"Never Retire," Says Departing Columnist William Safire Monday marks the retirement of Times' columnist William Safire, who's offered on the paper's liberal op-ed page since 1973. The Times sends him off in a classy manner with a quartet of farewell opeds, ranging from "How to Read a Column" (one tip: Start halfway down) to how he got along with various first ladies of the United States. Safire will become chairman of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, which encourages brain science, and Safire's words today radiate optimism about both his future and ours', thanks to science: "Medical and genetic science... continue reading
For Al Qaeda, Must-Read NYT? Al Qaeda will probably find Tuesday's off-lead story by reporters Scott Shane, Stephen Grey and Margot Williams, "C.I.A. Expanding Terror Battle Under Guise of Charter Flights," of particular interest, as the Times blows the cover off a secret fleet of charter plane companies who own and fly planes linked to the C.I.A that take terrorist suspects to and from hot spots like Baghdad and Cairo. The Times writes: "The airplanes of Aero Contractors Ltd. take off from Johnston County Airport here, then disappear over the scrub pines and fields of tobacco and sweet potatoes. Nothing... continue reading
"Already Strained" by Iraq, National Guard Joins Post-Katrina Relief There's a bit of Iraq War commentary in the headline and lead of John Broder's story on the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, "Guard Units' New Mission: From Combat to Flood Duty." Broder reports: "State National Guard units, already strained by long overseas deployments, joined federal, state and private organizations yesterday in a broad effort to provide relief in areas thrashed and flooded by Hurricane Katrina." Later he again emphasizes the burden: "More than 5,000 National Guard troops were called up over the weekend to assist in relief operations, despite the burden... continue reading
Supreme Labeling Imbalance Sundays lead story involves the new Supreme Court vacancy left by the surprise retirement of Justice Sandra Day OConnor. Conservative Groups Rally Against Gonzales as Justice, by Adam Nagourney, Todd Purdum and David Kirkpatrick spins into a labeling frenzy, with 23 instances of the term conservative (not including two in headlines) in the 1,900-word story. One particularly pungent example: And Paul M. Weyrich, a veteran conservative organizer and chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, said he had told administration officials that nominating Mr. Gonzales, whose views on abortion are considered suspect by religious conservatives, would fracture the... continue reading
"Perception" Cheney "Is Running the Country" White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller's interview with long-time Bush pal (and wealthy Democrat) Roland Betts makes the front page Friday. Given that the White House declined to comment for the article, its news value is a little suspect, but Bumiller tries her best to wring some impressions of Bush from Betts: "Clearly, Mr. Betts is not the person to go to for an unvarnished view of the president, and he invariably describes a more thoughtful and curious chief executive than Mr. Bush's public image suggests." Bumiller returns to the Times' hobbyhorse of Dick Cheney... continue reading
A Tale of Two Wartime Inaugurals Over the weekend the Times forwarded complaints about the cost of Bush's upcoming inauguration. Sunday's front-page headline forreporter John Tierney's story reads: "For Inauguration in Wartime, A Lingering Question of Tone." And Saturday's Times features reporter Anne Kornblut talking to first lady Laura Bush. The headline tries to put the administration on the defensive for having the temerity to hold the "$40 million celebration as planned": "Laura Bush Defends Gala In Time of War and Disaster." Tierney's Sunday story at least gives both sides, letting former Bush speechwriter David Frum defend the White House:... continue reading
Relaying Reckless Leftist Charges Against Pro-U.S. Bloggers in Iraq Reporter Sarah Boxer has achieved instant notoriety in blogging circles for her irresponsibly speculative piece on a pro-U.S. blog run by Iraqi brothers. Boxer's Tuesday Arts section story, "Pro-American Iraqi Blog Provokes Intrigue and Vitriol," begins in a breathless style that probably helped the story garner the top slot of the Arts front page: "When I telephoned a man named Ali Fadhil in Baghdad last week, I wondered who might answer. A C.I.A. operative? An American posing as an Iraqi? Someone paid by the Defense Department to support the war? Or... continue reading
Howell Raines: Bush Shows How "To Vacation Through an Apocalypse" In a column for the Los Angeles Times, former Times Executive Editor (and eternal blowhard ) Howell Raines joins the left wing in using the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina to bash Bush. From the middle of the piece: "The dilatory performance of George Bush during the past week has been outrageous. Almost as unbelievable as Katrina itself is the fact that the leader of the free world has been outshone by the elected leaders of a region renowned for governmental ineptitude. "Louisiana's anguished governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, climbed into a... continue reading
Will NYT Editorial Page "Bork" John Roberts? Wednesday's lead editorial on Bush's Supreme Court nominee John Roberts delivers invective worthy of Sen. Kennedy on Robert Bork (or the editorial board's own Adam Cohen about anyone to the right of William Brennan ): "If he is a mainstream conservative in the tradition of Justice O'Connor, he should be confirmed. But if on closer inspection he turns out to be an extreme ideologue with an agenda of stripping away important rights, he should not be.The far right is on a drive to resurrect ancient, and discredited, states' rights theories. If extremists take... continue reading
The Publicity-Shunning Valerie Plame? Tuesdays front-page story from Scott Shane, In Leak Case, Half a Couple Maintains Veil, leaves off some interesting parts of the Valerie Plame (now Valerie Wilson)-Joseph Wilson controversy: For nearly two years, the investigation into the leak of a covert C.I.A. officer's name has unfolded clamorously in the nation's capital, with partisan brawling on talk shows, prosecutors interviewing President Bush and top White House officials, and the imminent prospect that reporters could go to jail for contempt of court. But the woman at the center of it all, Valerie E. Wilson, has kept her silence, showing... continue reading