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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  February 27, 2011 7:15pm-8:59pm EST

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>> by speaking out. this event this last year has given me a chance to have a greater voice of things i've cared about my whole life. and first officer jeffrey is also doing that. and in terms of trying to do our best to fix system, we are not done yet. >> sully sullenberger, "highest duty" is the name of his book. thank you, sir. >> thank you very much. good to be with you.
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coming up next on book tv, william mcgowan says the "the new york times" has adopted a liberal ideological agenda under the tenure of current publisher arthur sulzberger, jr.. he says the newspaper has tarnished its reputation as a trusted news source. william mcgowan presents his arguments in a debate with michael tomasky, american editor-at-large for the "guardian." >> the exciting moment for journalism, people year or two ago were talking about journalism is dead. newspapers were in terrible shape, but we've come to an extraordinary stretch. you probably saw this morning that aol acquired the huntington
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post. what i say, the huntington post? >> most people called the >> last thursday or friday rupert murdoch announced that the daily was going to appear on the ipad, the only daily newspaper. a few months ago the daily beast exhort "newsweek" word was the other way around. and we've seen the situation in which there is now some of original content that occurs only on line. i mentioned to sources, the fiscal times, for those of you that want to follow fiscal issues, and those who want to follow new york issues, the website called the city pragmatist, something exciting has happened. one of those good things that's happened has been the web page of the new york times. it had a very rocky start, and it's really caught its stride in the last 68 months. a lot of good -- a lot of good content. the title of tonight's
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discussion, is "the new york times" good for democracy. a better question would have been, wouldn't have been as provocative, better question would have been on balance is "the new york times" good for democracy. and to that question, we can give yes, but and no, but and a lot of variations in between. but let me introduce the two speakers. mike tomasky is editor of democracy at journal of ideas, quarterly journal based in washington. [applause] deserves applause. he is also the american editor-at-large for the british "guardian," where he writes a blog elbe. it's too complicated for me. i have it your marked. he's also a frequent contributor to the new york review of books. he was the editor of the american prospect from 2003 to 2006. before that, he was a columnist at new york magazine, author of
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two books, hilary's term and left for dead. and his work has appeared in numerous other publications in "the new york times," "washington post," harper's, the nation and the new republic. and i should say both of these gentlemen are high and journalists who have had wide-ranging experience. bill mcgowan is the author of only man is by all the tragedy of sri lanka, which won a prestigious award, which i unfortunately neglected to note, and coloring the news, how political correctness has corrupted american journalism for which he won a national press club award in 2002. the former editor of the washington monthly he's reporter for newsweek, the bbc, "new york times" magazine, "the washington post," the new republic, the columbia journalism review and a variety of other publications on and off line. a regular contributor of book reviews and essays to "the wall
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street journal" he's been a commentator on fox news, cnn, msnbc and npr. the former senior fellow at the manhattan institute he's been a media fellow at the philosophy and policy center and lives in new york city, which is why he was almost late today. [applause] or format is simple. michael gophers, excuse me, bill will go first. they discussed this between them. bill will go first. part of his presentation is based on his new book, "gray lady down" about the new york times. he will go first for 20 minutes and michael respond for 20 minutes. we will have 15 minutes of rebuttal, and then we will open the floor to you. just one suggestion, more than a suggestion, strong request. when you ask a question, make it a question. no speeches. identify yourself, who you are, are you with an organization in particular, do you want to be identified with them and then
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ask a poignant question. let's begin. >> i would first like to say thank you who to fred for organizing this and to frank for lending us this lovely space. it's nice to be backed in the borough of my birth, the borough of my parents were, and it's nice to see my brother who lives here as well. he's a retired police sergeant and a graduate of st. francis. it's nice to see michael, who i knew someone in the 90's, and so let's get going. i think the best way to start -- i would like to take you all back on a little truth in time. we are headed back to the year 1972. it was a somewhat analogous period to today. the u.s. was involved in a divisive and somewhat disappointing military intervention overseas, and there was a polarizing culture or i get home, read state versus blue state it was hippie's versus
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hard hats or hard hats versus hippies. and into that stepped william f. buckley's "national review," the very bible of conservatism. and the timber, 1972, "national review" published an article about the times with the headline "is it true what they say about the times"? it was co-written by patrick means, who won a former reporter the new york world telegram, the author of the assistant of the "national review." at that time spiro agnew was reeling against the elite is the establishment press and the nattering nabobs of negativism incidently a phrase written by william safire who soon thereafter went to work for the times as there and has the conservative columnist. richard nixon was livid over the times publication of the pentagon papers and conservatives everywhere, some democrats, too, were upset by the looming endorsement the looming times endorsement of george mcgovern. the focus of the "national review" article the churches the
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left-leaning bias. conservatives have long dismissed the times as a hotbed of liberalism, by guest beyond redemption, the "national review" asked to what extent is this impression softly based? it essentially examined five issues that they said fell along the left right cleft. they were senator james 1970 run for his senate seat. the anti-ballistic missile treaty and food of 1969 failed supreme court nomination of of what federal appellate court judge clement caines worse and president nixon's decision to mind the harbors of with vietnam. the "national review" concluded, surprisingly, that with a new standards of the times more broadly emulated, particularly by news magazines and broadcast networks, the nation would be far better informed and more honorably served. now this was clearly a tribute
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to the journalism practiced and upheld by a the rosenthal who was then executive editor of the new york times. he was executive editor from 1969 to 1986. he was a journalism based on professional detachment as much as possible. in partiality, agnosticism. rosenthal was determined to keep the paper street. he once told joe louisville that it was important to keep the firm right hand on the tiller because the news room would naturally drift to the left. he believed that there should be no editorial needles in which reporters use their personal political opinions to go after anybody. he believed that there should be no pejorative quotes that were either not attributed or made somebody look bad that workfare. rosenthal was very patriotic and was extremely weary of the counterculture. and he was also very weary of conflicts of interest among his reporters.
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when he found out that the woman he had hired had once had an affair with a politician in philadelphia, believes when he had been mayor, he famously five-year her and said, you know, difference to the fact this is a catholic institution. i don't care if my reporters believe the elephants, but if they do, they can't cover the circus. [laughter] so let's fast-forward a bit. it's 2003 in the wake of the jason blair plagiarism scandal, tv comedians are having a field day. david letterman said you know the old slogan of "the new york times" all the news that is fit to print? how will we have a new one, the change it. the new slogan is we make it up. [laughter] in the summer of 2004, daniel who was the paper's first public editor or the readers advocate, an office created in response to the jason blair scandal published a column called headlined as the times liberal
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newspaper. he answered that question in his lead with of course it is. if you think the times please sit down the middle on divisive social issues in reading the paper with your eyes closed. indeed, in october, to those in for just a few months after okren's column, jane of the "national review" echoing many conservatives rode a repudiation of that pro "new york times" 1972 article advocating going timeless. it is is certainly a far cry from the 72 oracle and bulkeley's off stated assertion that dealing with the times would be like going without arms and legs to be there were a lot of other controversial issues in 2005, 2006. there were charges that times was a treasonous organization for publishing scoops on the national security agency's electronic surveillance terrorism suspects both at home
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and abroad. there were demonstrations outside the times that called "the new york times" the al jazeera times. and then in 2010, we have the wikileaks come and particularly it is a dump of the state department diplomatic cables. again, the accusations of treason, announcements, proclamations of possible prosecutions from officials, probably blowing smoke for public consumption. let me say right here idled advocating going timeless in the least. i don't think that times is treasonous although i don't think it's sense of post national patriotism is the same as traditional notions of patriotism, and i think we will get into that a little later. i certainly don't think it should be bombed as ann coulter once thundered.
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i've read the times since i was a kid, and was proud in my career to be published prominently in it. i consider the times and important national resource, albeit in danger and i confess to being one of those new yorkers who referred to it simply as the paper. before the internet, i wandered down to the local newsstand to get the next day's addition if i was out of town and couldn't get it. i would get withdrawal symptoms. but i was a sadly those days, that young man and the new york times are gone. for generations the times was consider the gold standard of american journalism, and the institution was considered central to the public discourse of policy debates at the core of our democracy. and our shared civic life, yet i don't think for this generation the times could be called dwight mcdonald said it was for his generation, which was the principal point of contact with the real world. nor can it be seen i think as it was once put as necessary proof of the world's existence, a
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barometer of its pressure and an excess of its sanity. indeed, some may not care, some may think they are relevant in the hyper choice but i think it's more necessary than ever. largely because much of the new media don't have the resources or the talent and money that the times does or the authority. that might be changing. nor can they provide the common narrative we need as a nation in the natural form of establishing what's true and what's not. these times still might demand the times, but they demand a certainly demand a much better times than we are getting. a lot of people focus on the decline of the times by citing some of the big-ticket scandals and institutional blunders and financial problems. i'd rather focus on the every day reporting. i think to be sure to times still can produce some members of journalism and it can serve democracy quite well.
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it was excellent on the bp oil spill. i think it served democracy quite well by showing some of the diplomatic and strategic blunders of the bush administration in the first couple of years of the iraq intervention. i think it's been pretty good on the plight of ordinary people during this recession. i don't think it's been particularly good on obama's solutions to the recession, but i think it is brought home the suffering and the ordeal that a lot of people are going through. unfortunately, the tide of left liberal politically correct orthodoxy has caused the paper to drift from its traditional role of honest broker of important and political social and information to that of a partisan cheerleader. the editorial page has always followed its own agenda. the problem is the perspectives in the editorial page have split
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into the news report and are spread between the lines of the news reporting. bill keller said the times practices the journalism of verification. i would say that it practices a journalism of values projection. and that by yes deer is really no other word for it has created a journalism at odds with its historical mission of rendering the news in partially without fear or favor. and it's also created journalism at odds with the liberal space values that its long stood for. so even if you do support a more partisan times, and there are those that do believe news organizations should take up in a logical cudgels like they do in europe, britain in particular. but even if you support a more partisan times, and those self identified in the alleged we committed journalists in the room might do so, i think there's still cause for concern because through law of unintended consequences, the liberal values that these india logically committed progressives
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generally stand for are often very ill served for the very paper that embodies them or is said to embody them most ardently. john dewey, the great professor, educators, professor and philosopher, is credited with a defining the vital habits of democracy. these were the ability to file an argument, to grasp the point of view of another, to expand the boundaries of understanding, and to beg the alternative purposes of what might be pursued. yet i don't think the times measures up to this standard. i think it's said of expanding the boundaries of understanding the times has narrowed them. i don't think it gives enough sense of the alternative pursuit. and i think in raising -- instead of raising the tone of public discourse and make it more intellectually sophisticated, the times journalism often oversimplifies it in some cases truly dumb sitdown, blunting the public's faculty for reasoned debate.
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i think that here i'd like to go into a couple of the issues where i think the times faulty journalism and it's an ideological bias these have not enhanced, but in pared our space culture, our space processes and our space policymaking. this material has has been mentioned taken largely from my latest book, "gray lady down." it's the shortest of my three books, but it still weighs in at 260 pages, so by necessity i'm going to have to scam the treetops to meet the time limit. if anybody wants to go into deeper detail in the q&a, please feel free, but i will try to stay out of the weeds so to speak. the issues as briefly as i can our first of all, race and affirmative action, secondly, immigration and diversity, and third will be the war on terror. these are the three issues in the book and i think our best
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presented and they are also the three issues that bear on our space life in the most importantly. if i have time, i will get into the effect of the times journalism on the tone and tenor of our civic culture, which is both the seed of our democracy and its reflection. turning to the recent affirmative action, i read that chapter with a story that joe, the former executive editor of the times, told about being of -- in philadelphia and mississippi in the year 1966, watching as a group of reporters were standing in a circle with some activists holding hands and singing "we shall overcome." he felt it was inappropriate and didn't join in. that sense of professional detachment very much a product of the institutional culture that was drilled into every reporter during the rosenthal years has not endured. today, when it comes to the issue of race, the times is sitting front and center singing
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in the choir and singing with a moral fervor and a gusto. and orthodoxy of racial engagement and diversity now governs the personal policies of the newsroom, but even more so, the political sensitivity behind most of its coverage. i think we see that in stories that involved historical racism, and justice and atrocities of the past. some are newsworthy. things concerning the trial of emmett till, of the retrial of the emmett till murders. of course they are newsworthy. but others seem more racial guilt. and they seem to be, you know, printed in pursuit of emotional reparations. there is a certain script that the times reported on which involves white oppression and black racial victimization. we see that in the reporting on the criminal profiling. it is one of the times hobbyhorses where it will get a hold of some report usually by a
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liberal think-tank and then go to town of three or four times in the space of a couple of weeks and report that there are more black kids being stopped and frisked than white kids in certain neighborhoods. we also have dictum ology in the coverage of the katrina catastrophe in one case there was a major hoax perpetrated on the reporter who used a self-described victim of the katrina catastrophe to present herself as a victim of the bureaucratic inertia that have hurt held up in a fleabag hotel in queens, her health in jeopardy, her having to go to four or five trips to the hospital, her children all living together with her. in fact, she had never been anywhere near katrina when it struck. she said she was from the look-see.
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she didn't even have custody of the kids she said she had come and she never went to the hospital. she was never in the hospital. in fact, she was known for check fraud. she was arrested sorted after the times piece ran coming shortly after that, times standard issued a memo saying to the reporters we will have no more single source stories. the reporter is essentially took her at her word and never checked any of the public records that were available to check. we have the awful story of the duke reva case which stuart taylor, a journalist at the "national review" wrote a wonderful book about and which he called it a feeble evil rich men running amok and abusing poor black women. it was just a story that was too good to be true, dan said. it was too delicious. okren said they should take out a billboard in times square and apologize, but they never did and there was never an editorial
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note to the readers or anything acknowledging just how bad the times reporting had been, how much it slandered the lacrosse players in question, and how much it needed to take account for what it had done. i look at black politicians historical -- i look at their treatment of malcolm x. in 1965, when he was assassinated, the times said he was an extraordinary but twisted man turning many gifts to evil purposes. they also decreed his ruthless and fanatical belief in violence. but in 2004, in relation to a harlem exhibition that referred to malcolm x as a civil rights john and. and then there's al sharpton. al sharpton has more lives than a cat when you think of just what kind of racial or some and agitation this man is
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responsible for to want to bowl the rights and the crown heights, and i think one of the worst was his role in the massacre at freddie's markets on 125th street in harlem, where eight people were killed. was that the case? seven or eight people were killed. sharpton had gotten on the radio and said we will not stand by and allow them, meaning white landlords, in fact the landlords are black, will not allow them to move this brother said that some white man can expand his business on 125th street. one very bright commentator, i think one of the sharpest pencils in the box, wrote one time that the memory hole to which freddie's disappeared fits the pattern of mr. sharpton's political career. after each major outrage, sharp controls on the press and selected i think he's referring to the times assures them that
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this time he's really reformed. the first new sharpton complete with foreign profiles in "the new york times" magazine and the new yorker came after the hoax. i would mention that after freddie's massacre there was a story in "the new york times" i remember very vividly with the headline "sharpton boeing and in a storm." we have jesse jackson's love child, the double standards there are pretty vivid. i think if ralph reed father a child out of wedlock and used his organization's funds to support her, that would probably be a banner on the front page of the paper. instead, jesse jackson's similar transgression and actions were on page 27 in a single column.
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obama, the times is in bed with him since the beginning. they delayed for an entire year stories about his relationship with the reverend jeremiah wright, that they should have gone into the rushing into it. abc news got a video of him and was only after that that judy cantor, a chicago reporter started writing what she should have been writing from the get go about what wright was all about. it also allowed obama to get away with minimizing his relationship to the former whether terrorist, former member of the weathermen, bill ayers. david axelrod said he was just somebody knew from the neighborhood. his kids go to school together. in fact they had a relationship over ten years and several different venues that a couple of the foundations. they were closer. i would like to switch now to immigration and just look at just how much immigration has
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been seen as a fait accompli. nathan glazer in 1993 in the new republic said it seems when you look at mass immigration we have in sensibly refer to it to a policy of mass immigration without ever making the decision to do so. i don't have this in the book, but i did do a paper on at about the 1965 immigration reform act, which essentially lifted the realistic national origins quote as at that time, both the democratic party, which backed it, and the times which took its cues, from them said it would not swell the role of immigrants with the third world -- wouldn't change the demographic character of a country, nor would there be millions of people lining up. in fact, both have happened. whether the demographic changes good or bad makes no difference to me. what is important is that this was a huge pivotal period --
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pivotal moment in immigration history and the times was completely at a loss to understand it. since then, the times has followed a very pro immigration script. this goes particularly in areas like alien criminality. there was one case where the el salvadorean gang ms 13 actually send an assassin of to new york to try to get an i.c.e. agent who was very good at picking up some of the rings on long island. they got the guy before he was able to go after him, but the times never did the story. one of my immigration activist friends in washington said what's it going to take to get them to pay attention? does it need the beheading of a federal judge? there's another way they've treated immigration somewhat quickly and without the gravity
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that they really should. the issue of sanctuary cities, which came up in the 2008 republican presidential primary easily cities being places where immigrants are allowed to live without having worried about the documents being checked for any kind of ramifications from crimes committed that aren't serious felonies. gail collins said century cities was just a right-wing buzzword for freaking out right state voters. she said it had a sci-fi ring. she sat next time you hear a political ranting about a century city say is that rarity on new reeves was trying to get to in the matrix? the times has been extremely, if not absolutely silent on a dual citizenship -- just give me a minute -- on dual citizenship. these are issues we're facing now with 93 different countries
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facing that. dual citizenship leading to the dual loyalty. it's been extremely soft on the islamic immigration. it won't go anywhere near issues of the different customs and values and attitudes that are i think are profoundly space including the issue of women involving female genital mutilation, involving polygamy, and most importantly, the issue of honor killings, which is an issue around the country which you wouldn't know of from the times. and i would also get to the idea that the times has been very soft on the of the local nature of islam in terms of the imams that the featured. the featured al-aulaqi right after 9/11 as a moderate voice. of course even the authorities at the time knew that ncta go he may have even harder to of the terrorists and several of the terrorists may have been praying
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at his mosque in brooklyn. this becomes a major jihad the propagandist and is on the u.s. hit list. i say that when it comes to immigration reform, the times justin folks demagoguery. when people called in to capitol hill against the immigration vote, the columnists called it that they were just robots doing with the party leaders had told them to do. and then they invoked the nativism canard that it's just what part of our history. on the war montara i will just close by saying that soft on islam approach when it comes to immigration is projected into the war on terror. the war on the terror has seen the joost tools to fight the war on terror is seen as more dangerous to american space life than the threat that islamic
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jihadis represent. like this comes from a set of ideas about the nature of islam. it doesn't want to admit it. i think the europeans probably could teach us a lesson on that. there's too much likening of the crackdown on muslim suspects and those who might give them supper, to the palmer raids which took place and the internment of the japanese. these are completely different historical occurrences. but the times tends to lump them all together. in summation, i would say -- i would like to get into some of why can't get into right now in the rebuttal, but i just want to pose a question. one of thomas jefferson's most famous quips was that he would rather live in a nation without a government than a nation without newspapers.
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and i wonder if he was reading the times right now whether he would say the same thing. thank you very much. [applause] >> okay. yes, well, in a slightly odd position here i think because i don't work for "the new york times," not a spokesman for "the new york times." as a matter of fact, paid by the newspaper that is arguably, no, probably in terms of world audience and looking to the future with web overtaking print as it will someday come i work for the paper that is probably the times' greatest english language world competitor, so yeah, maybe i should denounce the times and read "the guardian." so, not a spokesman for the
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paper. i have my criticisms of it. we will get into some of those. and i think bill makes some fair and criticisms in the book, which i read, and you know, the times has certainly made its share of errors in recent years. i think the, you know, the duke lacrosse coverage was bad. i don't think there's any question about that. i actually -- this is an interesting point, too -- i don't know many people outside of "the new york times," which defends it institutionally, but i don't know many liberals who continue to defend that particular coverage. i think the times, as bill mentioned a story that the times did about john mccain during the campaign, some of you may remember a story about a relationship he had a friendship he had with a female lobbyist, wink, wink, implying the things you think were being implied.
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i heard the rumors, sure you heard the rumors in advance of the story being published about times did have and didn't have and so on and so forth. there's no question in my mind that based on what ended up on the page they should not have gone with that story. it didn't seem like a very good judgment to put it politely. so, certainly they've made some mistakes. the jason blair episode, obviously. i think there's probably something in general to bill's sense of the papers natural institutional by aziz. i want to be careful here about how life raise this. and i think one of the reasons i was asked to do this -- and by the way, thank you, fred, for asking me, and frank, it's nice to see you, and thanks to the st. francis college. but life and one of the reasons that i was asked to do this, is
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why when certainly a liberal, there's no question about that. if you read my stuff, you know i'm liberal. but democratic to some extent of liberalism as well. over the years i have been critical to some extent of the multiculturalism. politics on the left, that was my first book -- here it is, i will just show it. it's an old book now. actually i don't really agree with 100% of it anymore. >> i played a role in helping him shake his ideas. >> i'm sure he's been to quote against me in his rebuttal. that's fine. but i have been somewhat critical of multiculturalism from a liberal perspective. that perspective being enough shelf to the to -- and a nutshell when we emphasize differences to such an extent we can forget about the things we have in common and we can lose the sense of a common society. and which we fight for and argue
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for a common good, and i've become in things i've written not just in that book but since in the american prospect i have become kind of associated with that view and i've been attacked quite partially by some on the left to disagree with my views. so i think that's one of the reasons that i'm here. but i will say that i do disagree with bill about the imperative of diversity and of large institutions dealing with diversity and trying to come to terms with in this united states, in this city. it is after all the new york times. it's not, you know, the kansas times. bill harkens back to what he calls the golden age of "the new york times," and there is no question that the rosenthal era
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was a good one for the paper and one in which the paper has much to be proud of and there's much to respect. but i'm inherently suspicious of the golden ages. upon inspection they were not always that golden. they were not cooled and for everybody. and i don't want to sound like a politically correct hectoring uncle, but some of these things are just true, folks, some of these things are just true. in the great glory days that bill invokes, the fact is that if you walk around "the new york times" newsroom in those days in 1967 or something, it was 98% men and 98% white. now, all right, that's how it was. but that wasn't appropriate for the world as it changed as it
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progressed. it just wasn't appropriate. i don't think anybody can seriously defend that now. the times had to embrace diversity. it had to embrace the idea that it needed to hire more women, more african-americans, latinos and so on. it had to do this. now, the young sulzberger -- the younger sulzberger emphasized this above pretty much every other value. maybe that was over emphasis. maybe he was a little bit too much of is a look about, maybe other values and other standards should have gotten more attention from him. i don't know. but on balance, he was certainly want to emphasize this. especially as i said before, in
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this city, as multi hued and as diverse as the city is, the time had to make this change, and i can tell you many of you here in this audience will remember that the metropolitan section of times, for example come back in the 1960's and 70's, it didn't recover, it didn't even bother to cover the black communities and the latino community is very much at all. and this had to change. and it changed. and the change has come with some down sides. all change comes with some down sides. nothing in this world is all good or all bad. and there have been some excesses' and some mistakes the paper has made, but they have had to make this change. and on balance, it's far better, far better that they make an attempt to cover these communities, not only here, but
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nationally. i don't believe, you know, you read bill's book and there is example after the example after example after the sample, and there's like 200 examples in the book of allegedly egregious things that peter has done, and you might at first blush put this book down, finish it and close it and think my god, what jeremiah, with a list of horrible sins. okay, step back and think for the second he's talking about 200 stories come something like that come over period of 20 years. 20 years during which the newspaper has probably produced 365 additions, probably 50 bylined story sunday tv today and what's that come 18,000 stories a year, 360,000 stores. okay, subtract the business section and some of these other things, but, you know, i don't think that the kaiyay bill
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produces is as big of an indictment as he suggests that it is. the times's reflecting changes and arguments and tensions in society that not only the times is traveling with, but many institutions are grappling with, and are grappling with, you know, with tremendous difficulty the country has changed, the culture has changed, and i think a lot of this change has been for the good, and i think most people think that most of this change has been for the good. there are people who think that most of this change has not been for the good. you have a section in the book, bill, where you're discussing the times' coverage of gays and you criticize or seem to criticize a story or a series of stories about a gay adoption.
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i'm asking this rhetorically, you don't actually have to answer this, but i don't think you're actually on the side of saying that the people aren't equipped to be good parents or don't have the right to be good parents, but it kind of seemed like you were saying that in the book. well, that's a judgment that how should a newspaper, how should an objective news column handle that issue? should it give equal weight to both sides of that argument? i think that's a close call. i don't think -- i don't think it's absolutely clear that you should give equal weight to both sides of the argument. was the time is supposed to give equal weight to bill konar in 1964? well, i don't know, you know, i'm not sure that that's -- i'm
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not sure that's the rule a newspaper has a civic role to play. .. >> probably was that. in those days, "the times" occupied a much, much larger space in the journalistic and civic universe than it occupies today. this is another point i'd make that isn't necessarily a direct
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rebuttal of bill, but a point that's important to keep in mind as we have any discussion about the media and the united states today. there's no more oracle in our media culture. that's long gone. it's disbursed, the power and the influence is spread around. fred said "huffington post" worth $310 million. "the daily beast" bought "newsweek" not the other way around. a two-year old web site. there's no more walter cronkite that would say in '68 that he looked at vietnam and decided it was unwinnable, and within two weeks public opinion went from 60%, 64 or 65 percent in support of the war, to about 40% in
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support of the war. because of one man. 25%. i've looked at the gallop number. it's very stark. it's also around the time of ted. but i think we can credit cronkite more than not. there's -- there's no more media culture like that. so in a sense, "the times" -- i wouldn't say one among many equals, because i think it's still obviously the leading newspaper in the united states. but it has to share a lot more -- it has to share the atmosphere, the oxygen with a lot more outlets than it ever used. and to oxygen is much more contested now, and the whole media landscape is much more embattled now. there was no such thing as a media critic in abe rosenthal's
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age, most of his age editing the paper. media criticked started to pop up in the mid to late '70s, times get attacked from the left and right. it gets nailed by everybody, all of its mistakes are exposed immediately. i think this is another important change. i don't assume that "the times" did not make mistakes in the 1950s and '60s, i excuse me rather they weren't exposed by endless number of bloggers and media critics, another point about the so-called golden age. speaking of criticisms of "the times" from the left, i can promise you that one could write a book. people have written books like bill's that take from the liberal side with just as much pusher and citing examples.
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the liberal critics of al reigns, which i was one. he quotes me accurately as having criticized hal reigns editorial page. his editorial page in the clinton years was an important example. this was not "the times" being partisan. liberals were furious. he was on a personal jihad against bill clinton and ran, i did account once, now i'm not remembering it. i wrote a piece in "the nation" about 1999 or 2000. i think late 1999, you can look it up if you want to. but far, far, far more editorials criticized bill clinton than ken starr and his tactics. the paper broke the white water
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story. yeah, i'll finish up in a couple of minutes. the paper broke the white water story, it kept on clinton pretty hard. throughout his time in office. the paper more recently it broke the elliot spitzer story, there's a democrat they didn't go soft on. david paterson is another one. i can cite a lot more examples than that. also, on the subject of the war, it's a much more pungent criticism in my mind that "the times" like most american newspapers and news outlets published far more stories basically taking the administration's line through background quotes like the famous judy miller stories, but there were many, many more than it man critical of the administration's arguments for
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war against iraq. bill cites this too to his credit, a piece by michael massey. there are many, many criticisms to be made from the left of the "new york times". what does it all add up to? bill keller would say, i guess, and not without justification, if we are being attacked like this from both sides, maybe that tells us that we are -- if we are pissing off both sides, maybe we are doing something right. i'll conclude by saying, i still think on balance, whatever it was errors, it's an excellent, excellent newspaper. has anybody in the room quit reading "the times" on principal? okay. all right. we've got -- let the record show out of 80 people here, we got about eight hands. all right. well, that's something. but by and large, i don't think
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anybody quit reading "the times" after jason blair, i don't think anybody quit reading it after very many of these things. it's still a great paper. if you are trying to keep up with what's going on in cairo and not reading "the times," you are missing something. their coverage is great. yes? it is excellent, very good for democracy. [applause] >> thanks, mike. [applause] [applause] >> a few minutes, 10-15 minutes now, you know, exchange rebuttal and sir rebuttal. >> yeah, i'd like to ask michael one questions that involved the issue of double standards at "the times." michael once famously wrote an american prospect blog piece headline of which "keller must go" and also suggested that
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arthur sulzberger jr., who i did not call pinch, the man should earn his own, his took his from his father, punch. i'd like to know having done that how you've gotten both of your books reviewed, you were the subject of a very glowing profile in 2006 about young liberals sort of fighting back. meanwhile, i've been blacked without twice in both of my books. the first time the editor of the the book review of the adult enough to actually go on to the record to the "san francisco chronicle" and say the reason that we are not going to review i'm not sure it's proper to review a book that's so critical
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about a newspaper like that. the second time i was promised a review and the editor revoked the policy squabble he's having with his publisher just to avoid the headaches with his boss. i think we'd have to say that in terms of ideological double standards, and i go into the book in terms of the politics "times," book review and media the time is on left liberal journalist and media and authors, and it either ignored or insults those comes from the right. i don't particularly think i'm coming from the right in my criticism of "the times." i think it's good journalism. maybe there's 200 stories that i pick out. there was a charge that i went through last time with coloring the news, i was cherry picking. one the reasons why i decided to pile up example upon example was
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that i wanted to show that they were representative. i did not do a quantitative study that would determine the representation, but i think people got the drift. that when you pile these up more and more, that this is the norm rather than the exception. as to this point that "the times" was at one point during the golden age all male and all white, it's probably true. i agree there are always problems in nostalgiaizing. i don't know who said it, it was the rust. was it shakespeare? >> yes. >> thank you, google.
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with that said, i think michael misses my point on the point of diversity. as long as it's within the law. what i'm critical about diversity, two things, and fred used the phrase one. mandated diversity, where the state comes in and says you have to have a certain quota or number. i'm more concerned with diversity as an ideological policy where it bleeds out into the news coverage. where it translates into a kind of solicitude towards minorities where it translates into a kind of demographic triumphism, where it translates into endorsing the politics of proportionallism. where it translates into vilifying those who are trying
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to roll back, such as ward connorly in california, 200? 209. connorly was the subject of an extremely insulting and demeaning magazine story, the gist of which he wasn't black enough. he was a self-hating black, and that's why i was leading the effort to roll back affirmative action in california. horrible, horrible story. the effort to raise standards, at quinney in 1997 was interpreted by bob herbert, a columnist at the time, was felt at ethnic cleansing. it was felt that minorities wouldn't be able to qualify if standards were put in place that would make them have to attend
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either remedial classes or community colleges first. so that's my truck with diversity. the other truck that i have with diversity is, and i think as a progressive, michael should be concerned about this is the idea of community is very much a progressive value. it's also a conservative value as well. it cuts both ways. the humanitarian movement in america does not have a red state, blue state divide. it has pat buchanan, and it has salinsky's successor. it's interesting that robert putnam that wrote "bowls -- bowling alone" about social isolation has been working on a number of years about the impact of diversity on civic engagement
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and democratic participation. he did not like the results that he got. essentially, he said that it -- it places with the most diversity in america were those with the lowest level of social trust, the lowest levels of social engagement. people tended to hunker down and basically became couch potatoes. they didn't go out and go to the local cake sale or join the rotarian -- rotary or the knights of columbia or what have you. people hunker down, and yet "the times" promotes diversity as a breed, not just as a policy, but demographic. we have charles blow who is saying to the tea parties, you want your country back, but you
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are not going to get it. welcome to america, the remix. i think it's that demographic triumphism, and that diversity and the cult of ethnicity that is not only bad for our democratic life, but it's bad for progressivism itself and i could enumerate that and i hope to write about this more. many progressives today are actually regressive progressives. particularly when it comes to customs and practices dealing with islam. i'd like to say that another thing just about the gay adoption, because i think it borders a little bit on a canard. i'm all for gay marriage. i grew up across the street from a gay couple. george and jim. at that time, they had a woman living with them who turned out to be a bag lady they brought up
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in suburban westchester for cover. our kindergarten teachers in the town that i grew up on the hudson both turned out to be gay. as soon as they retired, they ran up their rainbow, jolly roger flag and nobody seemed to care. gay adoption, gay parenting, i don't think the research is in firm enough yet. that's not to say i think kids should spend time in foster care or go without pointing. but the point -- i think michael should read the section closer, the point is the research is not as complete as it needs to be and the stories that have been written about gay parenting and gay adoption are just -- two magazine stories that were impossible to get through. they reflected the confusion that the issue generates itself.
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so anyway, that's what i have to say for now. >> are we trying to finish this whole event by eight? >> six or seven minutes? >> oh, i should answer your question first. actually, they didn't review my first book. >> oh. >> so, you know, there's exhibit a. out the window. >> but you called for keller -- >> well, i did do that, yeah. i can't even member why that was. i think it was because they sat on the story. they sat on the nsa story for a year. well, what can i say, i did it. they did review my second book, but reviewed it kind of unfavorably. you know, you maybe lucky. as for the profile, the fawning profile, it wasn't really a profile -- well, yeah -- well, okay. it was a side bar. but i'll tell you -- >> it had your picture in it.
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>> it had my picture in it, that's true. it did have my picture. i had less gray hair. i just saw that picture recently. but look i wrote an essay in the american prospects, i was talking in my first remarks about this concept of the common good. i wrote this essay in the american prospect. i don't know why they decided to do this. you know, i guess, you know, i maybe have a hypothesis. you don't know for a fact, you maybe right. but they wrote a piece that talked about what influence my essay was having in washington. in fact, that was true. i don't want to sound immodest. what i wrote was being talked about a lot. they wrote a piece and a side bar. they did run a picture. it's true. my record with books isn't very good. what do i want to say? >> you are up. [laughter] >> i think -- just to talk a
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little bit more about the problem of diversity. i see the distinction between, you know, newsroom diversity as a policy and diversity as an ideological whatever you said. ideological, you know, point of -- yeah, drama. i do see that distinction. i guess, you know, sometimes "the times" lapses into a bad direction on that point. but we are in -- you know, we are in a period in this country's history. we are having deeply, deeply contested battles on every front. not just in the pages of "the new york times," but everywhere about diversity as a value. and it does to some extent -- it
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doesn't leave much room for nuance. i'm one who have tried to do nuance on the question over the last 15 years or so. hasn't always worked out, you know, the way i would have liked it to work out. we're in a historical period that we are fighting this question tooth and nail every day. i do think that some of the reaction to the obama presidency has to with these kinds of questions, now i'm not going to throw javelins of accusation at tea party people about race. i'm not going to do that. but i do think there's the question that there are representations of two americas. and they are intensity at odds with each other. this is not all americans, by the way. 30% of americans on this side, and 30% of americans on this side, and the other 40% of
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americans are somewhere in the middle and sort of agree with both sides here and there. actually, i think those 40% tend to agree more with the progressive side than the conservative side. otherwise "the new york times" would be losing circulation like this. there would be a vale judgment that "the new york times" was failing the country. i don't think that judgment has been made by the citizens of this country. i don't think it's made by the media consumers of this country. "the new york times" is in stock and difficult position and they built the building. but they are still selling 1 million whatever copies a day. they are selling a lot more copies than the "washington times" which is maybe the right-wing equivalent if "the new york times" is everything that bill says it is, then it's opposite number is the paper in "the washington times" which some of you may not know exists. it was started by reverend moon
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30 years ago. it exists because he's willing to lose whatever he loses on it, $30 million a year. it's an astonish amount of money. they have never gotten their circulation into above 100,000, let alone 1 million. so conservatives like to let the free market test decides things. the free market is deciding. "the new york times" is a success, "the washington times" is not. it's written by an extremely wealthy man. >> we need to end it. >> fine. fine. that's my conclusion. >> there are mics. students from st. francis will come around. if you want to talk, move into the aisle, and just tell us who you are, what organization you are connected to, and ask a brief question.
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michael -- stand up. >> i'm michael myers, i'm the executive director of the new york civil rights coalition. i want to ask michael tomasky a question of diversity. i don't think he got it. i don't think he got the point. the point is you can hire minorities, hire people that are nonwhites, for the standards, ethical standards of journalism, so that the complaint about jason blair was not that he was high because he was plaque. although he may have been hired because he was black. the editors let their standards down and didn't edit and treat him as they would treat anybody else as a journalist because he was black. and secondly, report to the diversity in the newsroom as bill was talking about in terms of coverage, you don't cover people you know.
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a lot of new reporters, particularly the black reporters, have -- i'm asking the question, particular black reporters have been hired with points of view about race, about community? and they cover -- blacks cover blacks, blacks cover civil rights, and omit people that don't agree with them. >> let's gather a few questions and then turn the questions over to -- yes, you are, sir. >> okay. michael white. noticing new york. my question is about cognitive distance. is "the times" for whatever it is, whenever it is, ernest and philosophically consistent, or making decisions about it's survival and benefit? and the example i'll give you on this, i pay a lot of attention to real estate development and
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associated politics. and if i go back in time, and look at the coverage of eminent domain of these issues, or for instance, the columbus circle, and i compare it to their coverage which i think is a big story, atlanta yards, which has to do with the real estate partner which takes place after they engaged in buying a building with eminent domain for their new headquarters. i don't see consistency. >> can i take that question? >> okay. you want to answer both of these now? >> yes. >> you are getting into some of the contradictions, and some would say hypocrisy of the values that "the times" preached on the editorial and the behavior with the corporate entity with a bottom line and wall street profile.
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some of it -- another -- aside from that use of eminent domain to create space for it's new headquarters, an issue such as executive over compensation, "the times" has railed and railed about that in the paper. inevitably, on it's editorial page. and inevitably reports surface in the news report about it. however, even though corporate governance is one of arthur sulzberger jr. hobby horses, "the times" executive are way over compensated. as a matter of fact, there has been movements on the board to suggest that they give their bonuses back and they have. so that's one thing. opening up this question to this larger issue of "the times" finances. michael, you are wrong, "the times" is not read by 1 million
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people a day anymore. circulation just fell this quarter 7.3%, bringing it down below a million for the first time since the mid '80s. and in terms of the market test of whether "the times" is successful or not, i do not think that "the washington times" is the correct comparison. i think the correct comparison is "the wall street journal" which outstrips sales and circulation of the "times" on a national basis. michael goodwin of the "new york new york post" told me recently "the times" is read by 200,000 people in new york. that staggered me. since the golden age, towards the end of that golden age, they
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were faced with huge financial difficulties. white flight and municipal problems of the city, were causing an -- in conjunction with the new literacy where you had community graduates who didn't have a gene and didn't read "the times" anymore. >> you are too kind. i haven't spent my life in academia. >> but they were market testing, they were running focus groups, a lot -- i believe a lot of their -- i mean they have two sections, thursday and sunday style. they are expanding their soft new, lifestyle news, a lot of their gay coverage is driven by demographics by marketing. so, yes, i think so financial concerns do -- although they
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wouldn't like to admit it, they have to. financial concerns determine what they cover and how they write about it. >> mike? >> sure. point taken about "the wall street journal." the reason that i mentioned "the washington times" if they shot through the columns with subjecttivity and bias, i don't think that's the "wall street journal" yet, just the editorial. so in that times "the washington times" is described to the "the new york times" that you describe. michael myers, i take your point. i'm only talking about your second point. i'm ignoring your first point. look, maybe black reporters have a point of view about a black neighborhood. maybe that's true. white reporters do too. white reporters always did. now this gets to one the core questions about the whole
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history of diversity and multiculturalism in this country. it's very key to the whole debate. was the old prediversety point of view in america, at american institutions, was it some default purely objective point of view that was civic with the capitol c and completely free of any kind of bias at all, or just the point of the view of the men that happened to run that thing back then? and it -- you know, and it had it's own biases and it's own subjectivities. this is a very important question that is very much debated. i'll stop there. >> frank. when i was doing my graduate work, i extensively used "the
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new york times," my dissertation was on city/state relations and "the new york times" coverage over a period of 50 or 60 years was terrific on the subject. now i want to address you about today. and i'm talking from the stand point of my piece of diversity. i'm italian-american, and i'm roman catholic, and i take both of those things very seriously. i'm wondering as a reader of the "new york times" whether you think that i can trust the integrity and honesty of the newspaper when it covers subjects such as those relating to my ethnicity and my religion.
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reporting on those in a fair and accurate and trustworthy way. [inaudible conversations] [laughter] >> jeez. what would you think if i said, yes, frank? >> i would think you are not catholic and not italian. >> i'm actually half italian. but it is true that i'm not catholic. but i am part italian. look i don't know. i don't read every word of their coverage of those issues. you know, i know assumed to come extent you are talking about the problems with the catholic church and the child abuse things. i can't speak, okay, i won't speak to the particular of "the times" coverage of that issue. it's not fresh enough in my mind. but bill can do that, i'm sure. but i would just make the point
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that, you know, those things apparently did happen. there are certain realities in the world that "the new york times" didn't create. you know, we did go into iraq on the basis that we were going to find weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist. "the new york times" didn't create that reality, the catholic church is having the problems. "the new york times" didn't create that reality. >> i'm not italian, but i am catholic. i grew up with a lot of italians, and i am dating one. [laughter] >> so i'll have to pass on the italian thing. i do think though that in terms of the diversity calculus inside the newsroom, "the times" has not followed through on that. it doesn't have it's representative italian reporters and editors in the same way it has it's representative african-american or latino. it's not part of the mix, i
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think they lumped the ethnics into one big mass. on the catholic thing, i will say i won't go as far as phil donahue and say that phil donahue is the president or chairman -- executive director of the catholic league who thinks "the times" is deeply bigoted newspaper against catholics. i won't go as far as archbishop dolan in in saying that. i will say it's distant from the realities. right after i published coloring the news, second wave of the church scandal broke. i was on radio being asked questioning about this. having gone to catholic schools, including a good catholic high
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school, and then archbishop and now cardinal, having diocese, and priest, some of them who were brought up on charges or however you want to put it knowing some of my school mates who had bad experiences. some of whom actually sued. that the narrative that was carried "the times" was much different than my own personal experience. donahue puts it rather bluntly when he says the catholic church doesn't vs a pedophilia problem, it has a homosexual problem. first of all, the use of pedophilia to describe the scandal was inaccurate. most of the victims up to 90% were post puberty, which qualified as pederasty, i
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believe. [inaudible conversations] >> thank you. you are always good for the zingers, henry. i think the use of the pedophilia, i had been an argument with bill riley, he was rough and didn't have much patients. it made the priests who were abusing the power to be baby molesters as opposed to people who were abusing their power and influence over these kids who were postpubescent, 14 and 15. in one case, he claimed his molestation started when he was 17 and continued until he was a
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junior at holy cross. and i remember the first day going to my high school where in assembly they said, look, you are 14. 9th grade freshman year, you are men now, you are responsible got choices and the decisions that you make. now that's the generational perspective that's changed much. and maybe it was a spokes rain, what i'm saying is that i think the way "the times" reported that scandal was completely off. and -- >> i want to get a couple more questions in. this gentleman here. >> my name is eric wortman. it's another faucet to the diversity question. i think most of us would agree "the times" is a paper of
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particular social class. i know you might call it the golden age, when i was reading the paper in the 1970s and i was seeing the ads for boring schools and summer camps, i knew that wasn't quite where i was at in reality. and i think the question that i have is a question, statement, i want your response, i feel that "the times" approached two diversity is reflective of the social class. the fact that they've made a [inaudible] out of it is reflective of the social background when you say the newsroom was 98% white. i think there was a reason. most of us, in the room, as you say "the new york times," most of us live with diversity and related to people with a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds. but in "the times" environment
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that's still a bit exotic. and does that affect their approach? >> one more question. then we'll go to the gentleman here. [inaudible conversations] > say it louder. >> put the microphone up to your mouth. >> the question that i ask is how would you talk for more than an hour and not mention the run up to the iraq invasion with the garbage put out by judith miller -- she had editors. >> sir, let me interpret, that's come up repeatedly. you weren't paying attention. >> if i could add something, judy miller's reports did not drive us into iraq. >> or israel or the palestinians, not a word? >> well, it's outside of the
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purview of my book. i mostly focus on domestic issues. >> yes. bring to the mike to the gentleman here please. >> hi, i'm fred, former publisher of publisher weekly. it seems to me that you could list 200 story that is you did like in "the times" as well as the 200 story that is you didn't like. and on balance, you would have a newspaper that makes mistakes and a newspapers that does well. >> well, you can do that and come back a couple of years from now, spent as much time as i did, and let's see what you have. >> well, i have to tell you that i have read "the times" all my life. >> and have you -- >> let me say that having been a publisher of periodical, i take a real interest or i become a
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student of anything that i read. which also includes the wall street journal. wall street journal since murdoch has taken over while i was certainly still remain an excellent paper, it's considerable leakage in what they are covering and now doing and what they used to do. and their golden age is gone as well. the fact that they -- but i don't see what -- as against the grand notion that it is not good for democracy, you have listed what seems to me nitpicking, and having to address that big grand issue about whether "times" is good for democracy or not. what i've heard is like this gentleman here who didn't like their coverage of the catholic church as if -- >> wind up. i want to get a couple more questions in. >> all right.
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i'll wind up. >> i think it's more the nitpicking. >> hold on. let me get a couple more questions and you can answer fred and other people. anyone else want to ask a question? yes, henry. henry is required to ask a question. it's not city charter. [laughter] >> one thing you didn't ask the question which i think is very important and which constitutes rule 18i in our rules, the question is it good for the jews? no one has talked about that. and that's the anti-israel slander of "the times" which attracted attention. >> since we have two nonjews here, i'm sure they will have interesting answers. let me -- we're coming to the end of the evening. why don't i give the gentleman a few minutes to sort of wrap up,
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give us their thoughts, and then we'll let people go home and get dinner. [inaudible conversations] >> go ahead, ed. i'm sorry, i thought you were handing your microphone to other people. >> no. i have two very quickies. >> you are? >> i'm edward hockman, fred accolade. going -- i wish this had been entitled is the times still worth reading? two things, one about philosophy, i asked if they gave up the times in principal. i did because of regarding the tea party and the congressman shot in arizona. it was journalism at it's worst. that's bleeding over, i'm sure reading the editorial page is worth it anymore. secondly, it's regarding
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accuracy. i have a friend, fred's son age who's serving in iraq. and a number of years ago, "the new york times" when the mess was really happening reported there had been an terrible attack which involved his unit. i e-mailed him. he said it never happened. apparently who the times was doing is using runners. they didn't want to leave the safety of baghdad. they got a report. i wish i could believe what they say is going on in cairo, because their editorial panel off of the wall and the fact that i couldn't trust them on other stories, i'm wondering if they are any more worthy of being read than any other paper? >> let's get freddy's question, and al's question, let's -- >> i have a quick question for michael. >> i'm sorry. who are you sir? >> my name is gavin mckinnis. there seems to be a given here
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that all races, genders, sexual preference needs equal distribution at any news source in order to give a solid picture of what the news is. no one has ever said why. it's just an accepted fact. i don't understand why that is. it seemed to me "the new york times" was white male in the '70s and it was more accurate than it is today since we came up with this agenda where everybody has to be equality represented. to me reporting seems like a pursuit. i want to go, look at an event, use the english language to document it, record it properly, who, what, when, where and, and why? why does everyone has to do it equally? all dance hall performers are from the midwest. we should have some single moms in there. >> we got to answer that. >> why don't you take five munns -- minutes to answer his
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question and the two prior one. >> to the issue of nitpicking, if you come back and you could find something, you know, through the same rigorous process of reading several years, more power to you. i don't think you will. as to the question of whether someone's ethnic or racial identity makes them a better reporter on any given subject, i would say there is a question in certain uncertain stories of access. whether the identity and the access translates into better reporting is a different story. i spent two years in sri lanka reporting on the civil war there. i spoke one the local languages. but, you know, i think i did just as well as anybody who
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would have gone there who happened to be of south asia background. i don't think you need to be of a certain ethnicity or race or color. and that i object to. i don't mind giving people a break. i don't mind, you know, giving, you know, the of opportunity that ones -- that anybody deserves. but at the same time, i don't think that we should have beats that are reserved for certain races and, you know, my experience is it doesn't work either. [applause] >> it just creates resentment in the newsroom and bad journalism. >> what do you have to say to ed's question about tucson? >> i have a lot to say about that. i think that it was deeply unfortunate that "the times" led the pack in assuming that it was
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political in nature. paul krugman's blog on january 8th, was it? no the incident happened on january 8th. then january 9th he blogged something to the affect of we don't have proof yet. this was political, but odds are that it was. and there were other journalist who took their cues from that. i'm concerned about the tone of civic and civil discourse in this country. and i think that the tea partyers are probably have more violent rhetoric, but the liberal and progressive side has it's own problem with this. and i can quote you right now, frank rich who, you know, calls americans who wouldn't take on the issue of torture in gitmo
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good germans, and call josh ashcroft the besieger -- best gerbals of them all. who created that because christian right was handing force during the bush administration that, god, we really are in a theocracy. the arizona anti-immigration or anti-illegal law was met by the greenhouse with an image that came out of nazi german. you know, these -- "the times" and the left has a lot to answer for too. maybe this is because of the internet. maybe people get more slashing and want attention.
