Monday, June 05, 2006


Byron Calame defends his right to sniff politicians' panties

New York Times Public Editor Byron Calame has published a despicable defense of Patrick Healy's above the fold investigation into Hillary Clinton's marital and sex life with husband Bill. The story, sourced entirely anonymously, told of marital difficulties and implied infidelity on Bill's part. It was a gossip hit piece and perhaps the lowliest piece of journalistic crap the Times has produced through years of mediocre, "balanced" crap.

COMPLAINTS about the May 23 Page 1 article on Hillary and Bill Clinton add up to one of the most uniformly negative and partisan reader reactions to a Times article during the past year. Most decried as tabloid journalism the story about the couple and the political implications of their marriage for her Senate re-election campaign and presidential aspirations.
I disagree. Over all, I found the article a worthwhile piece of journalism that deserved to be published in The Times. Senator Clinton's unique relationship with the former president is certain to be on many voters' minds if she pursues the presidency, and the article provided an update on where their complicated partnership stands. The focus, appropriately, was on the political calculations by the couple and their advisers, and the tone of the assessment of their personal lives was generally understated and evenhanded.
That's pure crap and to accuse readers of being partisan for not wanting to see the Times publish stuff more commonly found in a supermarket checkout aisle is absurd. The rest of his defense of Healy goes from bad to worse and I don't want to give any more space on this site to the words of a man whose stated job responsiblity is:

The public editor serves as the readers' representative.
Calling us names and taking the uncritical eye of a corporate yes-man is hardly any sort of representation of the Times' readers.

Fortunately Calame allows comments on his blog and we need to go there to keep hitting him for this inexcusable piece of biased journalism and his insulting defense of it. Here's what I posted and a number of NY Roots Project members have chimed in as well.

Mr Calame, you write “COMPLAINTS about the May 23 Page 1 article on Hillary and Bill Clinton add up to one of the most uniformly negative and partisan reader reactions to a Times article during the past year. ”

With that opening you told the world all we needed to know about your commitment to represent the opinions of NY Times readers. You called us partisan, projecting the issue as one only Democrats care about, as if the public on whole wants to hear about the contents any politicians’ underwear drawer.

I am a Democrat, though I am not a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s and I have no desire to see her gain my party’s nomination. But I expect the Times to both keep it’s above-the-fold journalism to matters of national importance and free of attack politics. The implication and innuendo included in this piece was unacceptable, as you’ve partially pointed out.

Since you and editors Keller and Abramson have now repeatedly defended this story as politically relevant investigatory work, I expect we will see forthcoming analyses of the marital and sex lives John McCain, George Allen, Rudy Giuliani, George Pataki, Mitt Romney, and Bill Frist - not to mention Mark Warner, Russ Feingold, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, John Kerry, and Joe Biden.

If your paper fails to provide at least one in-depth Page 6 style piece on a leading Republican presidential candidate, it will be you and your colleagues who have revealed yourselves as partisan hacks.

Also, as a public and politically important figure, I’d like to know about your marital state as well as that of Bill Keller. Are you gents married? Have you ever been divorced? Are you gay? How often do you see your spouse or partner? Have you ever had an affair? You and Mr. Keller play key roles at the paper of record and I think you’d agree that your personal lives are of critical importance to my ability to judge your worth as a journalist.

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