Join 3,415 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


turgid, stuffy little packages of institutional sanctimony
February 7, 2014 3:09 PM   Subscribe

It's well known among the small world of people who pay attention to such things that the liberal-leaning reporters at The Wall Street Journal resent the conservative-leaning editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. What’s less well known—and about to break into the open, threatening the very fabric of the institution—is how deeply the liberal-leaning reporters at The New York Times resent the liberal-leaning editorial page of The New York Times.
The New York Observer reports that the journalistic staff of The New York Times is in "semi-open revolt" against the opinion pages. Chris Bray asks: "When was the last time you were surprised by something in the opinion pages of the New York Times, leaving aside the moments you were surprised by how awful something was?"
posted by RogerB (76 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
The only pieces I ever read in the opinion section are very occasionally a piece be an outside writer I find particularly interesting, or when something is linked in an FPP here. Otherwise never, for exactly the reason of boring given.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:11 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Oh Dear, Mr Freidman
posted by Thoth at 3:16 PM on February 7 [13 favorites]


I know I shouldn't do a FTFY, but...
... the liberal-leaning trying desperately to take away some of the Wall Street Journal's audience and advertisers editorial page of The New York Times.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:18 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


I don't subscribe to the NYT so my interest in this is purely schaudenfreude, but THIS:
There is suddenly evidence that the festering dissatisfaction with the edit page has broken into what one reporter dubbed “semi-open revolt.” One reporter says that he literally will not allow Mr. Rosenthal to join their lunch table in the cafeteria.
Let's recast Mean Girls with staffers from the NYT! Mr. Rosenthal is Regina George, of course.
posted by muddgirl at 3:22 PM on February 7 [8 favorites]


I'm convinced Mr. Friedman's entire carrer is due to a poorly worded genie wish.
posted by The Whelk at 3:23 PM on February 7 [94 favorites]


Let's recast Mean Girls with staffers from the NYT!

"you're from Queens? Then why aren't you poor?"

"OMG you can't just ask someone why they're not poor!"
posted by The Whelk at 3:25 PM on February 7 [9 favorites]


Brooks, Friedman, Dowd, Kristof, Douthat, and Nocera all need to be fired. It's remarkable any have jobs as writers.
posted by MetalFingerz at 3:29 PM on February 7 [27 favorites]


"I did not leave USA Today for this."
posted by muddgirl at 3:32 PM on February 7 [10 favorites]


At least Dowd is occasionally funny. Brooks, Douthat, and Friedman are just worthless all together.
posted by tavella at 3:35 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


I'm convinced Mr. Friedman's entire carrer is due to a poorly worded genie wish.

Oh, you wanted fried mango on top!?!
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:36 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


It's amazing people still believe the NYT is liberal in the first place; it's always been the Pravda on the Hudson, mouthpiece for the establishment.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:37 PM on February 7 [29 favorites]


I've been staring at the pullquote for a while now and I'm still trying to figure out how the editorial department of The New York Times earned the adjective liberal.

Thomas Friedman's moronic yet inexplicably remunerative attempts to be the Howard Rheingold to the plutocratic set? David Brooks' self-portrayal of a blue blazer clad everyman striding across the landscape in search of the national moral center and provide resolution for his endless social climb into the corridors of the contentedly smug?
posted by at by at 3:37 PM on February 7 [27 favorites]


In 2014, liberal apparently means "not actively antagonistic against poor people and minorities at all times."
posted by MetalFingerz at 3:39 PM on February 7 [105 favorites]


You think Brooks ever has like, moments of doubt or clarity?


I don't either.
posted by The Whelk at 3:41 PM on February 7 [11 favorites]


right: to the NYT poor people and minorities are curiosities.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:42 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


Krugman is good.
posted by mono blanco at 3:43 PM on February 7 [45 favorites]


Nothing bums me out more than hearing smart people I like and respect talk about how they admire Friedman and Brooks. I've stopped fighting it and just mumble at my shoes.
posted by COBRA! at 3:44 PM on February 7 [18 favorites]


It's a testament to the universal level of hate for Friedman that Brooks doesn't seem to even come up in the article.
posted by selfnoise at 3:45 PM on February 7 [9 favorites]


David Brooks is awesome just speaking aesthetically. He is the purest expression of the Platonic form of David Brooks I have ever seen. Like, he could have not smoked weed before giving his English class presentation like most people do, but already he was thinking of his future career & making sacrifices.

It's amazing people still believe the NYT is liberal in the first place; it's always been the Pravda on the Hudson, mouthpiece for the establishment.


