Media mergers

There is speculation that if the New York Times or Washington Post
continue to lose money at their current rate (as of early 2009)
that one or both might actually have to go out of business.
Here’s a thought:
How about a merger of the two?
I am not a professional media observer,
but to a naïve observer
both the range and style of coverage of the two are quite similar,
as are their editorial stances.
It would hardly be a culture clash.
How much money would be saved is a question.
I know many readers read both,
so the circulation of the merged paper would be somewhat less than
merely the sum of the two paper’s separate circulations,
but surely the savings in reporting and editorial staff would be considerable:
the merged staff would need to be only slightly larger than
that of either one alone.

Finally, what to call the merged company?
How about the Grahamberger?

Labels: ,


Media figures

Maureen Dowd

Debating 'Character' to the Bitter End
New York Times, 1992-10-18


Mr. Bush and Mr. Quayle are right that character matters.
But Republicans are not getting any traction on the character issue
because they are defining it in an outdated way
and because the attacks are hollow,
only serving to remind voters that
Mr. Bush is having trouble running on his record.

Within President Bush's argument about character is buried his fatal flaw:

He has always seemed to think he should be President
because he had the right breeding, the right resume and the right character
to serve as a careful steward of the country,
not because he had ideas he wanted to implement.

And what the public is saying is that, in a year of economic crisis,
concern and performance may be the most important tests of character.
W. Regrets Almost Nothing
New York Times Op-Ed, 2008-06-15

[The conclusion of the op-ed; emphasis is added.]

On the illicit rush to war, W. ne regrette rien.
He reiterated a rhetorical sop to those who yearn for a scintilla of remorse,
telling The Times of London that
his gunslinging talk made him seem like a “guy really anxious for war,”
and that phrases like “dead or alive” and “bring them on”
“indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace.”

The Bushes have a hard time with
the connective tissue between words and actions.
In this case, the words, while dime-store Western, were not the problem.
The actions were the problem.
W. was really anxious for war.

He felt that if he could change Middle East history,
he could jump out of his father’s shadow forever.

A Democratic lawmaker who saw the president in the Oval Office recently
and urged him to bring the troops home from Iraq
quickly recounted that W. got a stony look and replied that

41 had abandoned the Iraqis and thousands got slaughtered.
“I will never do that to them,” 43 said.

Sounds like Oedipal déjà vu all over again.

[Maureen Dowd seems to operate in a region of pure fiction, pure speculation,
pure amateur psychoanalysis.

Consider, for example, her statement that
“He felt that if he could change Middle East history,
he could jump out of his father’s shadow forever.”

There is plenty of evidence that Bush-43
did indeed desire to “change Middle East history”:
both the fact that the invasion he ordered did indeed change Middle East history
and the numerous news articles and books, published both before and after the war,
that stated that that was a primary objective.
[E.g. WSJ-2003-03-21]

But here is something that Ms. Dowd totally ignores:
Many of those reports state clearly that
the desire to “transform the Middle East”
(“drain the swamps of Islamic radicalism” in some formulations)
was being expressed by
extremely powerful figures in finance, politics, and the media,
many of whom had close ties to the Israeli right.
How can Ms. Dowd ignore all those reports
and assert to her readers that
the sole reason for Bush’s words and actions was so that
“he could jump out of his father’s shadow forever.”?]

On Safire
New York Times, 2009-09-30

[This was written in honor of William Safire on the occasion of his death.
It concludes (emphasis is added):]

[Safire] would have appreciated the fact that his obits ran on Yom Kippur.
He had a famous dinner every year at his home in Chevy Chase, Md.,
to break the fast that gathered many of the city’s most influential players.

Curious, I pestered him for years for an invite.
He patiently explained it was just for Jews
or people who were, or had been, married to Jews.

After years of pleading, including many protestations that
I had had Jewish boyfriends and that
I would one day find a Jewish husband,
he broke down and let me come.

He was a mensch. And that’s no mishegoss.

