holmes had he not actually given some thought to the meaning of the Constitution. Or actually read the Constitution. Or, for that matter, actually read. 
Or maybe it is the vapid prattle of Maureen Dowd – all vapors and venom – whose studied send up of Scarlett O’Hara wrapped together with a little Carrie Bradshaw – without, of course, the sex – is a bit cloying. But any suggestion of seriousness is belied by her preoccupation with the most inane features of popular culture. The very idea that from that vacuum could emerge anything passing for political analysis is beyond absurd. I almost expect her to finish each column with “fiddle dee dee”.
 I have, as have so many, tried to mollify my frustration by firing off the occasional letter to the editor, only increasing my irritation as I realize the futility of the act. We all know, don’t we, that the Times does not print letters from conservatives. In all the years the truthless Paul Krugman has been writing, not one letter critical of him from the right has appeared in the letters column. Not one. Is it really possible that the Times receives no letters critical of a man so dishonest that its own “Public Editor” criticized him for “slicing and dicing his facts” – a man so mendacious that the Times itself felt constrained to write a half page correction and apologize for him at one point?  The question not rhetorical. The answer is “no”.
There are a number of possible explanations, but the one I favor is this: maybe – just maybe – Krugman is the true voice of the Times; the angry, deranged howl of an increasingly irrelevant institution teetering on the precipice of oblivion and clinging to the slender reeds that keep it from tumbling to its death: occasional sedition and breathless exposés most of which don’t actually turn out to be true. (Recall the horrified announcement of the melting of polar ice that the Times reported had not happened in twenty thousand years (It actually happens every year.) and Krugman’s continued (and completely false) suggestion that recounts in Florida in 2000 would have yielded a Gore victory when the Times’ own consortium recounts showed that Bush would have won in three of the four methods of counting.
There is really no changing the New York Times. It has no capacity for intellectual growth. So we have come up with a solution. It is, a website devoted to sending messages to the Times by publishing the letters you would have sent had you thought they had the remotest chance of appearing in the Times’ pages.
Regard this as your invitation to the party. We cannot guarantee your letter will appear on our site either. We hope to receive too many to make that possible. But we will guarantee that letters critical of the Times and its columnists will appear every day as we receive them. Our voices (or pens) will be still no longer. The wonder of the web is that information is no longer a closed loop. Time to have a little fun with it.
Family Security Matters Contributing Editor John W. Howard is a lawyer (, specializing in corporate and business litigation who also founded a non-profit, public interest law firm specializing in First, Second and Tenth Amendment issues.

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