Makes it one of the more useful papers remaining; consensus establishment bullshit being superior to tribal bullshit.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 3:51 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]


I've been staring at the pullquote for a while now and I'm still trying to figure out how the editorial department of The New York Times earned the adjective liberal.

It's not just the weirdness of the A-B gamut of the contemporary American political spectrum, though. I'm coming to think that the particular kind of clickbait/outragebait game that the Times opinion pages play these days actually depends on this wrong-on-purpose dynamic; that they provide this and other kinds of false labeling and reasoning deliberately, for readers' enjoyment and incitement. It's like a high-toned, self-serious version of those Highlights for Children "spot the difference" picture puzzles, in which the game is that readers can have a fun time scrutinizing the pieces with furrowed brow, rooting out their false premises, their nonsensical claims, and their non sequiturs and failures of reasoning.
posted by RogerB at 3:56 PM on February 7 [8 favorites]


The start of the Observer article is about the unsigned editorials, which have ALWAYS been a mystery to me. I don't think I have ever in my life read the 'official' editorial opinion of a newspaper's ownership/management, and I was shocked to learn that it takes a staff of more than a dozen people to churn them out. Most of the in-house op-ed columnists are risible for other reasons, but the official editorials are completely irrelevant.
posted by twsf at 4:02 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


FYI The New York Observer.
posted by semmi at 4:11 PM on February 7


My actual response:

They actually leave their desks to eat together at tables in the cafeteria?

Huh.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 4:13 PM on February 7 [14 favorites]


It's amazing people still believe the NYT is liberal in the first place; it's always been the Pravda on the Hudson, mouthpiece for the establishment.

Indeed - that's why it published the Pentagon Papers and has been reporting on the NSA revelations.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:26 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


Oh Dear, Mr Freidman

That piece never gets old. I think I return to it once a year or so.
posted by brundlefly at 4:31 PM on February 7


Friedman is on an impossible-to-parody autopilot program. An interview from last week:

TOM FRIEDMAN: We have experienced a huge "Gutenberg-scale" inflection point in the last ten years. The world has gone from connected to hyper-connected and from inter-connected to interdependent. This has been such a shift in degree that it has become a shift in kind.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 4:31 PM on February 7 [23 favorites]


The Observer loves painting the NYTimes as liberal because it suits their impoverished "he-said-she-said" understanding of journalism. Fact is, from Iraq to Wall Street to OWS, from megadeveloper Bruce Ratner to incoming brutalist/NYPD Commish Bill Bratton, the NYTimes has written from the dead right-wing and has always been one grand blowjob toward the elite. Sometimes they'll pit one elite against another...

Whereas our Observer mostly leans 100% Democrat - so basically, the "other" center right (the Penny Pritzkers, the Rahm Emmanuels) that is nominally liberal in that they care about where their spinach comes from, but not so liberal that they care if their server has insurance or is being gentrified out of his neighborhood.

Fact is - we have no actual liberal paper in NYC, which is a travesty considering our new mayor. That the NYTimes was wrong about that one just speaks to their slavish devotion to big money elites rather than anyone remotely - and actually - liberal.
posted by yonation at 4:36 PM on February 7 [9 favorites]


I know people who work for NYT and none of them have anything positive to say about Andrew Rosenthal, nor his father, Abe Rosenthal.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:36 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


The best was when someone coined the "Friedman unit" back in the Iraq War - the time, usually another 6 months, that must elapse before the entire catastrophe would be revealed as a great success. Oh the lulz.
posted by thelonius at 4:37 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]


Fact is - we have no actual liberal paper in NYC

Are there ANY newspapers anywhere in the country which mimic the progressive values which are so excellently modeled by Democracy Now!?

Because that is the TRUE liberal media which FauxNews is always claiming all other outlets are... and it is widely ignored by basically everyone.
posted by hippybear at 4:40 PM on February 7 [10 favorites]


It's amazing people still believe the NYT is liberal in the first place; it's always been the Pravda on the Hudson, mouthpiece for the establishment.

... Indeed - that's why it published the Pentagon Papers and has been reporting on the NSA revelations.


And relentlessly pounded the Whitewater non-scandal, put George Bush in the White House because Al Gore was fat, and helped lie the way into the Iraq War.
posted by JackFlash at 4:41 PM on February 7 [9 favorites]


hippybear: "Are there ANY newspapers anywhere in the country which mimic the progressive values which are so excellently modeled by Democracy Now!?"

The Onion?

I'm only half-kidding about this...
posted by schmod at 4:48 PM on February 7 [15 favorites]


It's not all bad for the edit staff - they did find one retired sportswriter to say something nice about them.
posted by one_bean at 4:48 PM on February 7


What is this, Metafilter's official "let's backstab the liberals" week?

