Thursday, January 13, 2005
New York Times, Who's Your Daddy?
That would be us. The liberals. The ones who pay your bills. The ones who make you relevant. The ones who buy your paper and read you over the Internet.
Speaking of the Internet, I got an e-mail today from firstname.lastname@example.org (we go way back...what a character) that had a list of which articles "piqued" our interest last year: "the 10 Most Viewed NYTImes.com articles from 2004."
How many stories written by Judith Miller made the top 10? How many columns by best-selling non-fictioner Iraq War supporter Thomas Friedman or conservative icon William Safire or conservative rising star and consumate smirker David Brooks? Let me count again. The answer is none.
Okay. So a story about sex trafficking did come in at number one. We're not taking credit for that one. Not as a whole, at least. I'm certain of one thing, though. The picture (tied to the story) that made the front page of The New York Times Magazine has probably gotten far more hits, but most of those hits were on Websites that you have to tap in "yes I agree" and your credit card numbers before you can view them. Or so they say...I, myself, have no knowledge of any of this...I just read about it in a Pete Townshend interview.
But in second place was Ron Suskind's "Without A Doubt" about Bush's Messianic ideas, which scared the hell out of us (too bad it didn't scare the whatever-the-heck-is-in-him out of him). Now just this story, alone, New York Times, being number two proves that we're your daddy, because we're the only ones running around worried that our President has traded in the Constitution for the Left Behind series.
(As Casey would say) Clocking in at number three is a front page story covering the Swift Boat Veterans. Not just any old story, but the one that contained "a series of interviews and a review of documents [that] show a web of connections to the Bush family, high-profile Texas political figures and President Bush's chief political aide, Karl Rove." Too bad no commercials were made about that story, then just us liberals wouldn't know the truth about the "for truth" crew. By the way, that story, written by Kate Zernike and Jim Ruenberg, is a must read (go google it...I'll tell you why I don't link directly to our misbehaving brat at the end of this post).
Weighing in at number four is A.O. Scott's review of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." Mr. email@example.com provides one sentence to describe the article: "While Michael Moore's documentary about the Bush administration has been likened to an op-ed column, it might more accurately be said to resemble an editorial cartoon." Hey...we liked that movie...didn't we? It doesn't sound like the fourth most read article at nytimes.com did. Actually, Mr. Scott hails the winner of the People's Choice Award for Best Movie as "an authentic and indispensable document of its time. The film can be seen as an effort to wrest clarity from shock, anger and dismay, and if parts of it seem rash, overstated or muddled, well, so has the national mood." Good, you almost threw us there for a second, Mr. firstname.lastname@example.org
My favorite voice at The Times (probably, our's too), Frank Rich, finished out the top five with "On 'Moral Values,' It's Blue in a Landslide." That's the column which proved the hype about morals winning the election on November 3rd was a lie, even if some of us believe that the polls that the story generated from were accurate-as-all-hell.
Unfortunately, except for the Michael Moore review, the biggest story in Iraq on the Website was about the decapitation of Nicholas Berg (a Dexter Filkins story at #6). This isn't a personal comment on the relevance of the story, it's a comment about how the biggest story about Iraq, a place where over 1300 US troops have lost their lives, and anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 Iraqis did too, was about, well, a regular joe. Sort of. Maybe. Did you know he was edited out of the Michael Moore doc? I don't believe that was ever in the Times. Anyway, I guess this story shows that we care most about those we may identify with. But, again, I have no doubt that the video links scattered across the Internet didn't beat the Times on hits for this story.
"How the White House Embraced Disputed Arms Intelligence" By David Barstow, William J. Broad and Jeff Gerth was number seven. This wasn't exactly news by October of 2004, most of us read it elsewhere on the Internet in different forms for a few years before you wrote about it, so that's probably why it didn't clock in at number one. Oh. Another reason is that I guess it was proven in England that even though the neocons embraced lies they didn't "sex up" anything and as everyone knows - sex sells - so this wasn't as important as the number one story.
The unofficial October Surprise Story locked up number eight on the charts: "Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished From Site in Iraq" By James Glanz, William J. Broad and David E. Sanger. That's the October Surprise story we believed was most important; the one that ran on television the most was the one that may have originated from somewhere inside Pakistan and that incorporated Michael Moore, as well, and scared the bejeezus out of a lot of them.
Number nine was THE endorsement for Senator John F. Kerry. It didn't come as much of a surprise. Our brat doesn't always toe the line, but it at least knows where to draw it.
Last, but not least, and most in terms of number of lives lost, is a story about the Tsunami which ran on the last day of the year. There's more than a chance, that related stories might fill up more spots on next year's top ten, considering the amount of attention devoted to it nearly everywhere. This is the one story in the top ten that crosses bi-partisan lines and is virtually non-partisan.
So, I think this top ten serves as an equivalent to a DNA test in terms of patrimony issues. We're you're daddy, New York Times. I'm not sure who we went to bed with in order to produce you, since instead of resembling us more you go halfway to the complete opposite most of the time. But that's okay, we're willing to forgive you and pat your head and rub your belly a little bit more often, provided you do a few things for us.
First off, listen to our pleas, we don't like making demands. We don't mind if we have to clean the rugs once in a while, just don't take advantage of our bleeding hearts. Your mother shouldn't always be believed especially when she refuses to be quoted. And if you're going to write what your mother tells you to write, at least give us a word or two in the first paragraph or two, especially if it's on the front page.
(I usually don't link to The New York Times since you have to sign up in order to read their articles, and you can only read a week's worth at a time. Right now, it doesn't cost anything, but they're thinking about charging soon. Since NY Times' articles, whether we like it or not, usually become matters of the public record, they should remain on the public record, free for all to read, no matter how long ago. Are they thinking about charging for their microfilms in public libraries also?)
So, New York Times, since we're your daddy, please ignore the mutterings from your mom about how you always represent our side of the story, because you often don't, and she knows that too; please continue to write about our broken election system the way you do on your editorial pages (more often, too, like you did before November 3rd and not after) and maybe you can even re-assign that Tom Zeller Jr. dude; and, one more thing, let Judith Miller find her own damn lawyers and expose her on your front page like you did to Jayson Blair.
Oh, what's the use? You never listen to us. And no matter what your mommy says, you never really did. We're just a bunch of suckers. We wish we could disown you, but if we let you out of our sight we'd have to bow down to your momma and call her daddy, too.