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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  April 3, 2011 7:00am-8:45am EDT

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it's not reliable. we can't depend on it. now, i think they've solved some of those problems but i don't think we had the foggiest idea, the support burden that goes with operating the system's like that. i think in the end it probably ends up being cheaper to operate manned aircraft. now maybe it's a little bit different with high altitude stuff, you know, not that i'm saying -- >> just a fundamental question. we simply don't know what they're doing because the intelligence is a bad and they're so dependent upon sensor systems as opposed to people on the ground to tell you what's happening. we have no idea what effect they are having. [inaudible] >> more is more. we are so concerned about losing
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an air force guy and we could care less about the guy on the ground. >> and from its ineffectiveness. these systems can't do close support. they can't respond to a guy who's being ambushed in some narrow valley. this is pure, old-fashioned bombing mentality. this is like world war ii strategic bombing is what troy behind these drones. >> taking it down to the level of fascination. >> i'd like to make a comment. >> the common denominator is john, we all worked very closely with and had a great thing that comes to the heart of your question. he says machines don't fight wars. people do, and they use their minds. you're talking about a war where machines to fight wars and people don't and they don't use their minds. >> and on that note i think we want to thank d.c. rose, both for the truth and for the taxpayer, the three of you.
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you spend your life in this work. i want to invite the audience to thank all of you. [applause] >> you can download a version of "the pentagon labyrinth" for free. go to cd-i.org. type the author or book title of a search bar on the upper left side of the page and click search. you can also share anything you see on booktv.org easily by clicking share on the upper left side of the page and selecting the format. tv streams live online for 48 hours every weekend with the top nonfiction books and authors. booktv.org. up next when you mcgowan says "the new york times" has adopted a liberal ideological agenda of the tenure of current publisher
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arthur sulzberger, jr. he says the newspapers tarnished its reputation as a trusted news source. william the conqueror since his argument in a debate with michael tomasky, american editor at large for "the guardian." >> an exciting moment for journalism, people two years ago talk about journalism was dead. newspapers were in terrible shape. you probably saw this morning that aol acquired the huntington post. [inaudible] >> what i say, huntington? the "huffington post." last thursday or friday, rupert murdoch announced that they did it was going to appear on the ipad, and i've had only daily newspaper. a few months ago the "daily beast" absorbed "newsweek," or was it the other way around?
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we've seen a situation where there's no original content that occurs only online. i mentioned to sources, the fiscal times for those of you want to follow fiscal issues, and those who want to follow new york issues, a website called the city pragmatist. something exciting is happening. one of the good things is happened has been the webpage of "the new york times." had a very rocky start and it's caught its stride in the last six to eight months, a lot of good content. the title of tonight's discussion, the "new york times" good for democracy? a better question would've been on balance is "the new york times" good for democracy. into the question we can give yes, but, and no, but answers with variations in doing. let me introduce our two
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speakers, michael tomasky is editor of democracy and journal of ideas, deserving of applause. [applause] >> he is also the american editor at large of the british guardian where he writes a blog and he will give the address of his blog. it's too complicated for me. i haven't earmarked. he's also a frequent contributor new york review of books. he was editor of the american prospect in 2003-64 that he was a columnist for new york magazine. author of two books, hillary's turn, and left for dead. both of these gentlemen are high-end journalists who have wide-ranging extremes. bill mccollum is the author of
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"only man is vile: tragedy of sri lanka." which one 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. a former editor of the "washington monthly" he's report for "newsweek," bbc, near times back then, the "washington post," "the new republic," "columbia journalism review" and a variety of other publications on and off-line. a regular contributor to book reviews and essays he's been a commentator on fox news, cnn, msnbc, npr. a former senior fellow at the manhattan institute evening fellow and policy center and lives in newark city which is what he was almost late today. [applause] >> our format is simple.
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mike will go first -- bill will go first. bill will go first in part because his presentation is based on his new book "gray lady down" about the new times turkey will go first for 20 minutes. mike will respond for 20 minutes. will have 15 us of rebuttal answer rebuttal and will open the floor. is one suggestion. a strong request. when you ask a question make a question. no speeches. identify yourself who you are, are you with an organization that you want to be identified with and then ask a pointed question. let's begin. >> i'd first like to say thank you to fred for organizing this. and to frank for lending us this lovely space. it's nice to be back in the borough of my birth. the burrell of my parents birth
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and it's nice to see my brother who lives here as well. retired police sergeant. and a graduate of saint francis. nice to see michael who i knew someone in the '90s, and so let's get going. i think the best way to start i'd like to take you aback a little trip in time. we're heading back to the year 1972. it was somewhat an analogous period today. the u.s. was involved in a divisive and somewhat disappointing military intervention overseas. it was a polarizing cultural war at home. red state versus blue state, hippies versus hardhats. or hardhats versus hippies. and into that step to william f. buckley's "national review," a very viable of conservatism. september 1972 "national review" published an article about the times with a headline is it true what they say about the times? it was cowritten why john and
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patrick, one a former reporter at the new york world telegram, the other the assistant of "national review." at that time spiro agnew was railing against the elitist establishment press. richard nixon was livid over the times publication of the pentagon papers, and conservatives everywhere, some democrats were upset by the looming endorsement of george mcgovern. the focus of the "national review" article were charged of left-leaning bias, conservatives had long dismissed the times as a hotbed of liberalism. buyers beyond redemption, but the "national review" as to what extent was this impression soundly based? examined five issues that they said felt along a left right clef. they were senator james buckley,
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1970 run for his senate seat. the anti-ballistic missile treaty in both 1969 failed supreme court nomination of appellate federal pell court judge haney's worth and president nixon's decision to mine the north vietnamese. they conclude surprisingly that the new standard of the time more broadly emulated, particularly by newsmagazine broadcast networks, the nation would be far better informed and more moderately circuit this was great the treaty to the journalism practice and upheld by the editor of the new times. is executive editor of 1969-1986. he would -- impartiality, agnosticism, rosenthal was
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determined to keep the paper straight. he once told that it was important to keep the firm right hand on the tiller because the newsroom would naturally drift to the left. he believed there should be no editorial needles in which reporters use their personal political opinions to go after anybody. he believed there should be no pejorative quotes that were either under attributed or make somebody look bad that were not there. rosenthal was very patriotic and he was actually wary of the counterculture. he was also very wary of conflicts of interest amongst his reporters. when he found out a woman once had an affair with a politician in philadelphia, i believe it may have been the mayor, he famously fired her and said, you know, this is a catholic institution, i don't care if my reporters believe in elephants but if they did they can't cover
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the circus. so let's fast-forward a bit bit. in its 2003 in the wake of the jayson blair plagiarism scandal, tv comedians are having a field day. david luban said the old slogan of new times all the news that's fit to print, they've got anyone. they change. the new slogan is we make it up. in the summer of 2004 daniel, the paper's first public editor for readers advocate an office that was great in response to the jayson blair scandal published a column called is the times a liberal newspaper? he answered the question in his lead, with of course it is. he said if you think the times plays it down the middle on divisive social issues, you're reading the paper with your eyes closed. indeed, in october 2004 just a few months after his column, the "national review" at going many
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conservatives wrote a repudiation of that pro new times 1972 article advocating going times less. this is certainly a far cry from the 72 article in buckley's off stated assertion that do without the times would be like going without arms and legs. there were a lot of other controversial issues in 2005, 2006. there were charges that the times was a treasonous organization for publishing the national security agencies electronic surveillance of terrorism and terrorists and terrorism suspects both at home and abroad. there were demonstrations outside the times that call for new times the al-jazeera times. and then in 2010 we had the wikileaks and we have wikileaks, particularly it's cable gate, the top of the state department diplomatic cables.