Anyway, the problem with a lot of these New York Times columnists isn't that they write, it's that they are published every single week whether or not they have anything particular worth reading. Several months ago, there was a Ross Douthat column on Sunday about the Obamacare website fiasco, whose entire point was "Didn't we keep hearing during the election about how Team Obama is so web-savvy and techno-wired? Looks like Team Obama isn't so smart after all, haw haw haw!" (Dear Ross, the ACA is a government project administered by the Dept. of Health & Human Services, not by Obama For America.) And all I could think was "God! It must be hard to have to come up with something to be published in the Times every week, whether or not you really have any insights on the subject that put you ahead of everyone else they could have published." Seriously, the NYT needs a broader net of regular political op-ed writers.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 4:50 PM on February 7 [10 favorites]


It's important to remember also the Observer, while centralist in tone, is also run by and for the society page and member of the met museum board set. Family money gossip and interests.
posted by The Whelk at 4:51 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


And yeah, don't engage with people who have a vested financial interest in never getting less outraged.
posted by The Whelk at 4:53 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


put George Bush in the White House because Al Gore was fat

What?
posted by sweetkid at 5:04 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


“He runs the show and is lazy as all get-out,” says a current Times writer, and one can almost hear the Times-ness in his controlled anger (who but a Timesman uses the phrase “as all get-out” these days?).

ME, now that I'll think to.

Particularly strong criticism, to the point of resentful (some might say jealous), was directed at Thomas Friedman ...

THE WORLD IS FLAT SAYS THE FRIED MAN.
posted by JHarris at 5:14 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


This thread is suffering from something of a confusion about the difference between the "editorial" and the "opinion" voices of the NYT. Here is a link that outlines who comprises the NYT editorial board. As you will notice, none of the people you love to hate belong to it. Neither David Brooks nor Thomas Friedman speak for the NYT, any more than Paul Krugman does. They are simply regular contributors of opinion columns.
posted by yoink at 5:15 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


(Honestly, Friedman is far off my personal radar, but everything I've heard about him makes me amazed he's continued to find work. Taibbi especially seems to find a lot of material in skewering him.)
posted by JHarris at 5:16 PM on February 7


The problem with the NYT isn't illiberality. The NYT is fairly liberal, but it's not truly Leftist: it's comfortable with the status quo, it does not aim at transforming basic structures of inequality or their socio-cultural correlates, and its sense of social justice is rather conservative.

But that's hardly surprising, is it? Nobody except the most hard-core revanchist troglodytes think the NYT is anything but fundamentally centrist in orientation, just slightly left of center really. The NYT is still easily among the best daily newspapers in the country if not the very best, just because of its resources and position in the field of journalism; but while it's fairly liberal (for America) it's certainly not a Leftist publication. We don't often speak in the civil sphere about the distinction between Leftism and liberalism, but this is a great example of where the divide matters.
posted by clockzero at 5:20 PM on February 7 [19 favorites]


On the other hand, the NYT editorial team managed to get the CBO report on jobs and Obamacare care exactly right while many reporters were still running around, yelling about jobs being lost.
posted by etaoin at 5:27 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


I've heard that if you use, say, the "incognito" feature of Chrome, or whatever your browser of choice calls it, nytimes.com can't trace you well enough to make you pay to read more than 10 editorials a month.
Me, I like giving money to the Times because of their indispensible role in getting us into the war in Iraq, so I'd never do that.
posted by uosuaq at 5:28 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


It is kind of insane that it takes 19 people to produce that section, that's all I'm saying.

"When was the last time you were surprised by something in the opinion pages of the New York Times..."

I'm surprised that it takes 19 people to produce that section.
posted by limeonaire at 5:29 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


"When was the last time you were surprised by something in the opinion pages of the New York Times..."

Well, I'm constantly surprised that people characterize the New York Times as "liberal".

(And let's recall that the Pentagon Papers (cited above as evidence of the Times' "liberal" nature) was

a) not a particularly "liberal" thing to do, to simply tell the American people that the government had been lying to them; and

b) was fully FORTY YEARS AGO.)

If the Times was liberal in the 1970s, well, so was America.
BOTH have moved relentlessly rightward in the TWO GENERATIONS since then.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 5:30 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


Friedman is on an impossible-to-parody autopilot program

Thomas Friedman Op-Ed Generator
posted by benzenedream at 5:32 PM on February 7 [8 favorites]


On the other hand, the NYT editorial team managed to get the CBO report on jobs and Obamacare care exactly right while many reporters were still running around, yelling about jobs being lost.

