|March 8, 2005||EDITORIAL ARCHIVES|
BuzzFlash Vs. The New York Times
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
In a David vs. Goliath battle, we think BuzzFlash is holding its own. For one thing, the New York Times is starting to get a little defensive at our criticisms of their roll over and play dead coverage of the White House.
Maybe it was when we honored (or dishonored) NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller as our BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the week that they got a little edgy.
Or maybe it was when we called for an investigative reporter, along the lines of a special counsel for journalism, to investigate the New York Times News Section for journalistic malfeasance in covering the White House.
Or maybe it was the numerous other times that we have pointed out how the New York Times whines about being a liberal media whipping boy for the right wing, while ensuring that the White House is never REALLY offended.
As we noted in the recent BuzzFlash commentary that appears to have gotten the goat of a few NYT editors:
In an e-mail to our alert list, we said that the New York Times hasn't run a story on the Gannon/Guckert affair yet. We meant to say that they haven't run a serious story on it, or done anything other than be a vehicle for White House spin to bury the story as quickly as possible.
So some of our readers wrote to the so-called "Public Editor" of the NYT (who Bill Keller recently told to mind his own business when he inquired about the mysterious Bush mole Judith Miller). Here is an example of one response from the NYT "Public Editor's" office:
Well, with the exception of the wonderful Rich and Dowd columns that BuzzFlash featured (and remember they are columnists, not news reporters -- a distinction we repeatedly draw), three of the other four articles are basically written in a way to protect the White House Press Secretary's Office, despite contradictory evidence, and the fourth, on a call for an investigation by some Democrats, was buried on the 20th page.
Guckert, according to one of the NYT articles, was a "volunteer" White House reporter. This is the first time, to our knowledge that a professional prostitute served as a volunteer reporter with professional White House journalistic prostitutes, uh, we mean reporters. But that didn't strike the New York Times as odd. Uh, how many "volunteer" White House Reporters are there anyway? Are the New York Times Washington reporters "volunteers"?
And wouldn't the New York Times ask Bobby Eberle, a well-connected Texas Republican who founded the so-called "Talon News Service," why he thanks Karl Rove and other White House and Republican luminaries for their guidance and mentoring in a public 2004 Christmas card that was freely available to read on his website at the time the NYT wrote the article about him disclaiming any contact with the Republican propagandists? Eberle writes, "I'd also like to send a special thank you to all those who personally provided me with their assistance, guidance, and friendship, including...Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, and G. Gordon Liddy."
In short, the NYT let Eberle get away with whatever he wanted to say, without investigating the truth. This was a way to move the story from the White House Press Office, headed by Rove and McClellan to an obscure Texas website. The question is not the website, the question is how a volunteer reporter, whose apparent source of income was prostitution -- and before that fixing cars -- got into the White House on a regular basis. Perhaps the Times would have us believe that it was divine intervention, since they failed to elicit the facts from the White House, or even vigorously try, it appears.
That brings us to the February piece in which the Times allows Ari Fleischer to set the tone by stating that he had been a tad suspicious of Gannon when he was press secretary. How many years ago was that, and the Times doesn't ask how Gannon managed to stick around all this time if Ari had been suspicious? Now, here's a guy operating under two names, with the knowledge of the White House, and getting into the press room for which he "volunteers," while he's a prostitute at night, before the "volunteer" wire service he is writing for is "even up and running." But the New York Times doesn't smell anything fishy, even when Eberle refuses to name his current "employer."
Now you would think a seasoned reporter might do a bit more that take Ari Fleischer's word for it. The publication, "Editor and Publisher," had Scott McClellan giving so many different explanations that Scott just stopped talking with them. But the New York Times finds no need to probe beyond asking McClellan a couple pro forma questions and taking his word for it, which didn't make any sense whatsoever in this particular case. Furthermore, no one has affirmed that getting a White House Day Pass on such a regular basis, where it functions de facto as a hard pass, is an easy feat by any means. In fact, it is mind boggling when you consider the security risks that might be posed by a prostitute "volunteer reporter," with no previous journalism experience," not using his real name, before his online "news service" even started!
I mean, come on. Doesn't anyone claim to have any common sense over at the New York Times? Apparently not when the bean counters are looking over your shoulder at the profit margins.
And the headline on Fleischer's article is even more telling of the NYT adopting the White House Spin, "Doubts About White House Reporter Recalled." Excuse us, how about a headline, "With Past History of Tight-Fisted Media Control, Doubts Raised About How Gannon Got Continued White House Access Without Knowledge of Higher Ups." That's the non-Bush spin headline, but the NYT always goes with the Bush spin. The New York Times didn't write an investigative piece about the Gannon/Guckert affair; it wrote up the White House message points that would lead to burying the affair.
Charles Madigan, a long time writer and editor at the Chicago Tribune, recalled how he attended a Michigan rally for Bush last year and was, as a reporter, denied the right to sit or talk to any attendee without a White House-designated handler present. So Madigan believes that the White House knew about the male hooker seated in the White House press room, the ringer whom they credentialed.
Why, Madigan asks himself? "Because I have dealt with these people. They are the most diligent people on earth when it comes to finding out where genuine reporters are and what they are doing."
And the NYT should know this, because it covers the White House every day, or transcribes for it, anyway.
What's a prostitute among high paid stenographers who know their job is not to rock the boat, like figuring out what a Republican prostitute is doing asking questions of the President of the United States?
Finally, on page 20 of the NYT -- according to the assistant to the NYT "Public Editor" -- the NYT noted that Democrats were calling for an investigation. Not that the Times might investigate a story about the media being manipulated. Heavens to Betsy! Nor would they put the Democratic call on the front page as they have numerous investigations by Republicans, including the sham impeachment efforts against Clinton that they breathlessly headlined for almost six years!
In another commentary, BuzzFlash has observed:
There were so many salient and obvious contradictions and lies pedaled by the White House that the New York Times had to trip over them and pretend that they didn't exist in regards to the Gannon/Guckert affair. The New York Times News Section motto on covering the White House appears to be: "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Report No Evil, otherwise we get fired."
Somehow, the New York Times, would have you believe that the planting of a man who makes his living as a prostitute and "volunteers" as a White House reporter, known to TWO White House Press Secretaries, is just one of those little mysteries in life.
It's not. It's just that the Times pretends it's a mystery, because they don't want to upset the White House, because upsetting the White House would upset the bottom line.
There was a period when the New York Times used to investigate stories instead of taking stenography and cribbing from blogs.
But that time ended a long time ago.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
BuzzFlash Note: It should be noted for the umpteenth time that BuzzFlash has drawn a distinction between the "traditionally liberal" editorial page of the NYT (even though it supported the Iraq War), its columnists (such as Rich, Dowd, Krugman, and Herbert) and the News Section. It is the News Section that matters to the opinion makers because it is supposed to be exercising news judgment and following up vigorously on stories that other news outlets don't have the resources to pursue.
Instead, its main goal is not to get the White House upset. It's doing a very good job at achieving its main goal. The White House knows that the News Section of the New York Times wouldn't lay a serious glove on it -- and instead runs breathless "exclusives" of so-called "secret tapes," which end up only serving the purposes of the White House. The Times was a willing vehicle for "the Bush tapes," which were really propaganda in disguise. The so-called owner of the tapes turned them all over to Bush's lawyer, after the NYT article accomplished the White House's PR objectives, because the recorder/friend of Bush felt "guilty."
Hey, can someone write an investigative story about that little curious gambit? The New York Times surely won't.