Thursday, October 1, 2009

How to Avoid a Foolish Consistency

It's time for a quiz on American mainstream journalism. Ready?

Who wrote the following?
"There is a lot of good news in the latest intelligence assessment about Iran. Tehran, we are now told, halted its secret nuclear weapons program in 2003, which means that President Bush has absolutely no excuse for going to war against Iran. We are also relieved that the intelligence community is now willing to question its own assumptions and challenge the White House's fevered rhetoric. The president and his aides are apparently too worried about getting caught again shaving intelligence to stop that. . . . We don't know if the Iranians will find any offer [of high-level diplomacy] credible, or if they even want to. It is the least Mr. Bush can do to try to salvage his credibility with the American people and America's allies."
Hands are waving. Why, that was easy: it's from an editorial published by the Grey Lady herself, the New York Times -- you know, "All the news that's fit to print," the gold standard of journalism, "the newspaper of record"... you get the drift. Published on Dec 5, 2007.

Ready for another one? Who wrote this one?

"Iran has a long history of lying and cheating about its nuclear program, so the news that it has been secretly building another plant to manufacture nuclear fuel is hardly a shock. But it provides one more compelling reason (are any more needed?) why the United States and other major powers must be ready to quickly adopt--and enforce--tough new sanctions if negotiations fail to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions."
So what's your guess? Fox News? Nope. The Washington Times? Uh-uh. National Review? You're getting colder. The Jerusalem Post? Rush Limbaugh? The American Spectator? George F. Will? Commentary? The Heritage Foundation? Bill O'Reilly? Wall Street Journal? Sean Hannity? Donald Rumsfeld? Glenn Beck?

Not even close.

Time's up. Er, so to speak.

Believe it or not, again, that was from an editorial published by the Grey Lady herself, the New York Times -- you know, "All the news that's fit to print," the gold standard of journalism, "the newspaper of record"... yep. Those guys again. Published Sep 26, 2009.

Confused? You shouldn't be.

What was that observation about "double standards" again? Goes like this: behind every apparent double standard lurks an unacknowledged single standard.

So, in this instance, what could that single standard possibly be? What changed between 2007 and 2009? Can you think of anything? Hmmm?

Perhaps the most important thing that has changed is, well, the fellow and the political party who control the federal government. That was some change, I guess. Enough so, that what was once "fevered rhetoric" has now become a "compelling reason."

Air was wrong if President Bush breathed it. Sabre-rattling is right if President Obama does it.

Liberal journalists like to protest that the mainstream media is objective, unbiased, balanced, impartial, etc. -- to which I say, baloney. But now I have to admit, you can indeed get both sides of the story from the New York Times.

All you have to do is wait for America to elect someone they happen to like.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." But how much consistency does it take to cross the threshold into foolishness? Hard to say -- Emerson didn't specify. It may require quite a lot. But, as I'm sure the NYT editorial board would agree, why take any chances?

(Hat tip: James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web.")

1 comment:

marlinmike said...

Hi Lee,

Good stuff. I love analyses like that. Catches them pun intended...well, maybe just a little one.