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again, there were accusations of treason, denouncements, proclamations of possible prosecutions from officials, probably blowing smoke for public consumption. let me say right i don't advocate going times in the least. i don't think it 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'll get into that although later i started don't think it should be bombed as ann coulter once under. i read the time since i was a kid. i was very proud very early migrate to be published probably in a. i consider the times an important national resource. albeit in a digital. and i confess to being one of those new yorkers who refer to it simply as paper. free internet, i wandered down to the local newsstand to get the next day's edition if i was
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out of town and couldn't find it. i get withdrawal symptoms. but i say sadly those days, that young men and that "new york times" is going. generations when the times was considered a gold standard of american journalism and the institution was considered central to the public discourse of policy debate was the core of our democracy. and our shared civic life, yet i don't think for this generation at times can be called what dwight macdonald said it was for his generation, which was the principal and a contact for real world. nor can be seen i think as necessary proof of the world's existence, a barometer of its pressure. indeed some may not care. some may think the times are relevant in this age of media hyper choice but to think it's more necessary than ever. largely because much of the new media don't have the resources or talent and money that the times does or the authority that might be changing. nor can you provide common
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narrative we need as a nation in a neutral form of establishing what's true and what is not. these times to might demand the times at the command, certainly demand a much better times than we're getting. a lot of people focus on the decline of the times by citing some of the big ticket scandals, blunders and financial problems. i rather focus on the everyday reporting. i think to be sure the times still can produce impressive journalism and serve democracy quite well, it was excellent on the bp oil spill. i think it's her democracy quite well by showing some of the diplomatic and strategic blunders of the bush administration and the first couple years of the iraq intervention. i think it's been pretty good on
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ordinary people during this recession but i do think it's been particularly good on obama's solutions to the recession, but i think it brought home the suffering and ordeal that a lot of people are going through. unfortunately, a tide of left liberal politically correct orthodoxy has caused the paper to drip from its traditional role up on the stroke of political import information to that of a partisan cheerleader. the editorial page has always followed its own agenda, the prime is that perspective on the editorial play each tablet of two new support and are spread between the lines. bill keller has said that the times practices the journalism of fair indication that i would say that it practices the journalism of values projection. and that buys, there's no other word for it, has created a journalism at odds with its historic commission of rendering
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the news impartially without fear of fever. it's also greater journalism at odds with the liberal democratic fight is its long stood for. so even if you do support a more partisan times, and there are those who do believe news organizations should take up ideological codgers like they did in europe, britain in particular, but even if you do support a more partisan times and those self identified ideologically committed journalists in the room might do so, i think they're still cause for concern because the law of unintended consequences the liberal values, these ideologically committed progressives generally stand for, are often very ill served by the very paper that embodies them were said to have embodies them most ardently. john dewey, a great professor, educator, professor and philosopher, is credited with defining the vital habits of democracy. these were the ability to follow and argue, grabbed a point of of
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another, to extend the boundaries of their sin and to debate the alternative purposes of what might be pursued. yet i don't think the times measured up up to the standard. i think instead of expanding the boundaries of understanding, the times has never been. i don't think it gives enough sense of the alternative pursuits. i think instead of raising the tone of public discourse and make it more intellectually sophisticated, the times journalism often oversimplified, in some cases truly comes down. -- truly comes it down. i think that here i would like to go into a couple of the issues were i think the times faulty journalism and its ideological biases have not enhanced but if there are democratic culture, our democratic processes, and our democratic policymaking, this
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mature that fred mentioned has taken larger from my latest book, "gray lady down." it's the shores of my three books but it still weighs in at 260 pages. so by necessity of going to have to skim the treetops are to meet the time limit. if anybody was to go into deeper detail in the q&a please feel free, but i'll try to stay out of the weeds so to speak. the issues i will be as brief as i can first of all race and affirmative action. secondly, immigration and diversity. and the third will be the war on terror. these are the three issues in the book that i think are best presented and also the three issues that bear on our democratic life in the most important way. if i have time i'll get into the effect of times journalism on the tone and tenor of our civic culture. which is both a sea of our democracy and its reflection. turn to race and affirmative
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action, i believe that chapter with a former executive activ bn philadelphia mississippi the year 1966 watching as a group of reporters were staying in a circle with some activists holding hands and singing we shall overcome. he felt it was inappropriate didn't join them. 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 didn't front and center singing in the choir and singing with a moral fervor and a gust of air and orthodoxy of racial engagement and diversity now governed personnel policies of the newsroom but even more so the political sensibility behind most of the coverage. i think we see that in stories that involve historical racism, injustices and atrocities.
