The Times as Jimmy Cagney and the reader as Mae Clarke. It’s about time.
A banner day for the New York Times.
Newspapers that don’t go out for blood are worthless. The Times often should be itself flayed because it so often doesn’t take full advantage of its tremendous resources and usually undeserved clout and instead exudes arrogance and condescension.
This morning, however, its reporters slapped on their fedoras and got the goods, and their editors snapped out of it, rolled up their Brooks Brothers sleeves, and laid it on us.
Like Jimmy Cagney shoving a grapefruit into Mae Clarke‘s face in The Public Enemy (1931), Ethan Bronner‘s “U.N. and Red Cross Add to Outcry on Gaza War” calls a war a war and shoves the details into your face during your breakfast before you have time to take your first sip of coffee:
“International aid groups lashed out at Israel on Thursday over the war in Gaza, saying that access to civilians in need is poor, relief workers are being hurt and killed, and Israel is woefully neglecting its obligations to Palestinians who are trapped, some among rotting corpses in a nightmarish landscape of deprivation”.
You can see that Bronner’s piece doesn’t fiddle around with the paper’s usual stiff, officious lede followed by some boring, pseudo-analytical claptrap about how something affects decision-makers.
Bronner’s second paragraph is the kind of thing you usually see as the lede of such a story:
“The United Nations declared a suspension of its aid operations after one of its drivers was killed and two others were wounded despite driving United Nations-flagged vehicles and coordinating their movements with the Israeli military. The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, called for an investigation by Israel for a second time in a week after the more than 40 deaths near a United Nations school from Israeli tank fire on Tuesday”.
The paper’s still not up to speed on the fact that many Jews, both here and in Israel (particularly in Israel), are angrily opposed to the war on Gaza.
The peace movement among Jews gets prominent play in the vibrant Israeli press and in other outlets around the world. But not in the U.S. media.
However, you can always go to New York’s own Forward, thank G-d, where the indefatigable Nathan Guttman‘s “Peace Groups Lose First Major Gaza Challenge On Capitol Hill: Attempts by Activists To Shape Resolution Come Up Short” opens a window on news that most of the rest of the U.S. press routinely ignores.
Enough of the negative stuff about negative stuff: The Times does deserve another kudos or two or three: Another example of today’s fired-up Times is a Paris dispatch from veteran Alan Cowell, “Gaza Children Found With Mothers’ Corpses”:
“The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday it had discovered “shocking” scenes — including small children next to their mothers’ corpses — when its representatives gained access for the first time to parts of Gaza battered by Israeli shelling. It accused Israel of failing to meet obligations to care for the wounded in areas of combat”.
Years ago, Cowell did a bang-up job writing such pieces day after day for the Times from apartheid-era South Africa. Now he’s filing stuff about apartheid-era Israel.
Even the paper’s editorial page this morning took off its kid gloves, dismissed its manservants and maids, and unleashed a sneer or two at its fellow Establishment members. Labeling the confirmation hearing for the new Secretary of Health and Human Services a “cuddly welcome for Mr. Daschle,” the editorial board climbed down from the pedestal it has built for itself and started punching at the incoming Obama regime:
“…The hearing before a Senate health committee was mostly a love-fest as senators from both parties expressed admiration for their former Senate colleague….
Unfortunately, the hearing did not tell us much at all about how the incoming Obama administration intends to pay for its emerging health care programs or how, for all of his smoothness at the hearing, Mr. Daschle will deal with the very real and very big differences his team has with Republicans on this and other vital issues.
Instead, the senators avoided asking such tough questions, and Mr. Daschle bent over backward to reassure Republicans that he would not try to ram anything too unpalatable down their throats….”
A welcome dose of cynicism instead of the expected deadly dull civility and caution.
Yes, there are still some nits to pick in the Times, but this morning the paper emits a louder buzz than usual.
Tally-ho! Release the hounds! The paper usually acts more like C. Montgomery Burns hounding the beleaguered folk in Springfield. This morning, it’s dogging a newspaper’s proper targets.
