Jewish World Review Feb 13, 2014 / 13 Adar I, 5774
NYT shocker: Times scribes discover editorial page is dull, pointless
By Paul Greenberg
The natives are restless. That's the word from the
How describe some of the news coverage in the country's former paper of record? Think of an aged dowager coated with rouge and acting like a flapper out to win a Charleston contest. Appalling, maybe, but times are tough, and the old girl's got to do what she can to stir up a little interest in her leaden prose.
(N.B. However critical those of us who lost faith in the Times circa 1980 may be, we are honor-bound to note that its obituaries remain matchless -- as if its ideological prejudices stopped at the edge of the River Styx.)
When the Times isn't engaged in doing what it can to undermine national security, it's doing what it can to support
The Times did what it could to help her not long ago by running a "news" story echoing Our Lady of Benghazi's account of the massacre there being just the result of a popular demonstration that got out of hand.
This era's Times ("All the News That's Not Fit to Print") has explained all of that away. At least to the satisfaction of the usual Democratic apparatchiks and upper-class gulls in general. Anything to grease the rails for
But now, according to the Observer's latest report on the rarefied atmosphere at the Times, the rank-and-file out in its newsroom are said to be unhappy with the paper's editorials, and especially its editorial page editor, whoever he may be these days. ("The Tyranny and Lethargy of the Times Editorial Page" --
It always comes as a surprise to learn that Times editorial writers have names, their prose is so personalityless. They don't so much write in sentences and paragraphs as churn out clots of political conventionalities on order. They write like people who get assignments rather than come up with ideas of their own. However bad their own ideas might be, at least they'd stand a chance of interesting the reader, or just eliciting a sincere groan, rather than boring him beyond death.
The editorialists at the Times might as well be presidential speechwriters, their product is so tedious. To read it all the way through is like having to attend one of those endless testimonial banquets that go from 6:30 to eternity.
Scientists who claim that black holes are the only physical feature of the universe not a single ray of light can escape must never have tried to read one of the editorials in the
The editorials in the Times must be meant not to be read but analyzed, like a chemical compound, or the way kremlinologists used to mine Stalin's speeches for a clue to coming Soviet policy, or just a hint of humanity -- in vain.
If, like the vast majority of Americans, you're unfamiliar with the
The word from the Observer is that the news side of the Times has discovered that the editorials are vapid, researchless, unoriginal, devoid of any real ideas, utterly boring and generally not worth reading. And, oh, yes, without real influence. To think, it took those ace reporters at the Times only 10 years or so to notice. You can't keep anything from those ever-sniffing newshounds. Now they've discovered that the editorials in their publication are boring. I am shocked, shocked....
The only thing surprising about this "discovery" is that the reporters would bother to read the editorials in the first place. They may be the only ones who do, besides a few college professors who are gluttons for bad prose. Plus cosseted denizens of the East Side who don't know any better but must keep up appearances by adding a copy of today's Times to their ensemble when they venture out of their high-rises to Zabar's for something decent to eat -- if they can manage to sneak a good pastrami sandwich past the food police in
When the time comes to fill out the death certificate for the Great American Editorial, once a robust fixture on the American scene, the cause of death will be listed as Terminal Boredom, and the No. 1 suspect in this homicide-suicide will be editorial pages like the one the
The only surprising thing about this "discovery" that the editorials in the Times are boring -- indeed, boredom codified, indexed and archived in triplicate -- is that any of its reporters should have troubled to read them. For the Times' editorials are a powerful enough soporific that they should require
Congratulations to the news side at the Times for noticing, however late, that there's something rotten over there on the opinion side, and even daring to murmur about it. It's always good when the political proclivities of reporters and editorial writers differ. So they can balance each other.
The remarkable thing about this little tiff between news and opinion at the NYT is that both share the same conventional liberal/progressive prejudices. It's just that the reporters at the Times believe the opinionators should better express them. It's a shame the reporters don't have more interesting fare to complain about over on the other side of what ought to be the Great Wall between news and opinion at every respectable newspaper. Long may it stand.
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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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