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some are newsworthy, things concerning the trial of emmett till, the retrial of the emmett till murders. of course it was newsworthy. but others seem more to stoke racial ill. and they seem to be printed in pursuit of emotional reparatio reparations. that's one of the times hobbyhorses were it will get a hold of some report usually by liberal think tank, and then we'll go down three or four times in the space of couple of weeks and report that there are more black kids being stopped and frisked than white kids in certain neighborhoods. we also had victor maliki in the coverage of the katrina
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catastrophe. in one case it was a major hoax perpetrated on a self-described victim of the katrina catastrophe to present herself as a bureaucratic ownership that had her hold up in a fleabag hotel in queens, her health in jeopardy, or having to go for five trips to the hospital, her children all living together with her. in fact, she had never been anywhere near katrina. she said she was from biloxi. she didn't have -- she didn't have custody of the kids she said she had, and she never went to the hospital. in fact, she was wanted for bank fraud, or check kiting and check fraud. she was arrested shortly after the times piece ran, and shortly after that the times standard editor issued a memo saying to the reporters we will have no
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more single source stories. the reporter essentially took her at her word and never checked any other public records that were unable to check. we have the awful story of the duke rape case, which stuart taylor, a journalism of "national review" wrote a wonderful book about which he called the fable of evil rich men running amok and abusing poor black women. it was just a story that was too good to be true. it was too delicious. she said they should take outcome of the time should take a billboard in times square and apologize. that they never did and it was never an editorial note to readers of anything acknowledging just how bad the times reporting was, 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. historically i look at their treatment of malcolm x.
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in 1965 when he was assassinated, the times that he was an extraordinary but twisted man turning many gifts to evil purposes. they also decried his ruthless and fanatic belief in violence. but in 2004, in relation to a harlem exhibition, it referred to malcolm x as a civil rights giant. and then there's al sharpton. al sharpton has more lives than a cat, when you think of just what kind of racial arson and education this man is responsible for, the rights in crown heights and i think one of the worst was his role in the massacre at freddie's market on 125th street in harlem. were eight people were killed, seven or eight people were
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killed. sharpton had gotten on the radio and said we will not stand by and allow them, meaning white landlords, in fact, the landlords were black, we will not allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper 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, sharpton draws in the press in selected groups, i think he's referring to the times, and assures them that this time he has really reform. the first new sharpton complete with profiles in the new times magazine and "the new yorker" came out. i would mentioned that after the freddie's massacre there was a story in the times i remember very vividly with the headline sharpton boyd in storm.
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we have jesse jackson's love child, you become the double standard there are pretty vivid. i think if ralph reed had fathered a child out of wedlock -- wedlock and uses such supporter, that would probably be boehner's on the front page of the paper. instead, jesse jackson's similar transgression and actions were buried on page 27 in a single column. 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 and pushing into the abc news got you into his own after the jodi kantor at chicago reporter started writing what she should have been writing from the get-go about what the
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revenue is all about. they also allowed obama to get away with minimizing his relationship to the former whether terrorist, whether in former, bill ayers, david axelrod said, well, he was just somebody new from the neighborhood, in fact had a relationship over 10 years and several tech being used, a couple of foundations. they were closer. i would like to switch now to immigration and just look at just how much immigration, navin in the newark republic in 1993 said it seems when you look at mass immigration we revert to their policy of mass immigration without ever making a decision to do so. i don't have this in the book, but i did do a paper on it about
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the 1965 immigration reform act which essentially listed the ritualistic national origins quotas at the time of the democratic party which backed it and the times which took its cues from them said it would not swell the roles of immigrants with third -- would change the demographic character of country north of the millions of people lining up. in fact, both of happen. whether the demographic change is good or bad makes no difference to me. what is important is that this was a huge benefit, pivotal period, pivotal moment in history and the times was completely at a loss to understand. since then the times has followed the very pro-immigration script. this goes particularly in areas like alien criminality. it was one case where the el salvador and gang ms-13 actually
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sent an assassin up to new york to try to get a nice agent who was very good at breaking up some of the rings on long island if they got the guy before he is able to go after him, but the times never did a story. one of my immigration activist friends from washington said what's going to take for them to pay attention? will be the beheading of a federal judge? another way they've treated immigration somewhat without the gravity that they really should take the issue of alien sanctuary cities which came up any 2008 republican presidential primary, sensuous innings -- sanctuary cities where there allowed to live without doctorates been checked or any kind of ramifications from
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crimes committed. gail collins said sanctuary cities was just a right wing buzzword for freaking out red state voters. she said it had a site by religious it next time you're a political ranting about a sanctuary city, say wasn't that were keanu reeves was trying to get to in the matrix? the times has been extra money if not absolutely silent on dual citizenship, these are issues that we're facing a with 93 different countries offering that dual citizenship leading to duel loyalties. it's been extremely soft on islamic immigration to it will not go anywhere near issues of the different customs and dies and attitudes that i think are profoundly antidemocratic involving submission of women, involving female genital
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mutilation, involving polygamy, and most importantly the issues of honor killings which is an issue around the country but you wouldn't know it from the times. and that also get to the idea that the times has been very soft on the ideological nature of islam in terms of the imams that they featured. they featured a walkie as a moderate voice. he of course given others at the time you that in san diego he may have given harbor to two of the terrace and shell of a terrorist may have been praying at his mosque in brooklyn. he has become the major jihadi propagandist and is on the u.s. hit list. i would say when it comes to immigration reform the times in both demagoguery. when people called into capitol hill against immigration vote,
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their columnists called it that they were just robots doing with their party leaders told them to do. and then they invoke the nativism canard. it's just what is part of our history, nativism. the war on terror, i was as by saying that soft on islam approach when it comes to immigration is subjective into the war, the war on terror is seen the tools used to fight the war on terror are seen as more dangerous to american democratic life than the threat that islamic jihadism represents. i think this comes from a set of ideas about the nature about islam, it doesn't want to admit. i think the europeans probably could teach us a lesson on that. there's too much lighting of the
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crackdown on muslim suspects and those who might give them suffer, to the rage which took place in world war i and the internment of the japanese completely different historical occurrences, but the times tends to lump them altogether. in summation, i would say i'd like to get into some of what i can get into right now in the rebuttal, but 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 and a nation without newspapers. and i wonder if he was reading the times right now whether he would say the same thing. thank you very much. [applause] >> well, i'm in a slightly
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opposition your i think because i don't work for the near times. i'm not a spokesman for the new times. as a matter fact, i am 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. i work for the paper this probably the times' greatest english-language world competitor. so yeah, maybe i should denounce the times and read "the guardian." so, i'm not a spokesman for the paper. i have my criticisms of the. we will get into some of those. and i think bill make some of your criticisms in the book, which i read, and you know, the times have certainly made its share of errors in recent years.
