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FDL Book Salon: Critical Mass

harpy-with-heads.jpg 

If you live long enough and retain possession of your faculties, your memory bank achieves a sort of critical mass that makes it increasingly easy to see certain connections and relationships.

For instance:

Today, while reading the Washington Times' George Archibald's stunning exposé of the inner workings of the conservative movement's favorite newspaper (and of the utter nuttiness of Francis Coombs), my eye was caught by this passage therein:

The Washington Times was started in 1982 as a conservative alternative to The Washington Post and successor to the more conservative Washington Star, which was purchased and driven into the ground by owners and managers of Time Magazine.

Ah, yes, the Washington Star

It had folded on August 7, 1981, three years after the Time takeover, but its financial problems had existed well before then.  The paper was in such horrid shape, and it was such a reliably conservative voice, that in 1973 the apartheid-based DeKlerk junta running South Africa at the time actually tried to secretly buy it as the junta saw the conservative paper as being very friendly towards them (which considering that the Star's earliest years were spent defending slavery, would not be an unreasonable guess).  During the 1950s's , the scuttlebutt was that the paper's management was anti-Semitic.

Charming little rag, eh?

Oh, and check this out, courtesy of Wikipedia's Washington Star entry:

Writers who worked at the Star in its last days included Nick Adde (Army Times),Michael Isikoff (Newsweek), Howard Kurtz (Washington Post), Fred Hiatt (Washington Post) Sheilah Kast (ABC News), Jane Mayer (The New Yorker), Chris Hanson (Columbia Journalism Review), Jeremiah O'Leary (Washington Times), Chuck Conconni (Washingtonian), Crispin Sartwell (Creators Syndicate), Maureen Dowd (New York Times), Jules Witcover (Baltimore Sun), Jack Germond (Baltimore Sun), Judy Bachrach (Vanity Fair), Lyle Denniston (Baltimore Sun), Fred Barnes (Weekly Standard), Kate Sylvester (NPR, NBC, Governing magazine) and Mary McGrory (Washington Post.)

Jane Mayer, Mary McGrory, Jules Witcover and Jack Germond are all very good reporters.  But note how many of the persons named had gone on to either be blatant shills for the conservative movement (Fred Barnes, Jeremiah O'Leary, Fred Hiatt) or work to serve its interests (Michael Isikoff, Howard Kurtz, Maureen Dowd)? (And note that the Washington Star, conservative as it was, passed away before William Simon's scorched-earth attitude towards dealing with liberalism had taken full root among conservatives; the Moonie Times — which as Archibald notes above is the Star's spiritual heir — would never, ever hire McGrory, Mayer, Witcover or Germond if they were starting out today.)

Do remember this the next time you hear somebody refer to MoDo, Isikoff, and/or Kurtz as "liberal". 

And that leads us to another discussion:  The ideological underpinnings of our "fair and balanced" media.  People like Howard Kurtz hate, hate, HATE it when you point out their histories (or their spouses).  Why?  Because it shows the reader where they're coming from.  And it destroys the notion of their "objectivity."

Which leads me to another question:  who among the "thinking class" raises questions for you, because of their history, because of their past writing, just because…and why.  That whole "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" game has nothing on the incestuous Beltway crowd.  Let's talk bias, and interconnected shennanigans, and whatever else you think ought to be addressed more often in the disclosures that should come with book jackets or op-ed pieces.  

Book SalonCommunity

FDL Book Salon: Critical Mass

harpy-with-heads.jpg 

If you live long enough and retain possession of your faculties, your memory bank achieves a sort of critical mass that makes it increasingly easy to see certain connections and relationships.

For instance:

Today, while reading the Washington Times' George Archibald's stunning exposé of the inner workings of the conservative movement's favorite newspaper (and of the utter nuttiness of Francis Coombs), my eye was caught by this passage therein:

The Washington Times was started in 1982 as a conservative alternative to The Washington Post and successor to the more conservative Washington Star, which was purchased and driven into the ground by owners and managers of Time Magazine.

Ah, yes, the Washington Star

It had folded on August 7, 1981, three years after the Time takeover, but its financial problems had existed well before then.  The paper was in such horrid shape, and it was such a reliably conservative voice, that in 1973 the apartheid-based DeKlerk junta running South Africa at the time actually tried to secretly buy it as the junta saw the conservative paper as being very friendly towards them (which considering that the Star's earliest years were spent defending slavery, would not be an unreasonable (more…)

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