That is true, but let's not forget -- let's not forget, dude -- that the "jobs being lost" interpretation of the CBO report was, itself, a blatant mischaracterization. Once again, the NYT got the facts right, and that is to their credit -- as journalists, though, not as liberals. It's sort of sad (and this is not directed at you, etaoin) that getting the facts straight and not mindlessly repeating tendentious narratives might be considered liberal rather than responsible journalism.
posted by clockzero at 5:38 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


I think some people don't understand the difference between "liberal" and "left"
posted by atoxyl at 5:39 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


Charles Blow doesn't suck.
posted by pallen123 at 5:50 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


hippybear: "Are there ANY newspapers anywhere in the country which mimic the progressive values which are so excellently modeled by Democracy Now!?"

I'll take my news without modeling, thank you.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:54 PM on February 7


I found out the other day that the best way to read Tom Friedman is to visit him on the Chinese edition of the Times and pipe it back through Google Translate. Try it! It makes the world feel even flatter.
posted by tss at 6:06 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


so excellently modeled by Democracy Now

Since I find Democracy Now totally unlistenable, I am glad the answer is mostly nope. In most markets they seem to get an hour or two on a low powered community radio station, so the newspaper equivalent might be one of those free newspapers by the bathroom in a vegan cafe?
posted by Dip Flash at 6:07 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]


In most markets they seem to get an hour or two on a low powered community radio station

Or, you know, an actual TV news show via Free Speech TV, which is available on many television providers.
posted by hippybear at 6:37 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Everyone who badmouths the New York Times still somehow seems always to read it...No mention of the "terrible" Krugman? And, after all, who is revealing the inside dope on the paper? A rival in the business.
posted by Postroad at 6:49 PM on February 7


Hi, Clockzero, totally agree. My point wasn't that the page is liberal or not, but that for once, the editorial page had better reporting than many news reporters who completely got the report wrong.
posted by etaoin at 6:55 PM on February 7


Yeah, without a doubt.
posted by clockzero at 7:10 PM on February 7


The bit I like is where they gather all the day's gun violence up into one big summary each day. I'm envisioning a performance piece where someone reads them all one after another nonstop while occasionally firing shots in the air.
posted by newdaddy at 7:18 PM on February 7


thelonius: The best was when someone coined the "Friedman unit" back in the Iraq War - the time, usually another 6 months, that must elapse before the entire catastrophe would be revealed as a great success.

That would be Atrios, who also coined "Big Shitpile" back in 2006 or 2007 to describe the oncoming mortgage apocalyse.
posted by tavella at 7:23 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


thanks - that was back when I still read politics blogs, but I couldn't remember the creator. That was truly inspired, a great discovery.
posted by thelonius at 7:36 PM on February 7


Seriously, the NYT needs a broader net of regular political op-ed writers.

Maybe some women and/or nonwhite people, even. Because it's not just "Oh man, hard to churn out a column every week!" it's "The NYT has pretty much covered how rich white dudes feel about things, what else is there to say, really?"

Of course, this week, they're giving Woody Allen a special place to explain that he didn't really abuse that kid 20 years ago, so maybe there is one more thing for a rich white dude to say that they hadn't covered.
posted by emjaybee at 8:07 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


What I find amusing is how members of the same institution can't find a way to resolve their conflict without needing the issue to be aired publicly by a third party. That's like, the definition of ineffectual.
posted by polymodus at 8:07 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Like the ridiculous "even the liberal" Slate article yesterday, it really should be emphasized that most of these criticisms are from the right, not the left, and not apolitical. A few selections from the anonymous complaints in the article:

They’re completely reflexively liberal, utterly predictable, usually poorly written and totally ineffectual....

They’re horribly doctrinaire, down the line, and that goes for the couple of conservatives in the bunch...

It really isn’t about politics, because I land more to the left than I do to the right...

It’s definitely a left-wing, progressive page, but I find the editorials very interesting...

The fact of the matter is the Wall Street Journal editorial page just kicks our editorial page’s ass. I mean there’s just no contest, from top to bottom, and it’s disappointing...

I'm sure the editorial page is boring, Rosenthal is a bully, and Friedman is an embarrassment. But this is not a neutral story about liberal-leaning reporters being dissatisfied with their editorial page and op-ed team. This is a political story by a political newspaper pretending to be another "even the liberal X" article, just like the Slate one was.
posted by chortly at 8:14 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


It makes the world feel even flatter.