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i think the duke lacrosse coverage was bad. i don't think there's any question about that. this is an interesting point. i don't know many people outside of the new times, which defended institutionally, but i don't know of many liberals who defend a particular coverage. i think the times, bill mentioned a story the times did about john mccain did during the campaign. some of you may remember the story about a relationship he had, a friendship he had with a female lobbyist, implying the things that you think are being implied. i heard the rumors as i'm sure you guys did in advance of that story being published of what the times had and didn't have and so and so forth. there's no question in my mind that based on what ended up on 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 made some
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mistakes. the jayson blair episode obviously a black eye. i think there's probably something in general to bills sense of the papers natural institutional biases big award to be carefully about how i phrase this. and i think one of the reasons i was asked to do this, and by the way, thank you, fred, for asking me, frank, thank you. it's nice to see you. and thanks to everyone. but i think when the reasons i was asked to do this was i am certainly a liberal, there's no question about that. if you read my stuff you know i'm a liberal. but i'm a critic to some extent of liberalism as well. over the years i have been critical i don't really agree
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with 100% of my old book anyway. i'm sure he's going to quote me against me again in his rebuttal. that's fine. i have been somewhat critical of multiculturalism from a liberal perspective. that perspective being in a nutshell that when we emphasize differences to such a great extent, we can forget about the things we have in common. and we can lose a sense of a common society in which we fight for and argue for a common good. and i become come in things i've written, not just in that book the sense in the american prospect, i become kind of associated with that view. and i have attacked quite harshly by some on the left who disagree with my views.
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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 it in this united states, in this new york, in the city. it is after all "the new york times." it's not the kansas times. bill harkens back to what he calls the golden age of the new times, and there's no question that the rosenthal era 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. upon inspection they were not
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always golden. they were not going for everybody. and i don't want to sound like a politically correct tackling uncle, but some of these things are just true, folks. some of these things are just true. in the greater glory days that bill and folks, the fact is that if you walked revenue times newsroom in those days in 1967 or something, it was 98% women and -- 98% men and 98% white. that's how it was. but that wasn't appropriate for the world as it changed, as it progressed. it just wasn't appropriate i think anybody could is fiercely 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.
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now, the young sulzberger, the young sulzberger emphasized this above pretty much every other value. maybe that was over emphasis, maybe he was a little bit too much of a zealot about it. maybe other values and other standards should have gotten more attention from him. i don't know. but on balance he was certainly right to emphasize this. especially as i said before, in the city, as multihued as the city, as diverse as the city is in the times had to make this change and i can tell many of you here in this audience will remember, the metropolitan section of the times for example, back in the 1960s and '70s, it didn't even bother to
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cover the black communities and the latino very much at all. and this had to change. and it changed. and the change has come with some downside. all change comes with some downside. nothing in this world is all good or all bad. and there have been some successes and some mistakes the paper has made, but they had to make this change. and on balance it's far better, far better that they make an attempt to cover these, not on here in new york, a nationally. i don't believe, you know, you read bill's book, there is example after example after example after example, like 200 examples in the book of allegedly egregious things the paper has done. and you might put this down and finish and close it and think oh, my god, what a jeremiah, what a list of horrible sins.
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but then, step back and think for a second, okay, he's talking about 200 stories, something like that. over a debate about 20 years. 20 years in which the newspaper has produced out of a three under 65 editions, obligate the byline stories a day, i'm not good at math, what's that, 18,000 stores a year, 360,000 stories? subtract out the business section and some of these other things, but, you know, i don't think that the cia, if i may, french, and bill, that bill produces is as big of an indictment as he suggests. the times is reflecting changes in arguments intentions in society that not on the times is grappling with, but meaning
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institutions are grappling with. and are grappling with tremendous difficulty. the country has changed. the culture has changed. and i think a lot of this change has been for the good. 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 picture of a section in the book though where you're discussing the times coverage of gays and you criticize or seem to criticize a story, or a series of stories about gays options. i don't know, i don't think -- i'm asking this rhetorically, you don't have to answer -- i don't think you are on the side of saying that gay people are not equipped to be good parents or don't have the right to be parents. but it kind of seems like you're saying that in the book. well, that's a judgment that --
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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 it's absolutely clear that you should give equal weight to both sides of the argument. was at the time supposed to give equal weight to bull connor in 1964? well, i don't know. i'm not sure that's the role of the newspaper. the newspaper has a civic role to play. bill quoted dwight macdonald, a good quote, the principal point of contact with the real world. [inaudible]
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>> do you think he is light the loafers? >> i think that the times probably was that in those days, but in those days, the times was occupied much, much larger space in the journalistic universe, in the civic universe that it occupies today. and this is another point i would make, it isn't necessarily a direct rebuttal of bills, but a point that i think is very important to keep in mind as with any discussion about the media in the united states today. there's no more oracle in our
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media culture. that's long gone. it's disbursed the power and influence spread around, as fred said, "huffington post" for $350 million, according to america online today. the "daily beast" bought the new suite, not the other way around to it to your website but "newsweek." we live in a very different media culture. there's no more walter cronkite who can say in february of 1968, that he went over to vietnam and look at it with his own eyes and decided it was an unwinnable war and within two weeks public opinion went from 60 something, 64, 65%, in support of the war, to about 40%. because of one man, 25%. i've looked at the numbers, and it's very stark. it's also around the time of the tet offensive, but i think we can credit cronkite more than
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not. there's no more media culture like that. so in a sense the times is -- i wouldn't say one among many deals because i think it's so obvious he is 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 to. and the 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 rosenthal's age editing the paper. media critics started in the mid-to-late 1970s and 1980s, and they became ubiquitous. it gets nailed by everybody, all
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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 consume rather that they were not exposed by a listener's other media critics. another point about the so-called golden age. speaking of criticism of the times from the left, i can promise you that one could write a book, in other books like bills that take the times to task on the liberal side with just as much fervor and signing as many examples. bill cites a couple in the book that liberal critics, of which i was one, and he quoted me accurately, as having criticize the editorial page in the clinton years. and the editorial page in the
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clinton years is an important example. this was not besides being a partisan democrat paper by any stretch of imagination, folks. liberals were furious at the times. i did a count want to know i'm not remember it once but i wrote a piece in the nation about this in about 1999 or 2000. i think those late 1999, you can look it up if you want to, but far, far, far more editor those criticizing bill clinton and criticizing ken starr and his prosecutorial tactics. the paper broke the whitewater story. i'll finish up in a couple of minutes. the paper broke the whitewater story but it kept on clinton pretty hard. throughout his time in office. the paper more recently, it broke the eliot spitzer story.
