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Barry Yourgrau Headshot

Why Read The New York Times?

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Just to add a quick note in fairness about state of The New York Times.

Someone (?) described the Wall St Journal as the newspaper whose editorial page doesn't read its own reporting. Meaning the news reporting is sharp and legit, whereas the editorials read like outtakes from Dr. Strangelove: too over the top to make the final cut.

Over the last couple of years the NY Times editorial page has been, in fact, increasingly terrific, first under Gail Collins and now Andrew Rosenthal. They have been calling out Bush and company in hearteningly blistering terms. Adam Cohen writes acutely and deeply on "quaint" legal issues.

I'll leave aside the obvious strengths and weaknesses of the Op-Ed page, just noting that Krugman was one of the earliest to twig that the emperor had no clothes and that his naked flesh stank. Bob Herbert has been great and tough too. Frank Rich keeps hauling the Wizard of Oz out from behind his flapping flags.

A further unsung virtue is the Times' Letters to the Editor, which I find myself reading every day; I urge you to too. They add fresh notes to a lot of what the editorials are saying.

But do the news guys over there read the editorials?

The Times news reporting and news commentary seems to exist in a strange quasi-land where no dots about how the administration operates are ever connected or considered cumulative. So you get reporting as if this was still just one more administration pursuing its agenda as administrations always will. Just the newest form of the old ways of politics.

Except it ain't. Really it ain't. This is a RADICAL administration. Very thoughtful people are using the F-word more and more. Or hinting at it. Whether or not the term exactly applies, the point is: Something pretty damn hairy is going on over here in liberty land. Are reporters--are their editors--up to the challenge of properly reporting it? Gee, lemme think that one over and get back to you....