“I think the editorials are viewed by most reporters as largely irrelevant, and there’s not a lot of respect for the editorial page. The editorials are dull, and that’s a cardinal sin. They aren’t getting any less dull. As for the columnists, Friedman is the worst. He hasn’t had an original thought in 20 years; he’s an embarrassment. He’s perceived as an idiot who has been wrong about every major issue for 20 years, from favoring the invasion of Iraq to the notion that green energy is the most important topic in the world even as the financial markets were imploding. Then there’s Maureen Dowd, who has been writing the same column since George H. W. Bush was president.”
This is one of the big media voices on the state of the New York Times. The dreadful liberal editorial section is run by Andrew Rosenthal.
Yet another former Times writer concurred. “Andy is a wrecking ball, a lot like his father but without the gravitas. What strikes me about the editorial and op-ed pages is that they have become relentlessly grim. With very few exceptions, there’s almost nothing light-hearted or whimsical or sprightly about them, nothing to gladden the soul. They’re horribly doctrinaire, down the line, and that goes for the couple of conservatives in the bunch. It wasn’t always like that on those pages.”
One former business reporter remarked that the entire business section viewed the editorial page as “irrelevant” and went on to say, “Their business editorials were relatively rare and really bad.”
The Times declined to provide exact staffing numbers, but that too is a source of resentment. Said one staffer, “Andy’s got 14 or 15 people plus a whole bevy of assistants working on these three unsigned editorials every day. They’re completely reflexively liberal, utterly predictable, usually poorly written and totally ineffectual. I mean, just try and remember the last time that anybody was talking about one of those editorials. You know, I can think of one time recently, which is with the [Edward] Snowden stuff, but mostly nobody pays attention, and millions of dollars is being spent on that stuff.”
Asked by The Observer for hard evidence supporting a loss of influence of the vaunted editorial page, the same Times staffer fired back, “You know, the editorials are never on the most emailed list; they’re never on the most read list. People just are not paying attention, and they don’t care. It’s a waste of money.”
Multiple attempts to reach Mr. Rosenthal were rebuffed, and emails directly to him were responded to instead by the Times publicity operation.
A Times spokesperson defended the page, telling The Observer, “The power of the editorial page is in the strength of the ideas it expresses. Some editorials are read more widely than others, but virtually all generate discussion and response among our readers, policy-makers and thought leaders. Recently, the editorial series on STEM Education and the editorial on Mr. Snowden sparked a great deal of discussion among readers and policy-makers.”
Asked for data, she added, “We do not share statistics or traffic numbers at the individual article or section level.” In a list of 2013’s most read stories the Times sent over, no editorials or columnists appeared (two guest editorials, from Angelina Jolie and Vladimir Putin, did make the cut).
Another sign of a loss of influence may have been revealed this past fall. A member of then Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s inner circle who remained in City Hall until the end of Mr. Bloomberg’s term told The Observer that the entire administration was “shocked” by the Times’ inability to drag its endorsed candidates over the goal line, referring to Christine Quinn in the mayoral primary and Dan Garodnick in the City Council speaker race. “When was the last time The New York Times lost both? Those are both essentially Democratic primaries, and the Times couldn’t carry any water.” The Times also endorsed Dan Squadron for advocate; he was defeated by Letitia James.
This charge was amplified by a different member of Mr. Bloomberg’s kitchen cabinet who left the administration a few years ago. He reports that Ms. Quinn’s political team viewed the Times endorsement as “critical” to her cementing the nomination, which led them to allow the Times to follow Ms. Quinn around making a documentary. What resulted was Hers To Lose, a behind-the-scenes look that was clearly supposed to show the historic win of an out lesbian but instead turned into an awkward and sometimes excruciating look at a campaign that finished in third place, despite the Times endorsement.
According to this source, “Chris worked very hard to get the endorsement. Ask yourself: Why did she allow the Times movie? Why would any campaign ever do that? They were so focused on the editorial [endorsement] that when Executive Editor Jill Abramson personally called over and asked Chris to do the movie, it was seen within the Quinn campaign as something they’d better say ‘yes’ to in order to get the endorsement.”
As for the charges that Mr. Rosenthal is a despot, one writer provided a funny example that others interviewed for this story immediately recognized. “Rosenthal himself is like a petty tyrant, like anytime anyone on the news pages uses the word ‘should’ in their copy, you know, he sends nasty emails around kind of CCing the world. The word ‘should’ belongs to him and his people.”
Also coming in for intense criticism were the opinion-page columnists, always a juicy target. Particularly strong criticism, to the point of resentful, was directed at Thomas Friedman, the three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize who writes mostly about foreign affairs and the environment.
One current Times staffer told The Observer, “Tom Friedman is an embarrassment. I mean there are multiple blogs and Tumblrs and Twitter feeds that exist solely to make fun of his sort of blowhardy bullshit.”
Gawker has been particularly hard on Mr. Friedman, with Hamilton Nolan memorably skewering him in a column entitled “Tom Friedman Travels the World to Find Incredibly Uninteresting Platitudes,” as a “mustachioed soothsaying simpleton”; another column was titled “Tom Friedman Does Not Know What’s Happening Here,” and the @firetomfriedman Twitter account has more than 1,800 followers.
The mainstream media is in a state of collapse, the New York Times’s own writers admitt that the NY Times opinion pieces are now seen as “irrelevant” and have no impact on public discourse whatsoever.
Source: The New York Observer