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david paterson is another democrat at the paper didn't go soft on. i can cite a lot more examples than that. also, on the subject of the war, it's 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 line through background quotes like the famous stories. then it ran critical of the administration's arguments for war against iraq. bill cites this, to his credit. so there are many, many criticisms to be made from the left and "the new york times." what doesn't all add up to?
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bill keller would say i guess that now without justification, that if we attack like this on both sides, maybe that tells us that if we are facing off both sides made we're doing something right. i'll conclude by saying that i still think on balance, whatever's its heirs, it's an excellent, excellent newspaper. as everybody in this room quit reading the times on principle? okay. we've got -- let the record show that out of the people here with about about eight hands. well, that's something, but by and large i don't think anybody would reading the times after jayson blair. i think anybody quit reading the times, or very few people quit reading the times after very many of these things. it's still a great paper. if you're trying to keep up with what's going on in cairo and not
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reading the times, you're missing something. their coverage is great. yes, it is excellent but it is very good for democracy. [applause] >> take 10, 15 minutes now for you guys to change rebuttal, transeventeen. >> yeah, i'd like to ask michael one question that involves the issue of diverse -- double standards of the time. michael once famously wrote an american prospect blog peace headline of these tell her moscow, and also suggested -- keller must ago. like a arthur sulzberger, jr. says, and men should earn his own derogatory nickname, he took his from his father, punch. but i'd like to know having done
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that, how you've gotten both your books reviewed, you were the subject of a very glowing profile in 2006 about the young liberals sort of fighting back, meanwhile, i've been blacked out twice and both of my books. the first time the end of the book review was adult enough to go on record and say the reason why not reading this book, i'm not sure we would review this book is because i'm not sure it's proper to review a book that is so critical, a book about a newspaper like this that is so critical about a newspaper like this. the second i was promised a review, and then the editor invoked in some kind of policy squabble he was having with my publisher. and ethically i said just we could avoid the headaches with
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his boss. i think we would have to say in terms of ideological double standards, and i go into this book in terms of politics of the times book review in media, that the times fonts on left liberal journalists and media and authors, and it either ignores or insults those coming from the right. i don't particularly think of coming from the right in my criticism of the times, i think i'm coming from the view of good journalism. michael said maybe there's 200 stores that i picked out. this was a chart i went the last time, that i was cherry-picking. one of the reasons why it's a pile of example of what example is i show their were represented. i did not do a quantitative study that we determined representation, but i think people got the drift that when you pile these up, more and more
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that this is the norm rather than the exception. as to this point at the times was at one point during its golden age all male, and all like him it's probably too big i agree. there were always problems in nostalgia, i don't know who said it, i wish i had -- this thousand is the rusted memory cache that was shakespeare? thank you, google. that being said, i think michael misses my point when and critical of diversity. i'm not as critical of diversity as personnel policy as long as it is within the law. what i'm critical about diversity, two things. and freddie used this phrase once, mandated diversity within
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state convinces you have to a certain quota, a certain number. i 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, were it translates into a kind of demographic triumphant. where it translates into endorsing politics, set aside quotas, university admissions. where it translates into vilifying those who are trying to roll back affirmative action programs such as in california, prop 200 -- two '09 -- 200 die. connolly was the subject of an extremely insulting and demeaning magazine story, the
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gist of which was he wasn't black enough and do a self hating black and i thought he was leading the effort to roll back affirmative action in california. horrible, horrible story. the effort to raise standards at in cuny was interpreted as ethnic cleansing. because it was felt that minorities wouldn't be able to qualify its open admissions was terminated in standards were put in place that would make them have to attend either remedial classes or community college's first. so that's my truck with diversity. my of the truck 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
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progressive value. it's also a conservative value as well. it cuts both ways. it does not have a red state blue state divide. it has pat buchanan in some ways, and it has sal linsky's successors on the others. but it's interesting how robert putnam, a famous sociologist at harvard road report, and later the book, bowling alone, about social isolation in america, had been working for a number of years on assessing the impact of diversity on civic engagement and democratic participation. he did not like the results he got. essentially, he said that it -- places with the most diversity in america were those with the
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lowest levels of social trust, the lowest levels of social engagement. people tended to hunker down, basically became couch potatoes. they didn't go out and go to the local cake sale or join the rotary or the knights of columbus, or whatever have you. community life withers and people tend to hunker down in order to escape the friction that develops an excessively diverse places. yet, the times promotes diversity as an aggressive creed, and this is not just diversity of personnel policy that diversity as a demographic reality. ..
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>> 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 kinard. i'm all for gay marriage. i grew 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 from westchester for cover. the teachers in the area once
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they graduated they raised up their jolly roger flag and nobody seemed to care. gay parenting, i don't think the research is in firm enough yet. that's not to think kids should spend time in foster care or go without parenting. but -- i think michael should read the section a little closer. my point is the research is not as complete as it needs to be and the stories that have been written by gay parenting, gay adoption are just -- there's two magazine articles in particular were impossible to get through and reflected the confusion that the issue generates itself. so, anyway, that's what i have to say for now. >> are we trying to finish this whole event by 8:00? >> 6, or 7 minutes. >> okay. i should answer your question first. actually, they didn't review my
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first book. so, you know, there's exhibit a out the window. >> that you called for keller -- well, i did that, yeah, i can't remember it was. they sat on this story. they sat on the nsa story for a year. well, what i can say, i did it. they had reviewed my second book and reviewed it kind of unfavorably. so you may be lucky. as for the -- as for the profile, the fawning profile it, wasn't really a profile -- well, yeah. you know, okay, it was a side-bar. but i'll tell you, it was -- >> it had your picture in it. >> it had my picture in it, that's true. it did have my picture. and i had less gray hair. i just saw that picture recently. but, look, i wrote an essay in the american prospect -- i was talking in my first remarks about this kept of the common
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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, you may be -- you may have -- you have a hypothesis. you don't know for a fact. you may be right, but they wrote a piece about what my influence was having around washington. that was objectively true. what i wrote was kind of being talked about a lot. so they wrote a piece about it and they did a little side-bar about me and they ran a picture, that's true. my record is books isn't very good. what do i want to say? i think -- to talk a little bit more about the problem of diversity -- yeah, i see the distinction between, you know, newsroom diversity as a policy and diversity as an ideological
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ideological -- whatever you. a drum. i do see that distinction. and i guess sometimes the "times" lapses into a bad direction on that point. but we are in -- you know, we're in a period in this country's history where we're having deeply, deeply contested battles on every front, not just on the pages of the "new york times," but everywhere about diversity as a value. and it does to some extent get -- it doesn't leave much room for nuance. i'm one who has tried to do nuance on this question over the last 15 years or so. it hasn't always worked out, you know, the way i would have liked it to work out.
