Monday, January 23, 2006

Mr Pot? I have a kettle for you on line 2

After a long absence, Eytan Kobre returns to Cross Currents today with an absurd post about newspapers, a post in which he rips the New York Times for everything up to and including sunspots.

The fusillade begins because when Eytan spots an editing error. Then, not content with a legitimate gripe, Eytan goes full throttle: The underwear ads are no good. Their publisher is too sensitive and too much the humanist. Oh, and the Time's corrections column doesn't confess error as boldly as Rabba once did. Yes, he means Rabba from the Talmud. Was he also patron saint of newsmen?

As the column's absurdity intensifies, Kobre carries on as if these "problems" are unique to the Times; yet are they? Sure, the paper runs underwear ads next to articles which describe great human tragedies, but so would any newspaper. Sure, the browbeating in the Times' corrections column is mild next to Rabba's exquisite self-effacement, but does any newspaper make its confessions unambiguously? Every paper makes mistakes as the ample and daily correction column at the WSJ testifies.

His many and elaborate descriptions of the Time's staff as "sensitive humanists" tempts me to dismiss the whole thing as satire or as just another cheap shop. Still, I can't ignore the possibility that Eytan Kobre is too deep in the grips of right-wing propaganda to see that the absurd accusations he's directs at one paper apply equally to them all.