Sunday, November 23, 2003
Who reviews?: When it came over the wires on Thursday, my jaw dropped. I'd been reading Bernie Goldberg's "Arrogance," and he recounted The New York Times' treatment of books by Christina Hoff Sommers, specifically "Who Stole Feminism?: How Women have Betrayed Women" and "The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men."
What was Goldberg's criticism of theTimes' book review? Well, in both instances, the Times' chosen reviewer was someone who had a vested interest in what Sommers had written. The reviewer for "Who Stole Feminism?" was a feminist professor who was the unnamed target of several of Sommers criticisms. The reviewer for "The War Against Boys" was one of that aforementioned professor's acolytes. (It turns out that the editor of the "Review of Books" was also a former student of that same professor.)
Goldberg's point was that the Times selection of those individuals to review Sommers work was hardly fair or ethical by what was once considered journalistic standards.
So, what's exactly came over the wire Thursday to cause my mandible to succumb to gravity? Well, the New York Review of Books has committed a similar outrage, selecting New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to review Molly Ivins' "Bushwacked" and Joe Conason's "Big Lies" in the latest edition.
Krugman's "review" is little more than the repetition of selected screeds in both books with a little of Krugman's own "amens" at appropriate points. In other words, a mildly talented, but specially trained monkey could have produced it.
I would suggest the Times would have been better served by having someone fair, such as Bryan Keefer, review such books.
However, since they appear to have no inclination to abide by journalistic standards of fairness at America's the New York Review of Books, I look forward to seeing Rich Lowry's "Legacy" reviewed by David Brooks.