Friday, January 25, 2008

The New York Times Takes Sides (Again)

In the run up to the Iraq War, The New York Times, paragon of the “liberal” press, operated as an adjunct to the Bush/Cheney government’s propaganda machine – echoing its lies and, famously, through Judith Miller and others, helping to concoct them. This is what The Times has done since time immemorial. This is why The Times’ reputation for credibility, such as it is, rests mainly on a handful of exceptions. Those exceptions have occurred when divisions within ruling circles emerged. In such moments, what counts as “legitimate” discourse in our “democracy” can be less constricted than usual. With economic and ecological catastrophes on the horizon, one would think we would be in such a moment now; and, indeed, fissures in the homogeneity of ruling class thinking are developing. But The Times’ editors, if they are not oblivious, seem to have decided that the old, timeworn center can still hold. Thus, as per usual, they’re doing their bit for what they take to be a still solid regime. This morning’s evidence: their endorsement of Hillary Clinton. That The Times would favor a Clinton Restoration is not surprising. What is remarkable is how, in making a case for their position, they outdid themselves repeating every tidbit of conventional wisdom they could muster (“all the news [sic] that’s fit to print”). Read their editorial and marvel, but don’t be surprised. This is only the latest episode in a series extending back, it seems, into an infinitely remote past.

The Times also endorsed John McCain. There’s a lesson here too. As much as it could, given its niche in our political culture, the “anti-war” Times led the way beating the war drums in 2002 and 2003 and beyond, much like the “anti-war” Clintons did. In endorsing McCain, The Times picked the most bellicose (and unrepentant) Republican they could find, except maybe for Rudy G, with whom they have a long history of mutual contempt. Granted, The Times' editors had a miserable field from which to choose. But one would have thought that someone in power at the paper of record would have remembered from his or her college days that “none of the above” is often the right answer. Could anything be clearer in this case?

1 comment:

Cliff 2007 said...

I'm curious: you say,

"fissures in the homogeneity of ruling class thinking are developing"

To what 'fissures' do you refer? Who, exactly, is doing the 'developing?'

This would be good material for a subsequent post.