Sunday, September 23, 2007

I'll Be Damned

[posted by Callimachus]

Looks like the New York Times gave a sweetheart deal on that Petraeus ad after all.

"We made a mistake," Catherine Mathis, vice president of corporate communications for The Times, told the newspaper's public editor.

I'll say you did, sister. The screechy preachy left's reaction? attack the messenger, but when that falls apart and the Times itself admits error, claim it's all just a deliberate, coordinated, Rovian distraction from the unwinnable quagmire that is Iraq. Which reaction ought to be getting stale by now, even over there, but I doubt it ever will.

Meanwhile, the socialist, Chomskyite, Chavez-loving left carefully explain why their minions should not say a word against Iran's racist, fundamentalist, misogynistic, warmongering president, no matter what he does:

A rally where each speaker denounces Ahmadinejad's reactionary policies and just a few call explicitly for military action will still be perceived, on campus and around the U.S., as pro-war. The right-wing media, from Fox News to the New York tabloids, has already jumped on the event, and will spin it to favor their cause. Conservative organizations with no affiliation to Columbia's campus, such as the David Project, have already signed on to the rally on Facebook, and are likely to distribute hundreds of warmongering flyers and picket signs. The rally will seem to be a sea of pro-war demonstrators -- and the more people who attend it and the more organizations that endorse it, the more powerful this disastrous message will be.

A brief search of the magazine's archives suggests this is the first time it has ever advised its followers not to protest something. In every other case, protest was the absolute and most direct way to accomplish necessary change in the world. No matter how you felt about the other people doing it and their shadowy backers:

As far as the fighting between UFPJ and ANSWER -- I cannot speak for all of SDS, but ANSWER tends to have more anti-imperialist politics like that of SDS. There was an open letter to UFPJ written recently that was critical of the call that they put out for a protest in NYC on March 18th -- the day after the ANSWER March on the Pentagon and during the planned encampment in DC. Some SDS activists signed on to that letter and I agree with it. I oppose any kind of efforts to divide the anti-war movement.

Emphasis added. A conservative site finds a retort to this sort of squirm and other nonsense in a 1962 speech by William F. Buckley:

[F]ight the tyrants everywhere; but do not ask them to your quarters, merely to spit upon them: and do not ask them to your quarters if you cannot spit upon them: to do the one is to ambush a human being as one might a rabid dog; to do the other is to ambush oneself, to force oneself — in disregard of those who have died trying to make the point — to force oneself to break faith with humanity.

UPDATE: Joe Gandelman makes the case for the discount rate being a business error, and it may well have been one. That the advertiser was quoted a conditional rate that was presented without the caveat that it was not a guaranteed rate (the advertiser sought a guaranteed placement) seems to be generally agreed upon, and the consensus is that that was a mistake.

And it is possible that the ad happened to fit into the paper anyhow, so MoveOn never would have needed to pay the full rate. But that can never be known now, without recreating the fluid decision-making of the people in the department that constructs the paper and break up the newshole every day for the next day's edition.

As that Monday's paper was being blocked out, was anyone aware of the MoveOn ad and what it said and what terms it had been sold under? About the only quantifiable answers I can think to seek are: Was the ad-to-copy ratio that day in line with what it usually is in the Times? Were other ads run that Monday that had been taken out on a conditional basis? Were ads held?

As news media outlets know so well in other contexts, the appearance of impropriety alone is damnable. As the Times' own reporting of the kerfluffle makes clear, they have become aware that much if not most of the public regards the media as players in the game, not merely observers of it.