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Keller Deserves a Game Misconduct

Howie Kurtz in today’s [tag]Washington Post[/tag]:
Piling On the [tag]New York Times[/tag] With a Scoop

Even by modern standards of media-bashing, the volume of vitriol being heaped upon the editors on Manhattan’s West 43rd Street is remarkable — especially considering that the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal also published accounts Friday of a secret administration program to monitor the financial transactions of terror suspects. So, in its later editions, did The Washington Post.

It’s no surprise the NY Times is the target for all the vitriol. It’s like ice hockey: In a bench clearing brawl the first guy over the boards gets the hook, not the backup goalie who finally drags his ass onto the ice. Keller released the story first; everyone else followed his lead.

When the other team’s fans consider that player a goonish cheap shot artist, who consistently ignores the rules to follow his own agenda–take out their side’s top scorers by any means possible–the fans want, at the very least, his ass in the box for major minutes, followed by a fine and some suspension time. (In lieu of that, his face pounded bloody into the ice will suffice.)

But this isn’t a hockey, it’s politics; a far more brutal sport. Keller’s interpretation of the reaction proves, for me, politics is exactly the game he considers himself to be playing covering:

Times Executive Editor [tag]Bill Keller[/tag] said in an interview yesterday that critics “are still angry at us” for disclosing the government’s domestic eavesdropping program in December, “and I guess in their view, this adds insult to injury. . . . The Bush administration’s reaction roused their base, but also roused the anti-Bush base as well,” he said, noting an approximately even split in his e-mail.

Still, Keller added, “a lot of people have legitimate and genuine feelings about this, and I don’t mean to belittle that.”
(emphasis added)

The first thing mentioned was the “fan” reactions; then the folks who didn’t seem to have a favorite team were acknowledged, grudgingly, so much so he felt the need to declaim he wasn’t treating them as unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

Here’s Keller shoving a stick between the legs of his earlier reasoning for running the piece:

“The main argument they made to me, extensively and at length, besides that the program is valuable and legitimate, was that there are a lot of banks that are very sensitive to public opinion, and if this sees the light of day, they may stop cooperating,” Keller said.

TWWEEET! Delayed penalty: You said their arguments were only “half-hearted” the other day….
Five minute major; blatant backtracking!

Howie goes on to cite the different people who are howling for the NY Times to get penalized, while ignoring the other outlets involved in this brawl. He ends with this guy explaining why the NY Times is standing alone at center ice:

Terence Smith, a former Timesman who until recently was PBS’s media correspondent, said the paper is a “lightning rod when its critics are playing politics…. An institution like the Times is a God-given target….”

Which helps me with my hockey analogy. People never–most still don’t–gave a rat’s ass about the game I’ve played and loved all my life…
but for one, brief moment….

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