FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Journalistic Schizophrenia

A few days ago I noted that The Times, news and editorial pages had performed reasonably well during the Alito nomination. The few days since then have been rather peculiar, however.

The Times editorial page has continued to oppose Alito in very strong editorials. Yesterday, the editorial page even seemed unmistakably to call for a filibuster, although the editorial also seemed bathed in a tone of hopelessness, because of what the newspaper sees as Democrats, spinelessness. (The editorial is even entitled Senators in Need of a Spine.) But, regardless of its “bath tone,” the editorial, i.e., the newspaper, plainly did call for a filibuster because Alito poses such a threat of helping to create a presidential dictatorship. (The phrase is mine, but the sentiment pervades The Times, editorial.)

But while The Times, editorials come out four square against Alito, the news pages don,t even cover what is going on. There is no story, absolutely no story, in today,s news pages about it. A few days ago there likewise was virtually nothing in the news pages on the matter. Meanwhile, The Times, (I think wholly owned) subsidiary, The Boston Globe, does carry stories on its news pages. And when The Times, news pages do carry a story on the nomination, the paper never seems to miss a chance to say that Alito,s confirmation is assured. (Indeed, while there is no news story in today,s Times about the Alito nomination, a very long story on Bush,s forthcoming State of the Union address contains a single sentence (on p. A18) that says the nomination was handled smoothly, and on the same page is a huge picture of Alito meeting with Republican Senators who, the caption says, “congratulated him on winning a recommendation of confirmation from the Senate Judiciary Committee.”) The Times, constant refrain that confirmation is certain can only, of course, increase the chance that Democrats and conceivably even some potential Republicans will not filibuster or abstain from voting against a filibuster. Why should they filibuster or abstain from voting against one when the newspaper of record repeatedly assures them — makes a point of repeatedly telling them — that such action would be hopeless because confirmation is assured. And nowhere on the news pages, of course, does one find significant information, or even any information, about the efforts of people who are trying to encourage a filibuster. (Obviously, the people who make news judgements for The Times think that a huge picture — what the accompanying caption conceded was “a photo opportunity” — of Alito meeting with congratulatory Republican Senators is more important than information about efforts of those who might be against the nomination.

No, all that news pages say is that Democrats will try to use the Alito nomination to win more seats in the 2006 election. Excuse my French, but what bullshit. What absolute bullshit. If Alito proves to be what The Times editorial page thinks he is (as do many of us) — if he proves to be a guy who will support the efforts of his nominating “president whose grandiose vision of his own powers threatens to undermine the nation,s basic philosophy of government” while the “Senate . . . seems eager to cooperate by rolling over and playing dead,” if he supports the views of a president of whom Bob Herbert today correctly said (while recounting some of his terrible actions) that “His breathtaking arrogance is exceeded only by his incompetence. And that,s the real problem. That,s where you,ll find the mind-boggling destructiveness of this regime, in its incompetence” — if Alito proves, as threatened, to support the actions of these dangerous and incompetent clowns in the Administration from Bush on down, then all the hoped for Democratic gains of 2006 — even if they were to occur despite the fact that many persons will refuse to give otherwise available support to the Democrats because of extreme distaste for the Democrats, obvious cowardice — all the hoped for Democrat gains of 2006 will not make one goddamned bit of difference. Legislators have never made a difference to executives who have successfully asserted dictatorial power. Not in Germany, not in Iraq, not in the Soviet Union, not anywhere. The Democrats are just peddling bullshit because they have no guts. And no principle. And don,t, underneath it all, really give enough of a damn about the country if faced with the possibility that there are voters who would dislike them for a stand on principle. For the Democrats, the gutlessness, lack of principle and caring not a damn about the country is Viet Nam redux during the time that Lyndon Johnson was president.

Meanwhile, The Times, like The Wall Street Journal, seems to have developed a case, albeit a lesser case, of journalistic schizophrenia as between its news pages and its editorial pages. Far worse than this schizophrenia, however, is that once again, this time by the silence and one-sidedness of its news pages, The Times will have helped to allow a disaster to occur. Its refusal to carry stories it knew of during World War II about the destruction of the Jews, its failure to write about the forthcoming Bay of Pigs invasion, which it knew about in advance, its failure to question the Bush claims about weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq war, the associated Judith Miller fiasco, its one year delay in reporting the current electronic eavesdropping story — a delay that one can think, given the currently unknown timing of the paper,s original knowledge, may have enabled George Bush to be reelected — and now the failure of its news pages to say virtually anything about Alito or to cover the efforts of those who still seek to fight his nomination via filibuster — all this shows that The Times continues to have much to answer for in the court of history. Its answerability, incidentally, does not exclude an explanation of the reasons why Bill Keller and Arthur Sulzberger, who is increasingly revealed as only a product of nepotism, continue to head the paper even though they have presided over so much screwing up. Again forgive the French, but if it were Howell Raines, you can bet that he would have been out on his ass a long time ago.

