Okrent's Last Stand
Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent penned his last column Sunday, a catchall titled "13 Things I meant to Write About but Never Did."
Puzzlingly, Okrent criticizes the paper's "ideologically fueled detractors on the right" for quoting him accurately when he called the Times a liberalnewspaper: "Last July, when I slapped the headline "Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?" atop my column and opened the piece with the catchy one-liner 'Of course it is,' I wasn't doing anyone - the paper, its serious critics, myself - any favors. I'd reduced a complex issue to a sound bite. The column itself, I'll stand by; I still believe the paper is the inevitable product of its staff's experience and worldview, and that its news coverage reflects a generalized acceptance of liberal positions on most social issues. For The Times's ideologically fueled detractors on the right, though, there was no reason to invoke this somewhat more complex analysis when they could paint my more incendiary words on a billboard: 'According to The Times's own Daniel Okrent. ...' I may wish they'd live by one of the same standards they ask The Times to adhere to - the fair representation of controversial opinions. But I handed them a machine gun when a pistol would have sufficed."
For the full Okrent, click here:
Bumiller Followed the Trail of Liberal Blogs
Reporter Tom Zeller on a report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and market research firm BuzzMetrics and claims: "To analyze Web log buzz, the study zeroed in on a few dozen political blogs, from left-leaning forums like Daily Kos and AmericaBlog to conservative ones like Instapundit and Power Line, as well as middle-of-the road sites like BuzzMachine and Wonkette."
(Labeling quibbles: JeffJarvis of Buzzmachinedid support the war but also voted for Kerry and lambastes Republican social conservatism. The Wonkette blog by Ana Marie Cox is perhaps more libertine than liberal - but Cox has written for liberal mags Mother Jones and the American Prospect.) Zeller goes on to claim: "Still, on issues like Iraq, weapons of mass destruction or the military draft, the Pew study found the chatter profile to be mixed, with buzz originating from several information channels. In instances in which blogs took the lead, such as the mysterious bulge that appeared on President Bush's back during the first debate (a radio receiver, some liberal blogs posited), they were often unable to get other channels to follow."
But those liberal bloggers got White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller to follow, judging by the severalstories Bumiller got out of the left-wing rumors.
For the rest of Zeller on blog influence, click here:
Guantanamo Represents "America's Dangerous Drift" from Ideals
The headline to Saturday's Page One off-lead story by Somini Sengupta and Salman Masood is stark: "Guantanamo Comes to Define U.S. to Muslims - A Champion of Rights Is Accused of Torture." The text caption on the jump page is even blunter: "Many think America sacrificed credibility in the name of fighting terrorism."
The Times strings together generalities and anecdotes to paint a grim picture of America's falling reputation overseas: "In Europe, accusations of abuse at Guantnamo, as much as the war in Iraq, have become a symbol of what many see as America's dangerous drift away from the ideals that made it a moral beacon in the post-World War II era. There is a persistent and uneasy sense that the United States fundamentally changed after September 11, and not for the better.Guantnamo offers disconcerting testimony that for many Muslims, the America they used to admire has sunk to the level of their own repressive governments."
Then come the sometimes strange anecdotes: "In Britain, Guantnamo has entered the political lexicon along with Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad as an emblem of American injustice and abuse. During the London marathon in April this year, David Nicholl, a neurologist, ran the race in an orange jumpsuit to protest the detention of five former British residents at Guantnamo.On Friday afternoon in an Islamabad bookshop, Maheen Asif, 33, leafed through a women's magazine, and paused for only a moment when asked for her impression of Guantnamo Bay. 'Torture,' she said, as her daughters, 8 and 5, scampered through the stalls. 'The first word that comes to my mind is 'torture' - a place where Americans lock up and torture Muslims in the name of terrorism.'"
For more of Sengupta and Masood, click here:
Laura Bush, Dissenter
Is first lady Laura Bush not on the same page as the White House? That's what White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller tries to imply in a Saturday story, "First Lady Questions Delay In Telling President of Plane," about the Secret Service's delay in telling President Bush, who was out on a bike trip, that a small plane had violated White House airspace and caused an evacuation of the White House.
Bumiller takes care to note: "Mrs. Bush's comments on the incident last week deviated from those of Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, who suggested last week that there had been no need to inform the president. 'He was never in any danger,' Mr. McClellan said, 'and the protocols that were in place were followed.' The first lady also deviated from Mr. McClellan's comments this week about Newsweek magazine, which retracted its earlier report that interrogators at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, had tried to flush a Koran down a toilet. The article has been blamed for anti-American rioting in the Muslim world and at least 16 deaths. 'You know, you can't blame it all on Newsweek,' Mrs. Bush said, adding that while the Newsweek mistake was 'irresponsible,' the rioters deserved some blame, too Mr. McClellan's comments were more critical about what he called the 'lasting damage' caused by Newsweek."
For the full Bumiller on Laura Bush, click here: