Claire, Perhaps You Can Derive Some Inspiration From the Provocative Dr. Rahe
As Claire prepares to dive into Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of the New York Times Means for America, the newest volume from Encounter Books, I direct her attention to a comment that our own Paul Rahe posted earlier this day:
[I]t is time to give up on The New York Times. Years ago, when it became company policy to call Angela Davis a "political activist," it had already become clear that the paper should be renamed Pravda on the Hudson and that it was engaged in a disinformation campaign....The appropriate posture for its critics should not now be disappointment; it should be hilarity. Pravda on the Hudson is almost as entertaining to read as MSNBC is to watch.
Since Claire and I have discussed the matter often and at some length, I happen to know that, like me, Claire can't quite bring herself around to Paul's point of view. Even now, the New York Times--well, it matters. That's the way I still see it, anyway--and I know Claire does, too.
What I can't figure out--what I look to Claire to explain for me--is why. Is it because I grew up in upstate New York, looking yearningly to Manhattan for so many years? (Claire grew up everywhere, so that argument won't work for her.) Is it simply generational? Are Claire and I simply artifacts of a time, and a certain kind of education, in which everyone simply took it for granted that the New York Times was the most important journalistic outlook in the country? Are those days gone? Do kids on Ivy campuses simply shrug at the thought of the Times and reach for the Wall Street Journal instead? (At Dartmouth three decades ago, a bunch of undergraduates would go in together on a subscription, then pass the Times around each day. It was a precious object--not an object of devotion, exactly, but important. Here at Stanford the other evening, I happened to pass a newstand on which the Times is given away each day for free. It was still half full.) Is it that the Times is still so much of New York--and that New York, even now, remains the capital of a certain kind of intellectual and cultural life?
Claire, what is it? Why are we thus afflicted? What can't we bring ourselves to follow Paul's sensible prescription and simply laugh the New York Times to scorn?
Here in Palo Alto, I await you in Istanbul.