[Dowd’s writings over the years
have often seemed to me to reflect
a strong desire to please the Jewish mainstream.
Perhaps her comment, just quoted, was a bit of hyperbole to honor Safire.
But there is no reason to believe it is hyperbole—
why couldn’t it be her true thoughts?
If so, it certainly explains a lot of what she has written.
And also, it might provide exemplification of a saying I heard in college:
It’s not who you know, it’s who you blow.”]

Defending the Long Gay Line
New York Times, 2010-02-03
Poppy Chic
New York Times, 2012-06-10
It was only because W. used his father as a reverse playbook that it was possible to see 41’s “failures” in a rosier light.
Cutting taxes, exploding the deficit and invading Baghdad
made Poppy’s opposite efforts, hotly debated at the time,
seem wiser.

“Their historical stock is on a seesaw,” Meacham said.
“They both can’t be up at the same time.”

Because his son tacked so much farther right into crazy neocon bellicosity, Poppy —
whose campaign evoked Willie Horton —
is now nostalgically viewed as an emblem of lost bipartisanship and centrism.

Thomas Friedman

As Ugly as It Gets
New York Times Op-Ed, 2010-05-26

I confess that when I first saw the May 17 picture of Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, joining his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with raised arms — after their signing of a putative deal to defuse the crisis over Iran’s nuclear weapons program — all I could think of was: Is there anything uglier than watching democrats sell out other democrats to a Holocaust-denying, vote-stealing Iranian thug just to tweak the U.S. and show that they, too, can play at the big power table?

No, that’s about as ugly as it gets.


Charles Krauthammer

How to Stop Putin
By Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post, 2008-08-14

[An excerpt.]

What is to be done? Let’s be real. There’s nothing to be done militarily.
What we can do is alter Putin’s cost-benefit calculations.

We are not without resources.
There are a range of measures to be deployed
if Russia does not live up to its cease-fire commitments:


We have cards. We should play them. Much is at stake.

[Krauthammer makes no mention whatsoever of
how Russia could respond to any pressure we might apply to it.
Failure to warn his readers of what he is trying to lure Americans into
is the mark of a biased commentator.
One can only wonder why he is such a one-sided advocate of
a policy which would do America far more harm than good.
(Actually, there is a fairly clear answer to that question,
but it cannot be proved and would make some people very unhappy
if I should mention it.)]

The Settlements Myth
By Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post, 2009-06-05

President Obama repeatedly insists that American foreign policy be conducted with modesty and humility. Above all, there will be no more “dictating” to other countries. We should “forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions,” he told the G-20 summit. In Middle East negotiations, he told al-Arabiya, America will henceforth “start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating.”

An admirable sentiment. It applies to everyone -- Iran, Russia, Cuba, Syria, even Venezuela. Except Israel. Israel is ordered to freeze all settlement activity. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton imperiously explained the diktat: “a stop to settlements -- not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions.”

What’s the issue? No “natural growth” means strangling to death the thriving towns close to the 1949 armistice line, many of them suburbs of Jerusalem, that every negotiation over the past decade has envisioned Israel retaining. It means no increase in population. Which means no babies. Or if you have babies, no housing for them -- not even within the existing town boundaries. Which means for every child born, someone has to move out. No community can survive like that. The obvious objective is to undermine and destroy these towns -- even before negotiations.

To what end? Over the past decade, the U.S. government has understood that any final peace treaty would involve Israel retaining some of the close-in settlements -- and compensating the Palestinians accordingly with land from within Israel itself.

That was envisioned in the Clinton plan in the Camp David negotiations in 2000, and again at Taba in 2001. After all, why expel people from their homes and turn their towns to rubble when, instead, Arabs and Jews can stay in their homes if the 1949 armistice line is shifted slightly into the Palestinian side to capture the major close-in Jewish settlements, and then shifted into Israeli territory to capture Israeli land to give to the Palestinians?

This idea is not only logical, not only accepted by both Democratic and Republican administrations for the past decade, but was agreed to in writing in the letters of understanding exchanged between Israel and the United States in 2004 -- and subsequently overwhelmingly endorsed by a concurrent resolution of Congress.

