Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.
The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
Prisoners of Azkaban
Friday, June 06, 2003
The Raines It Paineth Every Way
The resignation of Howell Raines has a certain irony to it - Raines has himself become the latest victim of the smear machine he worked for years to hone and aim at Bill Clinton and Al Gore. The conduct of Jayson Blair was a real scandal, although not obviously worse than that of people like Jeff Gerth, Kat Seelye, Frank Bruni who remain at the paper, spinning half-truths and lies to serve the GOP. They never lie free lance, so they don't have to worry about the fate of Jayson Blair.
The subsequent Bragg mini-scandal was a nice touch of the style. Discredit your adversary, then blow up any trivial incident and call it a scandal; people will buy the new story and start to think of your target as chronically dishonest. Bragg was guilty of using unattributed work by a stringer in a story. This was at best a trivial incident. The Times reviews every week books not actually written by the famous person whose name is on the cover; scholarly jourmals are filled with articles which list a professor as lead author although most of the research and writing was done by graduate students listed as co-authors; many politicians haven't given a speech that includes their own words in years; it was well known that the reason Bill Bennett was able to generate such a vast stream of books and articles touting his own moral superiority was that he was signing his own name to work prepared by others. All this is doubtless deplorable, but the reality is that it is common and tolerated - yet suddenly a fairly minor instance of it appears in the Times, and the nation is shocked, shocked, at such goings on.
That Howell Raines is now hoist on his own petard, one he built over years to serve the same rightists who now use it against him, has a rich irony more like a novel than real life. At least this time, the victim is somebody who deserves to have his reputation trashed.
If you have any suspicion that the result will actually be a better newspaper, forget it. Avedon Carol has the scoop on former editor Joe Lelyveld, who will now be taking over.