Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of the New York Times Means for America
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In Gray Lady Down, the hard-hitting follow up to Coloring the News, William McGowan asks who is responsible for squandering the finest legacy in American journalism. Combining original reporting, critical assessment and analysis, McGowan exposes the Times’ obsessions with diversity, “soft” pop cultural news, and countercultural Vietnam-era attitudinizing, and reveals how these trends have set America’s most important news icon at odds with its journalistic mission—and with the values and perspectives of much of mainstream America.
Gray Lady Down considers the consequences—for the Times, for the media, and, most important, for American society and its political processes at this fraught moment in our nation’s history. In this highly volatile media environment, the fate of the Times may portend the future of the fourth estate.
vendors selling knock-offs are African illegals. Births to foreign-born women in the United States are at their highest rate ever, nearly one in four. As the Christian Science Monitor has written, some experts worry that the traditional rapid assimilation of immigrants maybe breaking down, with potentially troublesome consequences. Muslim immigration has brought its own set of concerns for assimilation to American norms. Based on a study of immigrants from the Middle East, Steven Camarota,
people who broke the law to get here is going to involve some pain. But constantly harping on that does not encourage compassion. One reason why the Times’ immigration reporting sounds so off is the success of lobbying groups such as the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. There’s also anxiety about “feeding a backlash” against poor Third Worlders. But scorn for patriotism—not nationalism or jingoism, but patriotism—is certainly a factor too, along with an agenda to deconstruct the
these streets faithfully.” But the problem at the Times was greater than the taste of the editors it hired. As the current editor Bill Keller has said, the Times puts out a daily newspaper “plus about 15 weekly magazines,” meaning the various freestanding sections in the paper. These fiefdoms are more and more devoted to lifestyle and less to news per se. With a revived Style section appearing on both Sunday and Thursday, plus Home and Arts sections, and magazine sections on fashion and design,
wanted to get to the top. Yet everyone knew this was not true. “The cousins,” as Arthur Jr. and his immediate relatives working for the paper were called, were objects of a solicitude that would undermine frank, open relations based on workplace equality. No matter what nods to merit were made publicly, almost everyone at the Times knew that a member of the Sulzberger clan was going to run the paper. With the coming of the 1980s, that person looked increasingly to be Arthur Sulzberger Jr. In
if the country wanted Bush to be candid about his mistakes, “we should be equally open about our own.” The Times had not listened carefully enough to people with dissident points of view, the editorial continued. “Our certainty flowed from the fact that such an overwhelming majority of government officials, past and present, top intelligence officials and other experts were sure that the weapons were there.... We had a groupthink of our own.” These mea culpas were careful to insist that the