LAWRENCE R. VELVEL is the Dean of Massachusetts School of Law. He can be reached at velvel@mslaw.edu.

 

 

More articles by:

Lawrence Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, is the author of Thine Alabaster Cities Gleam and An Enemy of the People. He can be reached at: Velvel@VelvelOnNationalAffairs.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
April 09, 2020
John Davis
Freedom Virus
Vincent Emanuele
The New Normal: Cascading and Multilayered Crises
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie’s Last Tape
John O'Kane
Remove the Boomer Virus and What Virus Remains?
Kevin Bixby – Daryl T. Smith
The Border Wall Risks Us All
Nick Pemberton
Could COVID-19 Count Fox News Among Its Victims?
Howard Lisnoff
American Exceptionalism in the Face of Covid-19
Charles Pierson
We Are Living (And Dying) in Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death”
Sam Husseini
Sanders Suspends: What Happened? What Now?
Binoy Kampmark
Banal Terrors: Pandemics and the Ordinary Business of War
Ted Rall
Why We Need a New Progressive Party and How We Can Create It
Walden Bello
Martin Khor: the Making of a Global Activist
Ariel Dorfman
COVID-19 and the Lessons of Life in Exile
Merriam Ansara
John Lennon in Quarantine: a Letter From Havana
George Wuerthner
Politics and Corruption at Grand Canyon
Eugene Schulman
Lost in the Pandemic: the Forever Wars
Dean Baker
Basic Economics for Economic Columnists: a Depression is a Process, Not an Event
George Ochenski
The Dishonest Mr. Daines
Mike Ferner
Love in a Dangerous Time
Brian Horejsi
Beware Government Secrecy in Times of Pandemic
Sam Pizzigati
No Fennel in the Sausage, No $600 for the Jobless
Jason Christensen – John Carter
Conservation Groups Oppose the Nature Conservancy’s Cattle Grazing Development Project on the Border of Canyonlands National Park
April 08, 2020
Melvin Goodman
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Body Politic
Eve Ottenberg
Amid Plague, Sanctions are Genocide
Vijay Prashad, Du Xiaojun – Weiyan Zhu
How China Learned About SARS-CoV-2 in the Weeks Before the Global Pandemic
Bill Quigley
Seven Disturbing Facts About COVID-19 in Louisiana
Joyce Nelson
BlackRock Takes Command
Geoff Dutton
Coronavirus as Metaphor: It’s Not Peanuts
Richard Moser
From Strike Wave to General Strike
Gary Leupp
Could COVID-19 Kill Capitalism?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Corona, Capital and Class in Germany
Tom Crofton
Aspirational vs Pragmatic: Why My Radicalness is Getting More Radical
Steve Kelly
Montana Ballot Access Decision Suppresses Green Party Voters
Jacob Hornberger
Muhammad Ali’s Fight Against the Pentagon
Phil Mattera
The Rap Sheets of the Big Ventilator Producers
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Remdesivir and Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19?
Rick Baum
When “Moderate” Democrats Lead the Ticket and Win, Down-Ballot Candidates Soon Suffer Losses
Jake Johnston
Tens of Millions Will Be Pushed into Poverty Amid COVID-Induced Recession
Kim C. Domenico
Healthy and Unhealthy Fear in the Age of Coronavirus
John W. Whitehead
Draconian Lockdown Powers and Civil Liberties
Binoy Kampmark
University Bailouts, Funding and Coronavirus
Luke Ruediger
BLM Timber Sale Increases Fire Risk, Reduces Climate Resilience and Harms Recreation
John Kendall Hawkins
Slavoj Žižek’s Virulent Polemic Against Covid-19, and Stuff!
Nyla Ali Khan
Finding Meaning and Purpose in Adversity
April 07, 2020
Joel McCleary – Mark Medish
Paradigm Shift by Pandemic
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail