Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Trolling for liberals: There was this trucker who stopped at a diner somewhere in the Midwest. As he walked in the diner, some of the other truckers and a few locals sniffed the air and looked at him oddly. After he sat down and ordered, a couple of men came up to him and asked:
"Are you a nerd?"
"No," replied the trucker. "Why do you ask?"
"Because you smell like a nerd," the local replied.
"Oh, that's probably because of the load I'm hauling -- computers," the trucker said.
"Good. Because we shoot nerds around here."
"You shoot nerds?"
"Yes, there are so many of them around, we have a hunting season -- they're currently in season and there's no limit."
After consuming his meal, the trucker got back on the highway. A few miles down the road his rig jack-knifed and the computers he was carrying flew across the road.
All of the sudden nerds appeared everywhere, grabbing computers and running off with them.
The trucker jumped back into his rig, pulled out his shotgun and started shooting them.
A few minutes later, a highway patrol officer came by and told him to stop shooting.
"But, those are nerds and they're in season," the trucker said.
"Yes," the officer acknowledged, "but you can't bait them."
You know, I knew before I even posted the Krugman/Kristof item below that the statement about the New York Times editorial page was debatable. Several have pointed out that The Wall Street Journal is as partisan on the other side. However, if you put them up, side-by-side, the Times is still the more partisan.
The Times' lone "conservative" is William Safire. A "conservative" who voted for Bill Clinton over George H.W. Bush. Safire is really a moderate. He only looks conservative nowadays because everyone else on the page is so far to the left. Take Safire and put him on the staff of National Review or The Weekly Standard, two conservative magazines, and he becomes the most liberal member of the staff. Put Paul Krugman on the staff of The Nation and the paper's ideology doesn't shift a whisker.
The Journal has Al Hunt. The Journal rarely publishes Hunt's columns on its Web site, but they appear in the print version weekly. Hunt, who also appears on CNN's "The Capitol Gang" as one of the program's liberal voices, is pretty solidly on the left end of the political spectrum.
Of course, this is all a matter of opinion. It's debatable. I'm not going to convince Tapped's readers. And they aren't going to convince mine.
Of course, I found Tapped's post on this whole issue amusing, on two fronts.
First, for most people, pointing to the Journal's editorial page would have been enough to make the point. But, Tapped, in an effort to further bolster its case, points to The Washington Times as another major newspaper whose pagers are dominated by conservative bias. I don't disagree that they're conservative, I do disagree that they're a "major newspaper." The Washington Times circulation, according to the figures posted on the newsroom bulletin board is just over 100,000 daily. (For comparison, USA Today is #1 and The San Diego Union-Tribune, my employer, is 21st.) I used to work for the North County Times -- not a major newspaper -- it has (or did when I worked there) a daily circulation in the mid-90,000s.
I asked one of the editors at the Union-Tribune (not a conservative) if he thought The Washington Times was a "major" newspaper. He laughed and asked me: "Who said it was a major newspaper?" I replied, The American Prospect. He laughed again and said, "Well, I don't consider them a major magazine."
Second, Tapped asks this question:
Why should The New York Times be required to include a whole host of conservatives on its op-ed page? The op-ed page is where a paper nominally expresses its political opinions, and as you folks are always reminding us, the Times is indubitably a liberal paper. But if you think newspapers should, on principal, give equal time on their op-ed pages, you'd best include the Journal and The Washington Times in your litany of complaint.
Journalism 101 for Tapped: The editorial page is where a newspaper expresses its own political opinions. The op-ed (as in opposite editorial) page is typically where a variety of views are presented. At least, that's what I learned in J-School. That's how the Union-Tribune operates.
On an somewhat related note, only one person commented on most of the substance of the post which spurred this whole brouhaha.
Tristero, suggests that I owe Krugman a retraction because he found this quote from a June 6, Washington Post article:
"The Army now has 128,000 troops in Iraq, along with 15,000 British troops and a U.S. Marine contingent that is drawing down to about 7,000. An additional 45,000 Army troops are in Kuwait providing support. The Army contribution adds up to the equivalent of just over five divisions out of a total active-duty strength of 10 divisions."
Unfortunately Tristero, like many, needs to work on critical reading skills.
As far as counting the 45,000 Army troops in Kuwait providing "support," we can count them or not -- it really doesn't matter -- though Krugman says: "[M]ore than half of the U.S. Army's combat strength is now bogged down in Iraq..." so we shouldn't really count them.
But, no matter. If you add up the Army, the British and the Marines you get -- "the equivalent of just over five divisions." That's right, you take out the British and the Marines and, all of the sudden, you're under 50 percent. Under 50 percent isn't more than half.
Tristero also wrote this, which nearly had me fall out of my chair:
And, no offense, given the shoddy quality of your research and your thoroughly hysterical tone, I really don't think you're qualified for the Times just yet.
Geez, after reading Krugman's and Kristof's stuff, I thought those qualities would make me a perfect fit over at the Times.