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here in a historical period where we are fighting this question tooth and nail every day and i do think that some of the reaction to the obama presidency has to do with these kinds of questions, and i'm not going to hurl javelins of accusations at tea party people about race. i'm not going to sit here and do that. but i think there's no question that there are in our media there are representations of two americas. and they're very intensely at odds with each other. not all americans, by the way. it's like, you know, 30% of americans on this side and 30% of americans on this side and the other 40% of americans are somewhere in the middle. and sort of agree with both sides here and there. and actually i think those 40% tend more to agree with the progressive side than they do with the conservative side, otherwise, the "new york times" would be losing circulation like
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this and there would have been a value judgment made by society at large that the "new york times" was failing the country. i don't think that judgment has been made by the citizens of the country and by the media consumers of the country. the "new york times" stock is in difficult position and they built this building and they are having whatever difficulties they have but they're still selling a million, whatever, copies a day and they're selling more copies than, say, 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 this paper the "washington times," which some of you may not even know exists. but it was started by reverend moon several years ago and it exists because he's willing to lose whatever he loses on it $30 million, i think, i read but whatever the number is. an astonishing number of money over the years. they've never gotten their
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circulation what i'm aware of above 100,000. let alone a million. so conservatives like to let the free market test decide things. the free market's deciding. the "new york times" is a success and the "washington times" is not an success and it's underwritten by an extremely wealthy man. [inaudible] >> fine, fine. that's my conclusion. >> there are mics -- just if you want -- if you want to talk, move into the aisle and just tell us who you are, what organization you're connected to and ask a brief -- a brief question. michael, stand up. >> i'm michael myers. i'm the executive director of the new york civil rights coalition. i want to ask michael a question
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of diversity. i don't think he got the point. you can hire minorities and hire people that are not white and have ethical standards of journalism so that the complaint about jayson blair was not that he was hired because he was black or he was hired because was black because the editors and the white male editors and the people above, left their standards down and didn't treat him as they would treat anybody else who was a journalist because he was black. and secondly, with respect to diversity in the newsroom, as bill was talking about in terms of coverage, if you don't cover people you know, a lot of new reporters, particularly the black reporters, have predicted black reporters have been hired with points of view about race, about community, and they cover -- blacks cover blacks,
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blacks cover civil rights and they omit in the paper people who don't gather them. >> let's gather a few questions and then turn the questions over to -- yes, you, sir. >> okay. michael white. my question is about coming dissonance. is the "times" wherever it is ernest and philosophically consistent or is it making calculated decisions about its financial survival and benefit? and the example i'll give you i pay a lot of attention to real estate development and associated politics. and if anything back in time and look at their coverage of eminent domain abuse issues or, for instance, the columbus circle development and i compare it to their coverage of what i
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think is a very big story atlantic yards, which has to do with their real estate producer, bruce ratner and it 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 won't to answer both of these now? >> yes. >> you're getting into some of the contradictions some would say, hypocrisy between the values that the primes preaches on its editorial page and its behavior as a corporate entity with a bottom line and wall street profile. some of it is another -- aside from that use of emnet domain to create space for its new headquarters, an issue such as executive overcompensation. the "times" has railed and
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railed about that in the paper. inevitably -- on its editorial page and inevitably reports surface in the news report about it. however, even though corporate governance is one of arthur salisburiberge, jr., hobby horses, the executives are way overcompensated. as a matter of fact, there have been movements on the board to is that they give their bonuses back and they have. so that's one thing. and opening up this question to this larger issue of the "times" finances. michael, you're wrong. the "times" does not -- is not read by a million people a day anymore. circulation just fell this quarter 7.5% bringing it down a million for the first time since the mid-'80s and in terms of the
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market test of whether the "times" is successful or not, i do not think that the "washington times" is the correct doppelganger or comparison. i think the correction comparison is the "wall street journal," which outstrips sales and circulation of the "times" on a national basis. and by the way, i was surprised. michael goodwin told me the "times" are only read or bought by 200,000 people in new york. it really staggered me. i think that they have -- actually, since the golden age, towards the end of that golden age, they were faced with huge financial difficulties. white flight and municipal problems of the city were causing in conjunction with the new aliteracy where you had
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college graduates who just didn't have a gene for public comparison. didn't read the "times" anymore. >> the decline. >> 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, a thursday and a sunday style section. they're expanding their soft news, their consumer news. a lot of their gay coverage is driven by demographics, by marketing. so, yes, i think that financial concerns do -- although they wouldn't like to admit it, they have to. financial concerns determine what they cover and how they write about it. >> the point taken about the "wall street journal" but the reason why i mentioned the "washington times," bill, if the
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"new york times" is what you say shot through in its news columns with subjectivity and bias, i don't think that's the "wall street journal." yet. but that is the "washington times." so in that sense, the "washington times" is a doppelganger is to the washes in your book. that's what i meant. michael myers, i take your point. i'm only talking about your second point. i'm ignoring your first point. [laughter] >> 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 get to one of the core questions about the whole history of diversity in multiculturalism in this country. and it's very key to the whole debate. was the old prediversity point of view in america -- at american institutions, was it
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some default purely objective point of view that was civic with the capital c and completely bereft of anticipate kind of bias at all? or was it just the point of view of the men who happened to run that thing back then? and it -- you know, and it had its own biases and its own subjectivities. this is a very important question that's very hotly debated. i'll stop there. >> when i was doing my graduate work, i extensively used the "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.
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now, i want to address you about today. and i'm talking about the standpoint of my piece of diversity. i am italian. 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 cover subjects such as those relating to my ethnicity and my religion? reporting on those on a fair and accurate and a trustworthy way? >> jeez, what would you think if
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i said, yes, frank? >> i would think you're not catholic and you're 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 assume to some extent you're talking about the problems with the catholic church and the child abuse things. well, i can't speak, okay? i won't speak to the particulars of the "times" coverage of that issue. it's not fresh enough in my mind. >> i will. >> but bilk do that, i'm sure. but i would just make the point that, you know, those things apparently did happen. there's 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.
