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Hullabaloo


Monday, February 28, 2011

 
The Paris Hilton Of Newspapers Sees What He Expects To See

by digby

Unsurprisingly, it turns out that Keith Olberman is a very good blogger. (If you haven't seen his new blog, check it out.) Today's post about the NY Times heir Sulzberger making an epic mistake is well worth reading:

Few news stories better spoke to the destruction of union solidarity and the realization that even those public employees collectively bargaining in Wisconsin were going to have to give something back, than the New York Times’ piece a week ago tomorrow titled “Union Bonds In Wisconsin Begin To Fray.”

The by-line was shared by no less than Arthur G. Sulzberger, the son of the publisher and official carrier of the Times’ family name. The piece ran prominently on the front page. Sulzberger himself interviewed the main ‘get’ in the piece. Beyond the mere reporting was the symbolism of the Times - even the sainted liberal media Times – throwing in the towel on the inviolability of unions, conceding that an American state could renege with impunity on a good faith contract with anybody, and that maybe the Right is right every once in awhile.

Problem is, A.G. Sulzberger’s featured disillusioned unionist interviewee…wasn’t in a union...the source, Rick Hahn, now admits that while he worked in union factories, he was never, you know, in a union per se. So why did the Diogenes of the Times, Mr. Sulzberger, believe he had found his honest union man? Because Hahn “described himself to a reporter as a ‘union guy.’”

Olbermann points out that while the story was on page one, the correction was buried on page five. But while he may be a good blogger and a great broadcaster, he missed a very important part of this story. But Jonathan at A Tiny Revolution caught it right away:

For me the best part of the Scott Walker prank call is how much he loves a New York Times article:

SCOTT WALKER: The New York Times, of all things—I don't normally tell people to read the New York Times, but the front page of the New York Times, they've got a great story—one of these unbelievable moments of true journalism—what it's supposed to be, objective journalism—they got out of the capital and went down one county south of the capital, to Janesville, to Rock County, that's where the General Motors plant once was.

FAKE DAVID KOCH: Right, right.

WALKER: They moved out two years ago. The lead on this story's about a guy who was laid off two years ago, he'd been laid off twice by GM, who points out that everybody else in his town has had to sacrifice except for all these public employees, and it's about damn time they do and he supports me. And they had a bartender, they had—every stereotypical blue collar worker-type, they interviewed, and the only ones who weren't with us were ones who were either a public employee or married to a public employee. It's an unbelievable—so I went through and called all these, uh, a handful, a dozen or so lawmakers I worry about each day, and said to them, everyone, get that story and print it out and send it to anybody giving you grief.

Noting the fact that the article was written by Sulzberger Jr he later wrote:

So that's ominously funny and funnily ominous in its own right. But we don't need to try to predict how honest New York Times coverage will be in the future when A.G. Sulzberger becomes publisher...because we can just examine his writing right now. Sulzberger just wrote a 733-word article about the prank call. Number of mentions of Walker loving a certain Sulzberger-written New York Times article? Zero.

Yes, that's right. Sulzberger Jr also wrote the article for the NY Times about Walker's prank call and never mentioned that Walker had talked at length about his own (incorrect) article in the call.

One hates to think that just because Sulzberger is the heir to a great newspaper empire that he has an agenda. And perhaps it's better to use Occam's Razor and just assume that he's lazy and inept as so many bosses sons are. But these events are ironically funny at the very least. Indeed, the fact that they assigned the Paris Hilton of newspapers to cover this story at all is hilarious, especially considering that he accepted the word of someone who said he was "a union man" and didn't bother to ask what union he belonged to. I'm guessing that Sulzberger Junior just assumed that no one would lie about being a member of a union. Or maybe he was the only person he could find to properly illustrate the article he already wanted to write.

This is a lovely little story of Big Media and its biases working in favor of the ruling class. Just as one would expect.


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