The Post and the Times want to be bad

When you complain about the Post or the Times, ultimately you’re complaining about Donald E. Graham and Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr. Either they are both doing a lazy, careless job, or else they want exactly the newspapers they’ve got. (Both of them are simultaneously board chairmen and directors of operations).
Except for myself and Arriana Huffington, I have never seen anyone else say this. I presume that this is because Graham and Sulzberger, however unscrupulous and mediocre they might be, still wield enormous institutional power. (Apparently I’m the only one in the liberal blogosphere who’s given up on ever being hired by the Times or the Post.)
It all sounds like a version of “If we could only speak to the Czar, he’d make things right again.” It’s always a low-level employee who’s blamed, though with Harris we’ve started to move up the ladder to some of the faceless people who actually make the big decisions. (Did anyone who Harris was two months ago?)
I think of Graham and Sulzberger as the feeble, corrupt last heirs of once-great dynasties, as in Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher”. Eerie flickering lights and dark shadows alternate confusedly within the inner sanctums of the Post and the Times, and God knows what perverse practices are going on within those crumbling mansions.

This is a point I’ve made before — this time it’s in response to this post by Brad DeLong at TPM Cafe. Earlier pieces of mine on this topic can be found here.
We really need a new, different media. The media we have now are utterly incorrigible.

6 thoughts on “The Post and the Times want to be bad

  1. Well, you and Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler who has never been afraid to “name names” either (and has apparently earned the animosity of some other liberal bloggers for this).

  2. Of course we need a new media, the problem is how do we go about getting one. Maybe you could put out some crazy far fetched ideas about how to get one.
    There was a time that it was an almost universally accepted fact that man could not fly and going to the moon was out of the question altogether.

  3. I sort of disagree.
    The Times and the Post are hopeless, yes, but I think that we need new politics more than than a new media. Look at ’68 and its effect on the media. Liberation (the Parisian daily) is probably the best example. The movement came first, then the paper. In America there was Telos and stuff like Ramparts & Rolling Stone.
    Why do we need a Times or a Post? To dig up stories like the Watergate break-in or to publish the Pentagon Papers? I believe most people think of those stories as examples of the media functioning as it should, and it is against this peak of journalistic integrity (and antagonism) to which the current incarnations of the Times and the Post are compared.
    The ideal seems to be that professional journalist-citizens-heros guard us against the Bad Guys, so we can, we can — what exactly? Be entertained over breakfast? Go about the real business of our lives? Tend to our work without having to worry about Politics? Pull the right lever at the next limited-choice plebiscite?
    Yes, the current media is dysfunctional in the classical liberal sense, and perhaps that liberal ideal was better than the propaganda organs they’ve become. On the other hand, it seems to me that if people were more directly involved in politics we wouldn’t even need a Post or a Times. The idea that we need an Organ of New Liberal Politics before we can have the politics seems too much like the same alienated politics we have today.

  4. First, I don’t regard the movements of 1968 as successful. Certainly not in the US.
    Second of all, outside the left community you find larges numbers of people who are grossly misinformed about very basic facts. If a bigger, more active left movement comes along, these people will actively oppose it. The sixties movements never got the word out.
    The media today are probably worse than the media of 1970. The news message is controlled with high management, and high management is responsive to the Bush administration and to right wing spokesmen. There are a lot of plants in the media who have ideological marching orders — they aren’t independent conservatives, but part of Norquist’s message machine.
    Recently the news came out that about 80 supposedly independent journalists are on a special email list from someone in the Republican machine. They’re not just conservative — they’re coordinating their message.

  5. If you don’t like 1968, then try 1956, the rise of fascism, 1917, or 1848, or 1789 or 1776 or whatever.
    I disagree with your assessment of ’68, especially about France, but I suppose it depends on what you call ‘success’. In any case, if ’68 was ‘unsuccessful’, yet still able to generate new media, how valuable is new media in and of itself?
    You seem to be taking the Chomskian-Enlightenement angle, that people need to be informed before they can act, or desire to act. I’m arguing that a political movement generates its own mode of information.
    For example, the Bolsheviks could hardly expect the bourgeois press to help them. They ended up doing things like making tiny movie theatres out of boxcars and running them out to the hinterlands to spread the word. There wouldn’t have been a October revolution had they focused their efforts on holding the Russian press to the ideals of bourgeois liberalism.

  6. For example, the Bolsheviks could hardly expect the bourgeois press to help them. They ended up doing things like making tiny movie theatres out of boxcars and running them out to the hinterlands to spread the word. There wouldn’t have been a October revolution had they focused their efforts on holding the Russian press to the ideals of bourgeois liberalism.
    What the fuck are you trying to say? You’ve lost me. Those tiny movie theatres on boxcars are an example of new media. Not the same one I proposed, but the same kind of thing.
    I am NOT trying to reform the bourgeois press. I am proposing that a new national newspaper be founded.
    You seem to be lost in a fog of ideological stances, spontaneism, and historical tidbits. The point I’ve been trying to make is that we aren’t be able to get the word out because the other side controls all the media. A high proportion of Americans, perhaps 50%, have never heard our point of view at all (and I’m speaking as a liberal Democrat, not a radical). If that’s the Chomskyian Enlightenment, I can live with that. I have no idea what you think is wrong with what I’ve said.
    I was astonished at the intensity of left-liberal opposition to the very idea that a radio network should be started up. Moron liberals were crawling out of the woodwork to explain that Air America was a bad idea and sure to fail. The left and the liberals seem incapable of imagining any political initiative of any kind, and they seem to have no awareness of how politics works.
    After 1968 we had six terms of the three worst presidents in US history. plus Bush I, plus three terms of lame Democrats. Congress ultimately fell under the control of frightenlingly loony Republicans. Where’s the victory in that? (In the present context, France makes no difference.)

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