Bill Keller Preens Over His Paper's "High-Minded" Journalism

August 30, 2005

Bill Keller Preens Over His Paper's "High-Minded" Journalism

"First, and weirdly, [law professor Richard Posner] makes almost no distinctions within the vast category of American media, between those that are aggressively partisan and those that strive to keep opinion sequestered from news, between outlets that invest in serious reporting and those that simply riff on the reporting of others, between the sensational and the more high-minded, between organizations that hasten to correct errors and those that could not care less, between the cartoonish shout shows on cable TV and the more ambitious journalism of, say, the paper you are holding in your hands. " - Executive Editor Bill Keller, in an August 21 letter to the Sunday Book Review, criticizing a recent Posner story arguing liberal bias in the media.

Impugning the Kindly Reputation of WWII Japanese Soldiers

"With its radically desaturated color, which drapes everything in hues of mud and dust, 'The Great Raid' flaunts a visual stylization of the gritty look of 1940's black-and-white war films. Its scenes of torture and murder also unapologetically revive the uncomfortable stereotype of the Japanese soldier as a sadistic, slant-eyed fiend." - Movie critic Stephen Holden, August 12.

Media Reporter Assails "Unnoticed" Casualties of War

"You could understand why [Steven] Bochco feels a bit fragged. He set out to render visible a war, one that has produced thousands of dead and wounded, that goes conveniently unnoticed by most Americans. He has never been to Iraq, but hired several consultants who had served, in order to get an authentic look and feel for his series. To the civilian eye, his portrait of men and women fighting for their lives and their country, usually in that order, is a reminder that the rhetoric of politicians exacts a savage consequence from those who must live the reality of warfare." - David Carr on "Over There" TV producer Steven Bochco's new show about the Iraq war, August 24.

"Record-Setting" Misinformation on Oil Prices

"If energy producers are not raking in enough cash from record-setting crude oil prices, they can always look forward to the tax breaks packed into a bill that President Bush signed into law earlier this month to promote new production." - Conrad de Aenlle, August 21.

Reality Check: The cost of a barrel of oil was about $65 at the time. The cost would have to top $90, and the price of gas exceed $3 a gallon, to reach the actual prices of 1980, when adjusted for inflation.

Both Sides Do It?

"After nearly five years of Israeli-Palestinian bloodletting, Mr. Sharon's initiative signifies the most important political development of recent years and is sure to shape future relations between the sides." - Greg Myre, August 15.

Those Lying Israelis

"In 2002, the Israeli government began constructing what it calls a security fence." - Movie critic Manohla Dargis opening her review of the pro-Palestinian documentary "Wall," August 26.

Still More "Unsubstantiated" Swifties

"Why have things become so heated so early? One factor is the money. Mr. Corzine and Mr. Forrester are both wealthy enough to finance their own campaigns, so while other candidates might be forced to spend the summer on the telephone, dialing for dollars, New Jersey's gilded gubernatorial wannabes are free to lob insults and unfounded accusations. Both campaigns also appear to have learned from last year's presidential race, when the Democrat, John Kerry, went dark during the month of August only to find himself buried beneath so many unsubstantiated smears about his military record that he never recovered." - Trenton Bureau Chief David Kocieniewski on the New Jersey Senate race, August 21.

Selective Memory of the Thomas Hearings

"It was the sight of Anita F. Hill being brusquely questioned by an all-male Senate Judiciary Committee about her sexual harassment charges against Clarence Thomas, then a United States Supreme Court nominee, that helped propel Dianne Feinstein into the Senate in 1992." - The opening line of Dean Murphy's profile of "moderate," "centrist" California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, August 26.

John Roberts Protected Reagan from his "Zealous Instincts"

"Newly released documents from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library reflect [Supreme Court nominee John] Roberts's repeated efforts to protect Mr. Reagan and his aides and supporters from some of their own most zealous instincts. He warned against excessive public presidential support for the Nicaraguan contra rebels." - Todd Purdum and John Broder, August 19.

Open-Minded Conservatives? What a Shocker

"'This Divided State' may ring with death threats and heave with animosity, but its final message is a hopeful one: in one of the most conservative states in the country, there are at least as many open minds as closed ones." - From Jeannette Catsoulis' August 19 review of a documentary about left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore's visit to Utah Valley State College.

GOP Doomed, Again

"A stream of bad news out of Iraq, echoed at home by polls that show growing impatience with the war and rising disapproval of President Bush's Iraq policies, is stirring political concern in Republican circles, party officials said Wednesday. Some said that the perception that the war was faltering was providing a rallying point for dispirited Democrats and could pose problems for Republicans in the Congressional elections next year." - Adam Nagourney and David Kirkpatrick, August 18.

Anti-Israeli Terrorists - They're So Dreamy

"Militants have done so much of the dreaming for Gaza's Palestinians for so long that others seem almost to have lost the habit. Now, on the eve of the scheduled departure of Gaza's other highly ambitious residents - the Israelis settlers who hoped to hold the land forever - Gazans are tentatively contemplating an unfamiliar possibility, new freedom. Most have what might seem modest notions of what do with it." - Opening to a story from James Bennet on the eviction of Jews from the Gaza Strip, August 15.

Is He Saying What He Sounds Like He's Saying?

"No Union Jacks here, but plenty of murals as well - some praising the work of other 'liberators' - the P.L.O., E.T.A., the insurgents in Iraq trying to keep George Bush from taking their oil - as well as those honoring their own dead, most notably Bobby Sands, who died during a prison hunger strike in 1981." - Times Travel Editor Stuart Emmrich in Catholic Belfast, August 21.