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the catholic church is having these 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 am dating one. [laughter] >> so i'll have to pass on the italian thing. i do think, though, in terms of the diversity calculus inside the newsroom, the "times" has not followed through on that. it doesn't have its representative italian reporters and editors in the same way that it has its representative african-american or latino. it's not part of the mix. i think they lump white ethnics into one big mass. on the catholic thing, i won't go on the way that bill donahue, who's the president or chairman of the -- executive director of the catholic league who thinks
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the "times" is a deeply bigoted newspaper against catholics, i won't go as far as archbishop do-lynn has said, but the "times" seem distant from the role of catholicism. right after i published "coloring the news" the second wave of the church sex scandal broke. and i was on radio on tv a lot being asked questions about this. and having gone to catholic schools, including a very good catholic high school, then archbishop stepanak and having diocese and priests, some of whom were brought up on charges or however you want to put it, knowing some of my schoolmates
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who had bad experiences, some of whom actually sued, that the narrative that was carried in the "times" was much different than from my own personal experience. donahue puts it rather bluntly when he says the catholic church doesn't have a pedophilia problem, it has a homosexual problem. i think the use of the term "pedophilia" to describe that scandal was inaccurate because most of the victims up to 90% were post-pu-bessent are categorized as -- [inaudible] >> thank you, henry. you're always good for the zingers so the think of the use for the term "pedophilia" and i
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had an argument with bill o'reilly on the factor on this and, of course, he was blunt but essentially it made these priests who were abusing their authority and power and influence over these kids to be baby molesters as opposed to people who are abusing their power and influence over these kids who were four-piece, 15. in one case there was a kid in my high school who wound up suing who claimed he was -- his molestation started when he was 17 and continued he was a junior at holy cross. and i remembered the first day going to my high school where in assembly they said, look, you're 14. you're in ninth grade freshman
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year. most are 14. you're men now. you're responsible for the choices and decisions you make. now, that's a generational perspective that's changed much. and maybe it was a smoke screen but what i'm saying is, i think that the way the "times" reported that scandal was completely off. and -- >> let me cut of off and i got and i want to get a couple more questions and we're coming to another end. >> my name is eric and it's another factor to the diversity question. i think most of us would agree the "times" is a paper of a particular social clash. you know you might call it the golden age. when i was reading the paper in the 19 '70s and i was seeing the ads for boarding schools and summer camps, i knew that wasn't quite where i was at in reality.
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and the question i have is, a question, statement, i want your response -- i feel the "times" of is reflective of the social background when you say the newsroom was 98% white. i think there was a reason why it was. most of us i think in this room -- you know, as you say it's the "new york times." most of us in new york lived diversity -- we work with people and we work with people with a verity of ethnic background but in the "times" world it's still a bit exotic. and does that affect their approach? >> let's get one more question and then we'll go to the gentleman here >> my name is phil.
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and i'm a lifelong -- [inaudible] >> say it louder. >> put the microscope up to your mouths. >> the question i ask is how could 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. they had editors -- >> that's come up -- that's come up repeatedly. you weren't paying attention. let's get another question. >> if i can add just another thing -- >> judith miller did not itself drive us into iraq. >> israel and palestinians, not a word. >> that's out of the purview of my book. i focus on domestic issues. >> bring the mic to this gentleman here. >> hi, i'm fred. i'm a former publisher of
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publishers weekly. it seems to me that you could list 200 stories that you did like in the "times" as well as the 200 stories you didn't find and on balance you would have a newspaper that makes mistakes and a newspaper that does well. >> well, you can do that and come back a couple years now and spend enough time as i did and let's see when you have a. >> well, i have to tell you that i have read the "times" all my life. >> and have you -- >> and let me say that having been a publisher of period odd cal. i become a student of anything i read, which also includes the "wall street journal." the "wall street journal," since murdoch has taken over, while it certainly remains an excellent
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paper, there's considerable leakeg of what they're covering and what they are now doing and their goldeg age is gone as well. the fact is -- as against the grand notion that it is not good for democracy, you have listed what seems to me nitpicking and haven't addressed that big grand issue about whether the "times" is good for the democracy or not. >> just like this gentleman here who didn't like their coverage of the catholic church -- >> i want to get a couple of more questions before i get in. >> i wind up. >> i think it's more than nitpicking. >> hold on. i want to get a couple more questions. anyone else want to ask a question? >> henry is required to ask a
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question. it's in the city charter. >> you didn't ask the question which i think is very important and which constitutes rule 18i, and that question is, is it good for the jews? [laughter] >> no one has talked about that. and that's the anti-israel slant in the "times" and something that's attracted a considerable amount of attention. >> since we have two non-jews here i'm sure they'll have very interesting answers. we're coming to the end of the evening so i want to give each of you two gentlemen a few minutes to sort of wrap up. give us their thoughts and we'll let people get home and get dinner. [inaudible] >> oh, ed. i thought you were handing your microphone to other people.
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>> he was. [laughter] >> i have two very quickies and i hope -- >> you are? >> oh, i'm edward, i'm fred's accolade. going -- i wish it was is the "times" still entitled. have people given up their "times" subscription i did as a result of what i thought was disgraceful reporting in commentary regarding the tea party and the congresswoman being shot in arizona. i mean, it was journalism at it who are and that keeps bleeding over into the editorials and i'm not sure reading the editorial page is worth it anymore. second, regarding accuracy. i have a friend's son serving in iraq. when the mess was really happening they reported there was a terrible attack which involved his unit and i emailed him and said it never happened.
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apparently what the "times" was doing is running run-ins. they didn't want to leave the safety from baghdad and they got a report and ran with it. i wish i believe what's going on in cairo. between their editorial page going off-the-wall and the fact that i couldn't trust them on other stories, i'm wondering if the "times" is any more worthy of being read than any other paper? [applause] >> freddie's, question. >> a quick question from michael, there seems to be sort of a given -- >> i'm sorry. who are you, sir? >> my name is gavin mckinnis. it seems to be a given all gender, sull premise there needs to be any news source to give a solid picture of what the news is and no one has ever said why. that just seems to be an accepted fact.
