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Sunday, September 23, 2007

The New York Times Caught With Its Partisan Panties Down...Again...Surprise...

Clark Hoyt, the New York Times Public Editor has a column in today's paper titled Betraying Its Own Best Interests. In it he takes the Old Faded Lady to task for violating her own policies and procedures in both the price charged and the content of the Moveon.org ad that attacked the honor and integrity of General David H. Petraeus:
FOR nearly two weeks, The New York Times has been defending a political advertisement that critics say was an unfair shot at the American commander in Iraq.

But I think the ad violated The Times’ own written standards, and the paper now says that the advertiser got a price break it was not entitled to. [ed. note: emphasis mine.]

On Monday, Sept. 10, the day that Gen. David H. Petraeus came before Congress to warn against a rapid withdrawal of troops, The Times carried a full-page ad attacking his truthfulness. [...]

Did MoveOn.org get favored treatment from The Times? And was the ad outside the bounds of acceptable political discourse?

The answer to the first question is that MoveOn.org paid what is known in the newspaper industry as a standby rate of $64,575 that it should not have received under Times policies. The group should have paid $142,083. The Times had maintained for a week that the standby rate was appropriate, but a company spokeswoman told me late Thursday afternoon that an advertising sales representative made a mistake. [ed. note: emphasis mine.]

The answer to the second question is that the ad appears to fly in the face of an internal advertising acceptability manual that says, “We do not accept opinion advertisements that are attacks of a personal nature.” Steph Jespersen, the executive who approved the ad, said that, while it was “rough,” he regarded it as a comment on a public official’s management of his office and therefore acceptable speech for The Times to print.
You can read the rest for yourself. It's full of quotes from staffers and big-wigs like "we made a mistake" and "it's contrary to our policies"; big surprise right? Is the New York Times not tired of getting caught being blatantly partisan, blatantly wrong, and blatantly anti-American? I mean WTF? Does Ahmadinejad have compromising photos of Pinch Sulzberger and Maureen Dowd? Jeebus, come on folks!

Speaking of Pinch, what did he have to say about the brouhaha? Get this: Sulzberger, who said he wasn’t aware of MoveOn.org’s latest ad until it appeared in the paper, said: “If we’re going to err, it’s better to err on the side of more political dialogue. ... Perhaps we did err in this case. If we did, we erred with the intent of giving greater voice to people.”

Perhaps you erred?! Greater voice?! Oh good grief. In the words of my generation, "gag me with a spoon."

Hoyt closed by saying:
For me, two values collided here: the right of free speech — even if it’s abusive speech — and a strong personal revulsion toward the name-calling and personal attacks that now pass for political dialogue, obscuring rather than illuminating important policy issues. For The Times, there is another value: the protection of its brand as a newspaper that sets a high standard for civility. Were I in Jespersen’s shoes, I’d have demanded changes to eliminate “Betray Us,” a particularly low blow when aimed at a soldier.
Perhaps Mr. Hoyt deserves a promotion, but I wonder how long his job will last now?

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