While you’re wiping the grapefruit off your face, click on these items, front-loaded this morning only with other Times pieces, most of which have surprisingly hard-hitting, newsy ledes…
NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
N.Y. Times: ‘Senate Allies Fault Obama on Stimulus’
N.Y. Times: ‘Bill Easing Unionizing Is Under Heavy Attack’
N.Y. Times: ‘Nationwide Inquiry on Bids for Municipal Bonds’
“The federal investigation that prompted Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico to withdraw his nomination as commerce secretary offers a rare glimpse into a long-simmering investigation of possible bid-rigging, tax evasion and other wrongdoing throughout the municipal bond business.
Three federal agencies and a loose consortium of state attorneys general have for several years been gathering evidence of what appears to be collusion among the banks and other companies that have helped state and local governments take approximately $400 billion worth of municipal notes and bonds to market each year”.
N.Y. Times: ‘For BlackBerry, Obama’s Devotion Is Priceless’
Bloomberg: ‘Excrement, Insulation, Bike Paths Trim CO2 Emissions in Cities’
Wall Street Journal: ‘A Wolfe in Regulator’s Clothing: Drug Industry Critic Joins the FDA’
N.Y. Post: ‘KID PERV IN AIDS SCARE’
Bloomberg: ‘Brokers Disdain Toaster Salesmen in Bank America’s Merrill Deal’
N.Y. Post: ‘SLAY FESS: REALTOR SENT ME OVER EDGE’
Wall Street Journal: ‘Business Warms to Obama, but Frictions Loom on Climate’
N.Y. Daily News: ‘Gotti hit man dips his foe in acid, but loves mommy’
N.Y. Post: ‘CAROLINE HAS “A MINUS”: GOV’
Wall Street Journal: ‘Wall Street Is Big Donor to Inauguration’
Wall Street Journal: ‘Lehman Brothers Plans Private-Equity Spinoff’
N.Y. Post: ‘UPSTATE “PONZI” HITS CHURCHES’
N.Y. Post: ‘FORMER GOPER MIKE WANTS TO GET BACK IN’
Wall Street Journal: ‘Bailout Pact Of GM, U.S. Would Block A UAW Strike’
Bloomberg: ‘London Boom Time Bill Comes Due as Bankers Buy Coffee on Credit’
N.Y. Post: ‘PUSH VS. TERRORIST “CELLS”‘
N.Y. Post: ‘MTA’S “GREEN” BACKS’
N.Y. Post: ‘NY CIVIL WAR BONES FOUND’
Wall Street Journal: ‘Hedge-Fund Middlemen Get Pinched’
N.Y. Post: ‘MORTGAGE RATES DROP’
Wall Street Journal: ‘Chevron Warns of Hefty Drop in Earnings’
Bloomberg: ‘Billion-Dollar U.S. Verdicts Vanish After Appeals, New Rulings’
N.Y. Post: ‘DTV DELAY BACKED BY OBAMA’
Bloomberg: ‘Obama Must Tackle Fannie, Freddie’s Federal Ties’
Wall Street Journal: ‘Panel Steps Up Criticism of Treasury Over TARP’
Bloomberg: ‘Al-Jazeera Said to Mull Bid for English Soccer’s Mideast Rights’
Bloomberg: ‘Madoff’s Three-Bedroom Riviera Retreat Belied Ponzi Scheme Role’
Bloomberg: ‘Merkin Intimidated Co-Op Board While Building Funds Madoff Lost’
N.Y. Post: ‘FINAL MADOFF PLUNDER PLAN’
Bloomberg: ‘Uma Thurman No Help to Arpad Busson in Madoff Fraud’s Nightmare’
Wall Street Journal: ‘U.S.: Madoff Had $173 Million in Checks’
Bloomberg: ‘Madoff Con Hits Boston, Home to Victim Shapiro, Ponzi’
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 9, 2009