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and i don't understand why that is. it seems to me that the "new york times" was white male in the '70s and it was more accurate than it is today since we came out with this agenda where everybody has to be equally represented but to me reporting seems like a very esoteric pursuit. i want to go look at an event, use the english language to document it. record it properly. who, what, where, when, why? why does everyone have to do this equally? >> let me hold you there -- >> all dance hall performers are from the midwest and we should have some single moms in there. >> we've got the gist. >> why don't you guys take five minutes to sort of answer this gentleman's question and the two prior questions. >> to the issue of nitpicking, i can say that -- if you come back and find something, you know, through the same rigorous process of several years, more
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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 of the local languages. but, you know, i think -- i did just as well as anybody who would have gone there, who happened to be of south asian background. i don't think you need to be of a certain ethnicity or race or color. and that i object to.
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i don't need giving people a break. i don't need, you know -- you know, giving, you know, the opportunity that one, you know, that anybody deserves but at the same time i don't think that we should have beats that are referred for certain races. [applause] >> and, you know, my experience is it doesn't work, either. it just creates resentment in the newsroom and bad journalism. >> what do you have to say about ed's question about the tucson -- >> i have a lot to say about that. it was deeply unfortunate that the "times" led the pack in assuming it was political in nature. paul krugman's blog on january 8th and then january 9th, he
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blogged something to the effect of -- we don't have proof yet that this was political but odds are, that it was. and there were other journalists 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 partiers are probably -- have more violent rhetoric but the progressive and liberal side have their open problem with this and i can quote you right now frank rich who, you know, calls, you know, americans who wouldn't take on the issue of torture in gitmo good germans who called john ashcroft the best goerbles of them on and committed religious believers with islamic extremists, maureen
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dowd who equated the male domination of the catholic church to the taliban. who said that because christian -- the christian right was gaining force during the bush administration that, god, we really are in a theocracy. the arizona shooter -- the arizona anti-immigration or anti-illegal law was met by linda greenhouse with an image that came out of nazi germany. so, you know, i think -- that the "times" and the left has a lot to answer, too, and maybe that's because the internet and maybe get more slashing and want attention, but i think that these -- it subtracts from the gravitas and the credibility of these people by using terms like this. >> mike, why don't you take the last word. >> yeah, i'm against nazi
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analogies in most cases unless you can make a really precise analysis that the nazi government did that you can relate to today and you can make an analogy and make it stick but going around calling people goerbles, no, i don't think that's a good idea. i criticized steven cohen from tennessee who actually did that, who wrote a piece that was very critical of him. you know, i guess i'll just return to the question -- did he leave? no. there you are, yeah. you know, i don't think anybody says that there have been to be equal numbers. i don't think anybody says there's 42% is x then 42% of the newsroom has to be x. i don't really believe anybody in the newsroom said that. but i do think what people say is that on balance, it's better to make an effort to have this
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kind of newsroom diversity. and to represent different ideas and points of view. and that -- you know, i've been on the end of running a magazine and trying to achieve that. and, you know, it's pretty hard to do. and, you know, you have to put effort into it. you have to -- >> it's hard to do for liberals. [laughter] >> young lady, would you please keep quiet in the first row? >> yeah, come on. >> but it's worth doing, to get to the question -- to the question that we're here to answer. democracy has to be nurtured by the civic institutions that we depend on to inform us and to do that nurturing.
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part of that subsidence is providing information in an unbiased way, as unbiased way as possible. but inevitably, inevitably, some value judgments about what kind of society we have and want to have, have to be made. now, anticipate newspaper, the "new york times," the guardian, you know, any of the networks, or anything like that, have to be very careful about balancing those two things. 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, and morally neutral on moral questions of our time.
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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. before i -- before i thank both of our -- both of our speakers, i mean, want to say bill's book "gray lady down" is outside for anybody who would want to purchase them. bill's books are a little out of date. >> i never said -- if you go to guardian.uk and then go to the comment section -- go to comment and look around on that page, you'll find my blog. i actually have a lot of conservative commenters who really give it to me so you can join the parade. >> for more information on william mcgowen and his book visit the book's website
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grayladydown.net. >> booktv has 48 hours of nonfiction authors and book programming every weekend on saturday from 8:00 am to monday morning 8:00 am eastern. >> if somebody had told me a number of years ago, at any point in my life about andrew johnson, i would have told them they're crazy. it's not that i don't think he's an interesting person. he's really an interesting person and not that i didn't know anything about him but for most of my career as a historian i tried to avoid the period of reconstruction. and it sounds strange for
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somebody who writes about slavery but i find it easier to deal with the sfooepth century and the 18th century and attitudes about race and slavery than i do dealing with reconstruction. there's something about it that's just maddening to me and i think what it is is that it was a moment of opportunity. when i think of the people in the 17th and 18th century who have very primitive ideas about many, many things in the world and you know there's lots of things they don't know, i can not totally forgive them but it's not as irritating to me, exasperating to me as a period of time when you have photographs, trains, things that are part of the modern era. and you feel closer to those people, the people in that time period. they seem more like us than someone in the 18th century or the 17th of century when i'm writing about the development of slavery and jefferson's
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monticello and how close we were -- how close the country was to a period of time when you really could have done something to begin the process of racial healing, the process of making america really one for everyone. so johnson would not have been my topic of choice. i know -- i read about that era because i had to but it wouldn't be -- i never would have thought i actually study it and actually write very much about it. but i got a phone call one morning from arthur schlesinger, junior, and telling me that he was -- that i was going to be getting a letter from him and sort of talking just in general. and i did get this letter from him in which he asked me to write the biography of andrew johnson for the american president series which is a very
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nice series, a very short concise books about american presidents and they get people sort of -- oftentimes get somebody like thomas jefferson like joyce appleby did and george mcgovern lincoln, i think, and there's a mix of historians and nonhistorians looking at these presidencies, telling the basic story, but also giving your own sort of individual spin on it. and he asked me to do this -- do the johnson book and i guess he figured i would put my individual spin on it. i also -- i agreed to do it because arthur asked me to do it and i had great respect of him and i knew him of the papers of the thomas jefferson and we were both on the advisory committee and paul gottieb was the editor on the book, "vernon can read"
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which is two friends when friends ask you to do things. who asked me to do this and i said, sure, i put aside my misgivings. i knew it's a fascinating topic. there's so much material, very, very rich, but i wondered if i would be able to sort of curb my natural feelings of antipathy of this particularly period of american history. it was many, many years ago and this book i have to confess long clover due in between saying it i wrote the hemmings of monticello which took a lot of time and energy and i went back to this and finished it and i'm very, very glad that i did. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv oregon. up next on booktv an event we originally aired on our website booktv.org,

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