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What's the Big Deal?

I have a fairly unconventional view of the New York Times for a progressive, and it might be at least partly because I stopped being a fan of the Clintons somewhere around 1995 and became ideologically and by disposition inclined to oppose their presence in the Democratic Party. I did make my peace with Hillary Clinton's inevitable nomination in 2016 and I didn't spend one second wasting my time bitching about it because I saw it as a misuse of energy. I try not to complain or worry too much about things I cannot change. Still, I didn't like the situation. I hated it, actually. And so I just didn't have my antenna up for how the Times covered her because I wouldn't cover her very generously myself.

If I'd ever been some find of Clinton family fanboy, I'd probably have scars to show it from the way the New York Times has mistreated and abused them over the years.

In general, I thought the Times had excellent election coverage. The best I can remember. I can't understand people who say that they weren't rough enough on Trump. I've never seen any candidate get exposed and eviscerated the way Trump was by the press, both the reporting end and the editorial end, and the Times was a leader in that.

What's changed in my perceptions is the Washington Post. By the end of the Bush presidency, I wouldn't have wiped my ass with that paper and its editorial staff was so bad someone had to be deliberately trying to make it awful.

While it did some great work during the Bush presidency (Dana Priest, Dan Balz), I think it vastly improved over the late Obama presidency, including the presidential campaign. In short, the Post is much better of late, while the Times is only modestly above what they've been historically. When I compare either paper today to what they were before the progressive blogosphere arose to challenge them, it's clear that they are light years better today than in the run-up to the Iraq War.

While we can always look at the worst of access journalism (Judith Miller with Scooter Libby, Maggie Haberman with Donald Trump), the papers need people to have that kind of access. It's what they do with it that matters. We're never going to get hard-hitting stuff from reporters on that kind of beat because that's the nature of the thing, but they don't have to assure us that Saddam Hussein has nuclear weapons based on a source they know well enough to understand is a giant fucking liar. That's what Judith Miller and Michael Gordon did and that's why they belong in the journalistic Hall of Shame.

All I know is that when I began blogging it would have been impossible to get me to say positive things about either of these papers, and the Post got worse and worse and worse as the years went on. Their recent reversion to a decent, even admirable, newspaper is welcome. Just don't ask them to take our side on antitrust issues. Their owner didn't buy the paper for it to question platform monopolies.

Maybe a lot of liberals are exasperated with the New York Times these days, but I don't really see how they're not far better than they were in first years of the century, and the stuff they still do that's annoying is stuff they've been doing forever. David Brooks is an insufferable fool with the intellectual integrity of a rabid jackal. But would you prefer some other conservative columnist like, I don't know, I remember the Times hiring William Kristol for a bit until they realized they'd have to issue corrections after every column?

Media criticism is fun and it's always needed. But you shouldn't start cancelling your subscriptions over dumb shit that Douthat and Brooks write.

In any case, everything you know about Trump was probably reported by these two big newspapers at some point. The idea that they've gone lightly on him in ludicrous, especially when you compare how Bush/Cheney were treated.

But, yeah, if you're big into the Clintons, you're never going to really forgive the Times, nor should you.


This post first appeared on Booman Tribune ~ A Progressive Community, please read the originial post: here

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What's the Big Deal?


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