Dean Baker on the *Washington Post*
Hoisted from Comments: Conflicts of Interest in American Finance

The New York Times Is Not Shrill Enough!

The New York Times. They always blame the Democrats first:

A Timetable Isn't an Exit Strategy - New York Times: As America's military experience in Iraq grows ever more nightmarish, it is becoming clear that President Bush's strategy comes down to this: Keep holding to a failing course for the next 29 months and leave it to the next administration to clean up the mess. That abdication of responsibility cannot be allowed to continue at the expense of American lives, military readiness and international influence. With the Republican majority in Congress moving in perpetual lock step behind the White House...

You would think that would be the beginning of an editorial about how voters nationwide should dump the feckless Republicans from Congress. Sadly, no! The editorial goes on:

the job of pressing the issue has been dumped in the laps of the Democrats. Unfortunately, they have their own version of reality avoidance. It involves pretending that the nightmare can be ended by adopting a timetable for a phased withdrawal of American troops.... The Democratic timetable spins a different fantasy: that if the Iraqis are told that American troops will be leaving in stages, at specific dates, their government will rise to the occasion and create its own security forces to maintain order.... Democrats are embracing the withdrawal option because it sounds good on the surface and allows them to avoid a more far-reaching discussion that might expose their party's own foreign policy divisions. Most of all, they want an election-year position that maximizes the president's weakness without exposing their candidates to criticism. But they are doing nothing to help the public understand the grim options we face...

What does the New York Times suggest that Democrats do to "help the public understand the grim options we face"? What is the New York Times doing to "help the public understand the grim options we face"? Wouldn't an editorial laying out those grim options and demanding action from Senate Republcians be a much more fruitful use of its space than yet another exercise in blaming the Democrats first?

Perhaps a clue to the peculiar mental universe that the New York Times inhabits can be gained by looking at this from Washington Post reporter Tom Ricks, where he says that he could not write the stories that needed to be written in the runup to the attack on Iraq because:

Congress didn't hold hearings in which credible information was presented that said, no, the administration's case is wrong.... Congress is kind of the engine of Washington, the engine of government. And if Congress is asleep at the wheel, if war seems inevitable, at some point your editors say, why do you keep writing about doubts about this war, when it's going to happen?... You've written a lot of stories about the doubts about the war. Give us more stories about the war plan...

I think the same thing is going on here with the New York Times editorial board. They no longer think--did they ever think?--that their principal reason for being was to inform their readers. They think, instead, that their principal reason for being is to be stenographers: to transcribe what the powers that be are saying.