May
30
2009

NYT Likes Its Readers Complacent

Looking at "people of a certain age" for whom "getting a letter published in the Times has always been a very, very big deal," David Margolick (Nation , 5/27/09) tells the tale of two lifelong friends and constant New York Times letter submitters–one with a "Babe Ruth"-like record of getting his views into print, and the other, who was always "striking out." Want to know "what explained their very different fates?" Margolick tells us, "it wasn't politics":

[George] Avakian couldn't contain his anger, and as anyone who reads the Times well knows, on the letters page no one ever gets too worked up about anything. Friends to whom he would sometimes send drafts forever urged him to tone things down. But try as he might–which, truth be told, wasn't very hard–catharsis always won out over pragmatism. It started at the very outset of the Bush II era. "How many words have been written about the mess in Florida? 4 million, 400 million? 4 billion?" he wrote during the fiasco following the presidential election of 2000. "There are only four words which properly sum up the whole situation. They are: The fix is in.'" Of course, it got spiked.

And "in another letter, from July 2007, he called Bush 'the most flagrant liar in the history of the American Presidency.' Ditto." But that one stood little chance from the start, considering the Times attitude toward such candid language about George W. Bush specifically. See the FAIR magazine Extra!: "'You Can't Just Say the President Is Lying': The Limits of Honesty in the Mainstream Press" (1â┚¬“2/05)