William Kristol and the NYT: Symptom of a Greater Malady

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CommonDreams.org

William Kristol and the NYT: Symptom of a Greater Malady

The decision by the New York Times to put William Kristol on their op-ed page exposes all that is wrong with the Mainstream Media.

Kristol's introduction into the MSM is what phlegm is to the flu- a symptom of a far worse pathology.

Andy Rosenthal - NYT editorial page editor - reacted to criticism of the Time's decision by claiming not to understand "this weird fear of opposing views."

Actually, Mr. Rosenthal, I suspect the fact that you're hiring a proven idiot and a liar has more to do with the anger you're seeing.

For example, Kristol apparently did not know how visceral the split between Shia and Sunni Moslems was; he nevertheless encouraged Bush in kicking out the UN inspectors and rushing to war. He continued to insist that WMDs were in Iraq long after it was evident there were none. He maintains that he and the Bush administration were victims of bad intelligence even after it became obvious that Bush and Cheney were the progenitors of that bad intel, and he himself pedaled it credulously. Worse, he fiercely advocated a nuclear strike on Iran, and then slinked away without apology when the NIE showed how tragic that course of action would have been. His foreign policy errors are exceeded only by his domestic fiscal prescriptions. I could go on. And on. Mr. Kristol's record clearly shows he has been wrong (when facts turn out to contradict preceding statements, that's not a "different perspective" Sir -- that's an error) on nearly every prognostication and recommendation he's made for well over a decade.

Now, it's obvious the Times believes adding conservatives will expand their readership and help deal with Murdoch and the WSJ. Well, it's worth a try, I guess. But if that's your game, Mr. Rosenthal, you'd be better off hiring a competent conservative, not this blatherer.

By the way, my guess is you'll lose more liberals and progressives than you'll gain conservatives with this strategy. In fact, you'll probably lose some conservatives. Times readers are intelligent and value opinion informed by fact and dedicated to accurately reflecting the context and reality of the world we find ourselves in. Counterfactual assertions grounded in strident ideologies such as those Kristol regularly spews out have little appeal to thinking readers -- whether conservative or liberal.

But again, the fact that Kristol has escaped from Faux News into the MSM is really an indicator that the MSM has become a business driven by the bottom line, not a profession driven by ethics. It shows clearly that "balance" has become the sine qua non of journalism. Thus, if the Times piles a ton of bullshit on one side of the scale, and a ton of verifiable, factual data on the other, balance is achieved and the new business of journalism is satisfied. Especially if readership increases.

But wait, you say. Conservatism is a legitimate perspective that must be represented. Really? We've been running close to a forty year experiment with conservative governance, with only a partial break during the Clinton years, and the results are in.

See, the conservative mantra of weak governments, low taxes, and reliance on the magic markets to deliver all good things by serendipity, simply hasn't worked, and is need of a much stronger defense than anything Kristol can mount.

Conservatism and it's mutant step-child, neo-conservatism, is an odd mix of competing ideological assertions without foundation, and the results of our continuing experiments with it are a toxic brew of unintended consequences, and consequences that are the opposite of those advertised. They preach fiscal conservatism but produce record debt; they advocate freedom, but shred the Bill of Rights; they espouse values but produce record breaking greed, graft and corruption.

Weak government and reliance on the magic markets has brought us global warming, unprecedented corruption, wealth inequities equal to that experienced in the Gilded Age, the most expensive -- and least effective -- health care system in the developed world, and a mortgage and credit meltdown that borders on criminal. It has also brought us record debt, and an evisceration of our constitutional form of governance, and an unprecedented loss of freedom that would make our Founders weep - all the more tragic in that it was done in defense of freedom. Finally, Mr. Kristol's unique brand of neo-conservatism has resulted in the greatest foreign policy blunders in our nations' history, trillions of dollars wasted, and more than 100,000 deaths, nearly 4000 of them Americans.

Those are the facts, Mr. Rosenthal. Making "balance" more important than accuracy, insight and reality is unlikely to win the Times many readers, and it will certainly lose you many more. Signing up champions of this discredited philosophy makes little sense -- signing up an advocate who has gotten everything wrong for a decade or more makes less.

Unless of course this is another of the Grey Lady's liberal plots to discredit conservatism. Giving a man like Kristol a forum and making this idiocy transparent might be the best way to show the folly of its tenets.

I cancelled my subscription after the Judith Miller fiasco, the Plamegate incident and your failure to cover the Downing Street memos. I figured three stikes and you're out. But in the past year, I've been buying the Times at news stands with increasing frequency. Everyone deserves another chance, I told myself.

You just blew yours.

At any rate, goodbye and good luck. You've consigned your once great paper to something less valuable than bird cage liner and fish wrap.

John Atcheson

John Atcheson is author of the novel, A Being Darkly Wise, an eco-thriller and Book One of a Trilogy centered on global warming. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News and other major newspapers. Atcheson’s book reviews are featured on Climateprogess.org.

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