Hiding From Criticism At The New York Times
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Kausfiles has a piece about General Motors trying to reply to an attack on them by the New York Times's Thomas Friedman, who said, according to GM, that "GM is "more dangerous to America's future" than any other company, is "like a crack dealer" addicting helpless Americans to SUVs, and is in a cabal with Ford and DaimlerChrysler to buy votes in Congress." (I'm willing to take GM's word for it, the Friedman piece is behind the much-ridiculed TimesSelect subscription wall.)

Mickey Kaus writes

The Gray Princess: Once again the Internet empowers the little guy with a blog to take on entrenched citadels of previously unchecked power! In this case, the little guy is the General Motors Corporation. I'm not saying GM has effectively used its web site to make the NYT letters editors look like self-protective twits of the sort you might expect would wind up editing the New York Times letters section. But I'm not saying they haven't! ... Does NYT Editorial Page Editor Gail Collins really object to the use of the word "rubbish"? She never seemed like the delicate type. Does Thomas Friedman (to whose column GM was objecting) need that kind of insulation? Who checks his mattresses for peas? ...

In fact, this is the official policy of the New York Times letters to the editor page.

I was a little shocked to read in February, last year, via That Liberal Media, that NYT ombudsman Daniel Okrent had admitted that

Beyond that, many of the paper's readers find certain practices and policies regarding letters either dumbfounding or objectionable. Chief among these is the paper's general hesitance to publish letters that make accusations against The Times, criticize writers or editors, or otherwise call into question the newspaper's fairness, news judgment or professional practices.

As letters editor Thomas Feyer points out, The Times does occasionally print correspondence of this sort. But he also notes his unwillingness to publish criticisms of individual writers, and a reluctance to publish letters that suggest bias. "Such letters," he says, "seem to impute motives to reporters or to The Times that the letter writers have no way to know." [When the Readers Speak Out, Can Anyone Hear Them? By DANIEL OKRENT, Feb 20, 2005]

Okrent, who wasn't given any actual authority to reform the paper, said that while he understood "the policy that keeps out assaults aimed at specific writers" he would "make an exception for columnists, who pick their own fights."

I asked Peter Brimelow if the Times had given him any trouble over replying to the attack on him by the late A. M. Rosenthal, in which Rosenthal imputed his own motives

Just a few words, no more needed, about that British-born immigrant???Peter Brimelow is his name, I remember now. His book is much too farbissen, my mother's Yiddish word for embittered, to be of value. Save time and money by reading instead Ira Glasser's seven-paragraph letter in The Times of June 16 about his racism—a masterpiece of intellectual demolition.

That British immigrant really must go home. Mercy extends just so far.[On My Mind; Arianna, Go Home! June 20, 1995]

Peter said that they actually gave him less trouble than the Wall Street Journal, and they printed his reply which appears below. It must be that the New York Times hated him less than the WSJ did.

To the Editor:

Ira Glasser, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, in a personal attack on me (letter, June 16) seconded by A. M. Rosenthal (column, June 20), purports to prove his charge of racism through selected quotations from my book "Alien Nation: Common Sense about America's Immigration Disaster."

Cardinal Richelieu claimed that he could find something to hang the most honest man in six lines written by him.

But despite the best efforts of Mr. Glasser, the 16 quotations he has carefully winnowed and arranged have this unfortunate characteristic:

They are all entirely true.

For example, it is a fact that the American nation has always had a specific, white, ethnic core.

It is a fact that the 1965 immigration law dramatically skewed immigration toward the third world.

It is a fact that public policy is now making the United States a multiracial society.

It is a fact that there is no precedent for a sovereign country undergoing such a rapid and radical transformation of its ethnic character.

And it is a fact that race is destiny in American politics, in the entirely empirical sense that here, unlike Europe, political allegiances are generally determined by ethnicity, not class.

Mr. Glasser and Mr. Rosenthal make no attempt to deny these facts. They simply decree that any mention of them is anathema.

This is an extraordinary attitude to truth, which must be rejected by anyone concerned with honest public debate.

It is also a fact that my little son, Alexander, has blue eyes and blond hair.

I mention this only once in a book of 275 pages, but both Mr. Glasser and Mr. Rosenthal are sufficiently outraged to highlight it in, respectively, a letter of 425 words and a column that is shorter than it seems.

The passion he has innocently provoked is an example of the blind hysteria that for 30 years has made impossible the rational discussion of America's out-of-control immigration policy.

PETER BRIMELOW New York, June 21, 1995


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