Monday, June 09, 2003
Whew! Let 'er rip, John!
I will, however, quibble a bit. Yes, what is wrong at the Times is outrageous left-liberal bias. Yes, this is a conscious strategy, and it's wrong to hide the strategy behind a mask of objectivity.
But there's another, less objectionable but no less unsettling way to spin the story of the Times' ambition. It's not that it believes in and tries to achieve some perfect objectivity. It's that it's the voice of the Establishment. And, increasingly, the global Establishment rather than the national or northeast-corridor Establishment.
Now, it's entirely normal for the Establishment to speak as the voice of right-thinking reason and to belittle those who disagree. The Economist has strong, decidedly centrist and Establishment opinions on a host of issues, and there is no question that those opinions are evident throughout the magazine. (Of course, it's a magazine, not a newspaper, but even so the opinions creep in to stories that are not presented as editorial pieces.) Why is there no crusade against the Economist?
The reason, of course, is that the Times is wildly out of step with the opinions of the people of the United States, and therefore its pretence to being the voice of our Establishment means either (a) the Establishment is itself wildly out of step with the people (a dangerous position in a democracy) or (b) the Times is pretending to far greater influence than it has. Either way, the Times's real crime is not that it lies about being objective, but that it lies about being the voice of power.
And this is what drives right-wingers nuts about left-liberals in general, I think. It's not that they have strong opinions. It's not that they have opinions righties find wrong or offensive or evil. It's not that they act superior or dismissive. It's not the assertion of rightness. It's the assertion of power, the assertion not that they ought to be in charge but that they are in charge.
And they aren't, you know.