Commentary Magazine


A Story of Our Times

I, like other members of the media, was cordoned off in a designated area at the McCain-Palin event. Cameras were on risers, print/online down below. I happened to be standing next to a well-known New York Times reporter. She was interviewing “real” people leaning on the barricade separating us from the crowd. When she told two middle-aged ladies that she was from the Times they recoiled. She breathlessly assured them that “editorial has nothing to do with the news.” They stared blankly. She grabbed a copy of the Grey Lady from her bag, as if to point out that there were different pages for opinion and news. They looked skeptical. She pressed on, “Do you read the New York Times?”

One of the ladies meekly replied, “I read about the New York Times.” I began to chuckle softly. She turned, “Who do you write for? Why are you laughing?” I began to respond that her line was likely not effective with this crowd, but she interrupted, “I do this all the time.” She then turned to her interviewee (who was now on the receiving end of a painful sales pitch) and continued, “You have to read the New York Times. Don’t just listen to what Bill O’Reilly says.”

You likely didn’t need any confirmation that the Times’ reporters believe only dolts think their news coverage is biased. Had she asked me why these folks are hostile to her publication I could have reeled off a list of obvious examples — ignoring the success of the surge, the front page faux scandal about McCain and the lobbyist, the Times‘s own public editor pointing out the paper’s delinquency in reporting on Reverend Wright, and, of course, the Palin feeding frenzy (including the error in reporting her affiliation with the Independence Party). There is more than a flimsy metal barricade separating the MSM from the public. The former need to get out more–literally and figuratively.

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