You ain't whistlin' Dixie! Friedmanese > Chinese > English... comes out remarkably Friedmanesqe:
foreign policy expert, said: "Everything Obama does is wrong," and the American public, said:. "We've lost interest in this area, we NFL (National Football League, referred to as the NFL) in the The new season is wistfully, how do you think the 49ers like? "

But in fact, three views are based on a logic.
...

Mandelbaum said that the main foreign policy tool has been very effective during the Cold War, "such as guns, money and political rhetoric, could not complete the new task, like opening cans, like a sponge."
Dude is like a half-sentient Twitterbot with an expense account. Wistfully, I could do that job...
posted by hap_hazard at 8:50 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Brooks, Friedman, Dowd, Kristof, Douthat, and Nocera all need to be fired. It's remarkable any have jobs as writers.

At least Dowd is occasionally funny.


Dowd has been writing the same column for almost twenty years. Each sentence contains a noun, a verb, and Monica Lewinsky.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:13 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


As someone who doesn't read the NYT unless I'm linked to it from somewhere else, can someone tell me what the problem with Kristof is?
posted by triggerfinger at 9:20 PM on February 7


This is a good summary of the problem with Kristof.

The White-Savior Industrial Complex
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:41 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


The NYT is still easily among the best daily newspapers in the country if not the very best, just because of its resources and position in the field of journalism

Yeah, I devour a lot of journalism, domestic and foreign, and I'm constantly struck by how regularly and roundly NYT kicks its competition's ass, particularly on tough international topics like Syria and Afghanistan. If those reporters are massively unhappy, management should pay attention.
posted by eugenen at 11:05 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


> Several months ago, there was a Ross Douthat column on Sunday about the Obamacare
> website fiasco, whose entire point was "Didn't we keep hearing during the election
> about how Team Obama is so web-savvy and techno-wired? Looks like Team Obama isn't
> so smart after all, haw haw haw!" (Dear Ross, the ACA is a government project
> administered by the Dept. of Health & Human Services, not by Obama For America.)

Interesting exculpatory theory. So the smart people we tried to elect to high office, and the smart people who advise them, don't actually govern the country? It's still the same old unaccountable bureaucrats and contractors as ever who are in charge? And Ross doesn't know that, but should?

And the smart people, how about them? Do they not know they're window dressing either, or are they just not letting on?
posted by jfuller at 5:57 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


My favorite recent Brooks critique: I smoked pot with David Brooks
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:08 AM on February 8


"Are there ANY newspapers anywhere in the country which mimic the progressive values which are so excellently modeled by Democracy Now!?"

The Onion?
No, that's marxist.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:09 AM on February 8


A relative gave me a Friedman book for Christmas so I played a game with a stopwatch, how long would it take me to find an idiotic quote in it.

Of course after a while I apologized but it never took more than 30 seconds. And my taxi cab driver in Karachi, bootstrapping himself into capitalism, agreed.

EDIT: oops I forgot to mention Paul Gigot. When he's gone from the WSJ editorial board I might restart my subscription.
posted by surplus at 7:27 AM on February 8


"When was the last time you were surprised by something in the opinion pages of the New York Times, leaving aside the moments you were surprised by how awful something was?"

Can you leave aside the moments how unsurprised you are by how awful something was?

Always hear Zapp Brannigan when I read Friedman:
'If we hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes should fall like a house of cards. Checkmate!'
posted by Smedleyman at 12:47 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Interesting exculpatory theory. So the smart people we tried to elect to high office, and the smart people who advise them, don't actually govern the country?

I took the quote about "how Team Obama is so web-savvy and techno-wired" to refer to the tech team that ran his campaign (the Technology Field Office). I worked for years with one of the people who led that (before he left to go to the Obama campaign), and they are (a) definitely not the same people who made the ACA website, and (b) not in the administration.

Now, you can (and should!) argue that if his campaign was able to choose and attract competent people for the campaign, why not for the ACA? Although I think the answer has to do with how government contracts are awarded, and the kinds of legal and regulatory issues that dissuade people from wanting to work on such projects.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:32 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


I think some people don't understand the difference between "liberal" and "left"

As far as I can tell, the difference is the same as the one argued about when people talk about "authenticity" -- that is -- completely subjective, and mostly used as a club to increase social status or to avoid loosing such. I long for the day that people talk about what they actually believe rather than what social group they feel they should be lumped into.
posted by smidgen at 11:56 PM on February 8


Bill Keller is out
posted by clockzero at 7:48 PM on February 9


Since someone had already spoken up for Charles Blow, I will speak up for Gail Collins and recommend her appearance on Employee of the Month.
posted by Xalf at 6:04 AM on February 10


« Older Demonstrators in Bosnia-Hercegovina have set fire ...  |  A former Serco (previously) em... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments