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Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Grey Lady

The reason the NY Times is referred to as the Grey Lady, as opposed to, say, the Red Lady, is because they are so successful at draining all the color out of a story.

The Times considers itself high-minded, above appealing to the worst in human nature. Too often this means studiously ignoring the feral side of human nature. But you simply don't learn about what people are really like unless you read juicy stories with quotes showing people at their most self-serving. (The NY Post serves these stories up on a regular basis.) Reading a Times account of a story is a little like looking at a charcoal and ink drawing of wild beast rather than seeing a movie showing the animal in all its Technicolor glory. This is a prudish and, at heart, dishonest sensibility.

Here are a few of the concepts the Times just doesn't get, or even worse, pretends not to get: beauty, intelligence, and truth. Instead it offers a strained, unrealistic version of political correctness.

First, beauty; some people are good-looking and some are not. This basic fact governs sexual attraction and status. None of us is immune to it in our personal lives. And that includes every single NYT reporter. If you want to know whether beauty really matters, simply look at the Sunday Times Magazine fashion advertisements: you'll never see a better-looking collection of women. But the Times would sooner have Naomi Wolf in their pages than anybody who acknowledged beauty's gravitational pull.

As befits a newspaper which celebrates the sculpture of Richard Serra and the paintings of Jasper Johns.

Intelligence is another fact of life. Some people are smart, and some dumb. Differences in intelligence are largely genetic in origin, all ethnic groups are not identical in average IQ, and this largely explains how and where civilization progressed. The NYT, of course, strenuously denies this, and turns a blind eye to any evidence that it is so. (Which means ignoring an awful lot.) Yet every individual NYT reporter keenly wants to have his articles lauded as brilliant. And what exactly constitutes brilliance? A plateload of IQ points, along with some originality. Yet any mention of this is abjured by the NYT.

Truth is another concept, which, while occasionally subjective, is always sacrificed by the Times on the altar of political correctness. Take a clear-eyed look at any of its sacred cows? Forget it. One such bovine is the taboo subject of gender differences. The French say, vive la difference! The Times says, quel difference?

Reading the NY Post is like seeing an entertaining, enjoyable, and sexy -- though not necessarily Oscar caliber -- movie. Reading the Times is like watching a dull Tass documentary filmed in black and white. The choice is stark. One is full of life, nerve, and common sense. The other is dessicated, prim, stiff, and pretentious.

One telling difference in the online versions of each newspaper is that the Post allows reader feedback, whereas the Times doesn't, for fear that some politically incorrect thought might peep through. The Post allows raw emotion, the Times only its own prim disapproval.

If you can stomach one more metaphor, the Post is like a hamburger, juicy and rare. The Times is an arugula salad with no dressing. You read the Times because it's good for you, and because of what you think that says about you, not because you enjoy it. But would you continue to feel virtuous if you found out that the salad served up by the Times is not that good for you -- that it's just propaganda, the intellectual equivalent of eating cardboard?

Just because something doesn't taste good doesn't mean it's good for you.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this put down of our colossus of the national print media. But I have to admit (with some trepidation on this blog) that I will continue to be a regular reader and to regard it as a great paper. (..he retreats into yuppie liberal elitist bunker awaiting explosive fallout.....).

And I must share with you a few excerpts from a very recent OpEd in the NYT that argues against the "grey and colorless jibe".
The OpEd writer described his subject as follows:
“…...a provocateur who likes to play with matches in the tinderbox of racial and ethnic confrontation.”
“……seems oblivious to the real danger of his execrable behavior.”
“… road too low for him to slither upon.”
“…..makes you want to take a shower.”
Ironically the concluding advice to the subject of this vituperative attack was:
“But I worry about the potential for violence that grows out of unrestrained, hostile bombast....My sincere advice.... is chill, baby, chill.”

It seems that it takes a popular figure from the right wing media to bring out the best in the NYT. ;)


(PS I realize that I have been so regularly off topic that other readers may be doubting my mental state. I am therefore making an effort to stay a little closer to the topic in hand in an attempt to rehabilitate my reputation with your erudite, and editorially demanding, readership.)

John Craig said...

Guy --
Thank you. I had actually originally written that the Times whitewashed everybody -- unless they were Republican -- but then scrubbed the post clean of any purely political references. I guess I should have kept them in. I didn't see that particular editorial, but assume it's about Glenn Beck. The funny thing is, that description actually fits Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton much more closely than Beck, but of course, the Times in its PC way, would never speak that way about either of them. It's also funny because I always feel unclean after reading the NY times editorials, they're such a bunch of hypocritical buffoons.

You're not off topic at all. And whatever small readership I have, they can't be too editorially demanding if they read this blog.

Full disclosure: We subscribe to the NY Times too, although I've suggested to my wife several times that we cancel it. Shows who rules here...