The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, June 06, 2005

New York Times' Okrent is a flake - who knew?

Well, assiduous readers of this blog, for - well, one or two. It's taken a little while - and the Okrent/Krugman chick fight [1] - for the idea to spread...

The first controversy that arose on Okrent's watch (that I was aware of) was that of Peter Landesman's The Girls Next Door piece on sex slaves in the US done for the NYT Magazine.

When Okrent finally gave his opinion on the matter, I summarised it thus:
The tone of Okrent's piece, it seems to me, is one of weary condescension towards all those concerned, both inside the Times and out...

Okrent supposes Landesman's critics are looking for pie in the sky, whereas all they're interested in - I think - is straight answers to some reasonable questions.

This being the real world, a lot of those answers may be unsatisfactory; Okrent seems to be doubting whether the questions need be taken at all seriously.

Which, from someone in his position, is rather disappointing. (Understatement.)

That was on February 29 2004.

By May 1 2004, there was a piece headed What's up with Daniel Okrent? which included the following:
One characteristic of Okrent is his facility with Mandarin prose - to formulate comments which, at first glance, appear relevant and cogent, but, in fact, are carefully calibrated to miss their ostensible target.

Relevance and cogency became increasingly low priorities as time went by!

Like that regular slot for Elisabeth Bumiller and her White House Notes, Okrent was a choice of NYT management; in his case, as a means of deflecting and disarming the critical missiles with which the Gray Lady was being bombarded following the Jayson Blair farrago.

Not to end criticism of the rag - that was never going to happen - but to drive such criticism off the front pages (of competitors!) and safely down into the swamps where the media commentariat and pajamahadeen skulk largely unmolested by most Times readers.

My sense is that that plan is very much mission accomplished.

  1. See Bob Somerby passim for last fortnight or so. I have an idea that Somerby was among Okrent's early detractors, but I'm not motivated to check right now.

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