“In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion. If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth.”
— Jill Abramson, new executive editor of the New York Times
Of course, that quote was too provocative to remain in the New York Times’ story about Abramson’s appointment. So like a good disposer of inconvenient facts, the paper flushed the quote down the memory hole.
With the click of a mouse, the Grey Lady eliminated an embarrassing revelation about the practitioners of The Church of Faith-Based Journalism.
Except, of course, that sort of memory-holing is not possible on the Internet, the Internet that Abramson’s Luddite predecessor, Bill Keller, stupidly kept picking fights with.
As Michael Medved wrote of the Times’ post-self-censorship: “When a journalist makes a concerted attempt to edit provocative comments out of the public record, it’s usually an indication that the remarks in question count as uncomfortably revealing.”
A lot of journalists take this view of a self-aggrandizing mission to change the world, based on the conceit that they are uniquely qualified to shine the light of True Knowledge upon an ignorant populace. But few would be so crass or careless to spell it out like that in public.
Medved goes on to say that the: “creedal references suffusing Abramson’s exultations suggested a sense of purpose—of ‘her deep belief in the mission’ —that fits uncomfortably with the preening pose of scrupulous objectivity that the Gray Lady strikes for a wondering world . . . Abramson’s suggestion of journalists ‘held together’ by some shared faith echoes the charges of a shared ideology—confirming the core conservative critique of the organizations so lovingly described by Sarah Palin as the ‘lamestream media.’ “
Sadly, how true that is. And such a faith-based approach to journalism explains how its believers are so hostile to any critiques of their bias: that’s heresy! And religions are not known for their tolerance of heresy or heretics. (Just try to correct media-spread falsehoods about Sarah Palin and you’ll see what I mean).
The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto describes how this self-righteous belief in their own infallibility leads the New York Times writers to recite bald-faced falsehoods as if they were divine truths. For example:
“In January, the Times responded to the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by instigating a witch hunt against ‘Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media,’ as an editorial put it–even though by the time the editorial was published, it was clear that suspect Jared Loughner was not motivated by politics.”
Maybe Pope Jill will renounce the NYT’s dogmatic certitude and lead a journalistic Reformation. But I doubt it.
(DISCLAIMER: This is my opinion, and not necessarily that of the North County Times, my employer.)