New York Times on the Wall Street Journal: The Stove Pot Calling the Mixing Bowl Black

In what is certain to be the top hilarity story of the week, New York Times (NYT) columnist David Carr “thoughtfully” reveals what he sees as the drift to the right on the part of his company’s great rival, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), now well financed by Rupert Murdoch’s empire.

Carr admits the WSJ readership is on a growth binge, even at a time when subscriber numbers at every other daily paper—including the NYT itself—are imploding.

But, he says, sadly, growth has been achieved at the price of giving up the WSJ’s previous focus on business news and, horror of horrors, of abandoning editorial “objectivity.”

I can understand Carr’s distress at the way in which the  WSJ’s broadening news coverage is undermining the NYT monopoly of elite news coverage.  But the rest of us are delighted that we can now get from Murdoch’s WSJ not only solid news coverage but much, much more—book reviews of a quality that the NYT once commissioned; masterful art reviews on fine art instead of the silliest of the latest styles; and fun, if quirky, coverage of the sports industry.

The one thing still missing from the WSJ is good, solid coverage of the schoolhouse beat, desperately needed now that the NYT has transformed its education coverage into a steady ideological drumbeat against choice, standards and accountability.

So one cannot read Carr’s essay without “schadenfreude” at NYT distress at losing its monopoly. But what made the Carr essay especially outrageously hilarious is the window it opens on the NYT’s definition of “objectivity.”

Carr is shocked that the WSJ refuses to refer to health care legislative proposals as “health reform” and he is dumbfounded that its coverage focuses more on the costs of the legislation than its benefits. The NYT, he should have added, has never stooped to such lows.

That the WSJ has allowed global warming skeptics to air their views is another of its serious flaws. The NYT, I am pleased to report, has instead risen to new heights of objectivity in today’s paper by featuring, in color, a bleak Bolivian landscape that global warming seems to have destroyed. (The NYT-owned Boston Globe ran a similar photo and story in yesterday’s paper on the peat moss in the Arctic. Was this coincidence?)

Still, one has to congratulate the NYT for ignoring on its front page today President Barack Obama’s condemnation of Wall Street “fat cats,” instead quoting Mr. Obama as telling bankers they had a “special responsibility.” Sadly, the “fat cat” phrase hit the top left hand corner of the WSJ , but was buried on p. 23 of the NYT. Certainly, it was only the NYT’s penchant for objectivity—not a desire to protect a president from his own over-heated language—that explains the editorial judgment.

Thanks, Mr. Carr, for explaining just why I now first read the WSJ, then turn to the NYT to be entertained by the latest in sophisticated liberal spin. At that, your paper still cannot be beat. You can continue to count on a faithful, if diminishing audience.

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