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but i any that these -- it subtracts from the creditability of these people by using terms like that. >> mike, why don't you take the last word. >> okay. >> yeah, i'm against nazi analogy in most cases, unless you can make a precise analogy that the government did and you are seeing today, okay, it's fair game. calling people rodents, no. they wrote a piece that was very critical of him. you know, i guess i'll just return to the question and did he leave? no. there you are. yeah. you know, i don't anybody says that there have to be equal numbers. i don't think if anybody says there's 42% of the population is
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x, then 42% of the newsroom has to be x. i don't think anybody really says that. but i do think that what people say is that on balance, it's better to make an effort to have this kind of newsroom diversity. and to represent different ideas and points of view. that, you know, i've been on the end of running a magazine and trying to achieve that. you know, it's pretty hard to do. you have to put effort into it. >> effort is hard to do for liberals. >> well, -- >> young lady, would you please keep quiet in the first row. >> yeah, come on. [laughter] >> but it's worth doing. it's hard to get to the question that we're here to answer.
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democracy has to be nutureed by civic right that is we depend on and inform us to do the nurturing. part of that sustenance is providing information in an unbias way as unbias of a way as possible. but inevitably -- inevitably, some value judgments about what kind of society and want to have have to be made. now any newspaper, "the new york times," "the guardian," one the networks or news organization obvious anything like that have to be very careful about balancing those two things.
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but i think it's legitimate to try to balance those two things. i don't think, you know, we want news organizations to be completely, morally neutral on moral questions of our time. now "the new york times" might make a lot of mistakes along those lines, but on balance i think it's trying to do a fair job. >> thank you, mike. >> thanks. before i thank both of them, both of our speakers, i just want to say that bill's book "gray lady down" is outside for anybody that would like to purchase it. i'd love to have mike's books, but they are out of date. his magazine is "democracy" and he has a web site. thank you. >> yes, i never said -- if you go to and the comments section, there's a navigation, and look around on that page. you'll find my blog.
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i actually have a lot of conservative commenters that really give it to me. you can join the parade. >> i got to get out. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> for more information on william mcgowan and his book, visit >> it's more than chicago economic history. it's chicago economic history, but futures have, you know, transformed the financial system in ways that i think that people don't fully appreciate and don't realize. that goes for traders as well as for people now wrestling with the big concepts like derivatives and understanding where they came from and understanding what happened here, i think, is a story that really hasn't been told very much. and i'm not so silly as to think that it's completely told in this book either. i mean i'm hoping that this is a
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scratch the surface of what i think is really interesting history. and it deserved a lot more attention. and i know i have more stories in my notes that didn't make it in. so i hope that i can sort of add to this record after this another time. because there just really is so much here. so -- yes, so i asked bill to talk because i was hoping that he might be able to explain to people who aren't in the industry who are here what i'm even talking about at all. because his family very much mirrors the story of the futures industry here in chicago. so there are -- maybe you could just start, if you don't mind, by what is the futures contract? >> right. i know you don't -- a lot of people who think it's a very mysterious arcane type of business. but futures contracts are essentially insurance products that are -- that was the reason
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that the industry first developed. it was futures contracts are a way to offset risk on the part of both people who need to use commodities and people who produce commodities. you know, very simply, a future's contract is a contract between a buyers and a seller for a specific commodity in a specific price for a specific future delivery date. and i guess, you know, the easiest way to explain it in terms of how it's used by people to offset risk, i think one the simplest examples is you take an airline company. someone who needs to use a lot of fuel on a regular basis. and, of course, the fuel prices go up, they can have a severe, adverse impact on the profitability. so the airline company realizing that the crude oil is at $80 a barrel. they are concerned that it may
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go to $100 a barrel. they have the ability to purchase all they need at the given nice of $80 knows that will be their final cost for the product. >> so they use futures because they have too much risk; right? they want to shove it off on to some other people. >> right. >> i think what makes it such a fun business, chicago has all of these people that are willing to take the risk. >> that's the other side. you know, the real economic reason for having a futures contract is for those who want to avoid risk. but it certainly also provides a great opportunity for those who want to assume risk in search of profits. >> visit to watch any of the programs that you see here online. type the author or book title in the search bar on the upper left side of the page and click search. you can also share anything that you see on easily by clicking share on the upper left side of the page and selecting format.
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booktv streams live online for 48 hours with top nonfiction books and authors. >> we are here talking with james robbins about his latest book "this time we win." >> it's a book about the dead offensive and vietnam war which was outstanding victory for u.s. forces and was reported as a defeat. i wanted to clear that up. >> how did you go about that task? >> going back to documents and unclassified things, talking to people involved in it, reviewing the case that's been made and it was a debate and show some of the points that are made about ted are actually wrong. >> did you explain how the media at time and i guess over history has gotten it wrong? >> yeah, the whole front of the book is about how in contemporary wars like iraq and afghanistan, they use it as an analogy. but they use it in correctly.
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i start with quotes from contemporary sources and go back and retrace it. >> can you list a terrific thing that was your inspiration for getting started? >> other than my publisher wanted. i've been studied insurgency and counterinsurgency for 20 years. one of my dear advisors was a friend of lyndon johnson. it's been in my life for a long time. it was a good opportunity to write about it. >> can you tell us about your next project? >> i'm looking at the 1862 uprising. we are coming up at 150th anniversary. i have some other things in the mix, depends on what the publishers want. >> thanks for your time. >> thank you. :
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