erik lundegaard

NY Times: A Graf Too Far

A couple of bits in yesterday's NY Times turned me off the paper for the day — both in the Week in Review section. (Loudon Wainwright: "Now who in the hell wants a review?/ Once was enough for me, thank you.")

Peter Goodman's piece — on the Long Island Wal-Mart employee trampled to death by shoppers looking for bargains on Black Friday — went a graf too far. It should've ended with the pinata metaphor ("lots of treats in there, but no guarantee that you will get any"), but kept going to this: "It seemed fitting then, in a tragic way, that the holiday season began..." Fitting? That's some cold shit. And part of the Times' habit to make the news fit the times.

Then in Anand Giridharadas' piece on the Mumbai terrorist attacks, we got this graf on the reaction to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's "emotionless" television address to the nation:

His temperateness helped to keep the ever-present threat of religious riots at bay. But it also seemed to misread the mood of a country that wanted it to be 9/11 — if not in the sense of war and conquest, then in the sense of instant clarity, of the simple feeling that an era had ended and that enough was, at last, enough.

So if the Prime Minister misread the mood of the country, how does a journalist exactly read the mood of a country? The evidence given, in the following graf, is all YouTube commentary. Not exactly an unimpeachable source. More, if this is in fact the mood of the country, why doesn't the paper question it? Two areas to delve into: How are the Mumbai attacks not like 9/11? And where did that supposed post-9/11 clarity take the U.S.? Few things, after all, can be as obfuscating as clarity.

Makng up for all this is David Barstow's must-read piece on retired U.S. generals like Barry McCaffrey working for military contractors and the media at the same time — without mentioning the former to the latter, or to the latter's viewers, or to Congress when testifying on military policy. Even Ike didn't foresee this. A new question to ask when analysts show up on the news or before Congress: Who else do you work for?


Posted at 08:12 AM on Mon. Dec 01, 2008 in category Culture  
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