You have to laugh at the Jayson Blair scandal. A young African-American reporter on the New York Times has been found to have lied again and again, without being fired – apparently for reasons of “affirmative action,” compounded by Times Editor Howell Raines' “white Southern guilt.”
Blair not only made things up, and plagiarized, but he lied about his whereabouts, telling editors he was calling from Virginia and Maryland, when he was still in New York.
The scandal has led people to recall the NYT's mendacious record on both Stalin and Castro. But it 's also worthwhile recalling the story behind New York Times v. Sullivan, the famous 1964 Supreme Court decision that effectively rewrote libel law for American public figures.
Sullivan has been cited as a prime example of “judicial realism” – the cynical view that judges just make up their minds and then adjust the law to fit their personal vision of how things should be.
In Sullivan, the “Committee to Defend Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Freedom in the South” was sued by a white southern public official, L. B. Sullivan. He contended that he had been defamed by an ad in the New York Times, which became a co-defendant. [See the original ad, PDF, JPG].
Justice William Brennan said in the decision that “It is uncontroverted that some of the statements contained in the two paragraphs were not accurate descriptions of events which occurred in Montgomery.”
Which is to say that the statements weren't true.
The advertisement was signed by Hollywood stars, and also by several black clergymen in the South (who said that they had not authorized the use of their names.)
But “Judicial Realism” meant that there was simply no darned way that the Supreme Court was going to rule for a white Southern segregationist, and against the Civil Rights Movement. Justice Brennan decreed public figures had to prove “actual malice” , i.e. that the untruths were deliberate. This “Actual Malice Standard,” combined with later decisions that made almost anyone in the news a “public figure”, effectively meant the end of libel protection in the United States.
This is a good thing for those of us who like to criticize politicians. But it cuts both ways: the SPLC can call VDARE.COM all the names it wants. And the reviewers of Alien Nation and The Bell Curve obviously didn't feel “chilled” by the possibility of a libel suit.
Now, I don't think that the government should be in the business of enforcing the truth. Blogger Jeff Jarvis views with alarm the fact that the U.S. Attorney is looking into the Jayson Blair case. (I'm sure it would be possible to call Blair's conduct “fraud.”) Someone has even suggested suing the Times on a class-action theory. Tsk tsk.
But it's fascinating to see the Times suffering the consequences of affirmative action, a system it has defended, and tried to deny using in this case. (Possibly because affirmative action is illegal.)
And you have to wonder: why is it OK the New York Times to lie but not its employee?
Finally, lest we forget: there's one young reporter whose name we don't know, who hasn't been mentioned in any report of the Blair scandal. That's the young reporter Jesse Helms was anticipating in his famous “white hands” ad; [watch].
The young reporter who needed a job, but they “had to give it to a minority. Is that really fair?”
The young reporter displaced by Jayson Blair may be better off working on the city desk at the Toledo Blade – or, more probably, outside the media business altogether- than working in New York for the “paper of record.”
But neither this invisible victim nor the nation he might have served will ever know.
Reference the above piece using this permanent URL: /articles/the-son-of-sullivan-and-the-invisible-victim#son
18 illegal aliens just lost their lives when their smuggler drove off and left them locked in a trailer compartment in the Texas heat. One was five years old.
Some people don't blame the smugglers. According to the New York Times,
"'This is not entirely the fault of the smugglers, though they are certainly unsavory people,' said Rogelio Nuñez, director of Proyecto Libertad, a legal services organization for illegal immigrants in Harlingen, Tex. 'This incident and others like it have come about because harsher U.S. policies toward the border has made it more difficult for people to come across, [VDARE.COM note: i.e. illegally] increasing the risks they're willing to take.'"
["Trapped in Heat in Texas Truck, 18 People Die," By Simon Romero and David Barboza, May 15, 2003,]
Bunk. It's not the harshness of border controls that makes people take risks, it's the size of the taxpayer-funded reward,
"Moral hazard" is the insurance industries term for putting temptation in people's way by allowing them to insure something for more than it's worth.
If your house is worth $50,000 if you sell it, and $250,000 if you burn it, you may be tempted to the legally hazardous and physically dangerous expedient of arson. That will endanger not only you, but the people next door. The insurance company would be partly responsible.
That's why insurance companies go out of their way to avoid rewarding crime.
The United States government gives many rewards to illegals who can make it across the border.
The problem is that they have to risk their lives to gain this, crossing through some of the worst desert in world, at the mercy of gangsters who may rob them, or (as in this case) abandon them to their deaths.
If the U.S. government would stop rewarding border crossers, and deport them after they made it through, then perhaps they would be inspired stay home and build a better life for themselves in Mexico - which needs them more than the United States does.
Reference the above piece using this permanent URL: /articles/the-son-of-sullivan-and-the-invisible-victim#moral
In line with the media custom that immigrants are only victims, never criminals, Laurie Johnson reports on Houston Public radio [Listen to audio] that the driver who allegedly abandoned them was Tyrone Williams, a "lawful resident alien from Jamaica," but the station's website headline reads Smuggling Suspect has Houston Tie
Why not "Smuggling Suspect Has Immigration Policy Tie?"
And the "paper of record?" It referred to him only as "Tyrone Williams of Schenectady, N.Y."
You can trust the Times, can't you?
Reference the above piece using this permanent URL: /articles/the-son-of-sullivan-and-the-invisible-victim#smuggling