Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The New York Times

Yesterday I lambasted the Times for using Ashcroftian language. The word "troublemaker" was used in a headline to describe anti-war activists who have been investigated and harassed by the FBI. The article was good, but the language was highly suspect to my cynical eyes.

Today a Times editorial came down squarely on the side of civil liberties. I am glad, but the Times bears watching. It isn't as liberal as advertised and it has been very biased in favor of Bush in some of its campaign reporting.

I wrote a letter to the Times Public Editor and I received this reply. Here it is:

"Thank you for your message.I raised your observations with a senior editor. You may have a point that the headline could have been written more clearly.He noted that the word would not have been used it in the body of the story. Implicit in the structure of the headline is the idea that it is the FBI -- not The Times -- that regards these people as troublemakers. The headline is saying in effect that the FBI will be knocking on the doors of the people it considers troublemakers.Thanks for writing."

Yes, the headline could have been written more clearly. As I said, I was happy with yesterday's article and with today's editorial, but Democrats can never give the media the benefit of the doubt. We have to call them on everything.

One of the reasons I was so harsh with the Times is that protesters have been treated very badly by the City of New York and by the New York media. We are now suspected of bringing a repeat of Chicago circa 1968. Having attended other protests in New York City I don't know why anyone would say that. Protests have been peaceful and generated relatively few arrests. Even liberals are dredging up the Chicago bogeyman. Mayor Bloomberg implied that the right to protest is a privilege. Perhaps I missed that day in school, but I thought we had the right to speak and assemble freely.

So if I seem sensitive about the issue it is because I am. I hope you are too.