Yet the Obama State Department has repeatedly refused to endorse these agreements or even say it will honor them. This from a president who piously insists that all parties to the conflict honor previous obligations. And who now expects Israel to accept new American assurances in return for concrete and irreversible Israeli concessions, when he himself has just cynically discarded past American assurances.

The entire “natural growth” issue is a concoction. Is the peace process moribund because a teacher in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem is making an addition to her house to accommodate new grandchildren? It is perverse to make this the center point of the peace process at a time when Gaza is run by Hamas terrorists dedicated to permanent war with Israel and when Mahmoud Abbas, having turned down every one of Ehud Olmert’s peace offers, brazenly declares that he is in a waiting mode -- waiting for Hamas to become moderate and for Israel to cave -- before he’ll do anything to advance peace.

In his much-heralded “Muslim world” address in Cairo yesterday, Obama declared that the Palestinian people’s “situation” is “intolerable.” Indeed it is, the result of 60 years of Palestinian leadership that gave its people corruption, tyranny, religious intolerance and forced militarization; leadership that for three generations rejected every offer of independence and dignity, choosing destitution and despair rather than accept any settlement not accompanied by the extinction of Israel.

That’s why Haj Amin al-Husseini chose war rather than a two-state solution in 1947. Why Yasser Arafat turned down a Palestinian state in 2000. And why Abbas rejected Olmert’s even more generous December 2008 offer.

In the 16 years since the Oslo accords turned the West Bank and Gaza over to the Palestinians, their leaders built no roads, no courthouses, no hospitals, none of the fundamental state institutions that would relieve their people’s suffering. Instead they poured everything into an infrastructure of war and terror, all the while depositing billions (from gullible Western donors) into their Swiss bank accounts.

Obama says he came to Cairo to tell the truth. But he uttered not a word of that. Instead, among all the bromides and lofty sentiments, he issued but one concrete declaration of new American policy: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements,” thus reinforcing the myth that Palestinian misery and statelessness are the fault of Israel and the settlements.

Blaming Israel and picking a fight over “natural growth” may curry favor with the Muslim “street.” But it will only induce the Arab states to do like Abbas: sit and wait for America to deliver Israel on a platter. Which makes the Obama strategy not just dishonorable but self-defeating.

[For a partial reply to these assertions of Krauthammer, see
The Settlements Facts by Daniel Kurtzer from the 2009-06-14 WP.]

Charles Lane

From the Washington Post’s biography of Mr. Lane:

Charles M. Lane is an editorial writer for The Post,
specializing in economic policy, trade, energy and globalization.

Lane joined The Post in 2000,
first as an editorial writer and then as a Supreme Court reporter.
He rejoined the editorial board in 2007.
He served as editor and senior editor of The New Republic from 1993 to 1999
and was a foreign correspondent for Newsweek from 1987 to 1993.
He contributed to the book “Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know,”
edited by Roy Gutmann and David Rieff
and in 1992 was awarded a Citation for Excellence from the Overseas Press Club.

Lane is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Let us now see what some other people have said of Mr. Lane’s past writings.

By Daniel R. Vining, Reply by Charles Lane
In response to The Tainted Sources of 'The Bell Curve'
New York Review of Books Letter to the Editor, 1995-03-23

Ruth Marcus

Unfit for Majority Leader
By Ruth Marcus
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2006-11-15


If [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] gets her way and helps Murtha win
a come-from-behind victory against Maryland’s Steny Hoyer
in tomorrow’s leadership election,

she’s buying herself -- and the Democratic caucus --
endless news stories about Murtha’s ethics.


[“[E]ndless news stories about Murtha’s ethics”?
Even if, henceforth, his ethical standards were as pure as Snow White?

I think the clear message here concerns not Murtha’s ethics
but his stance against perpetual American war,
which is exactly counter to what the Post’s editorial board, on which Marcus sites, desires.
I think the Post in this case, as in many others,
is making sure that
those who might get in the way of the interests of Israel,
and to some extent the feminists,

Dana Milbank

Pronouncing Blame on the Israel Lobby
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post, 2006-08-29

Sorry We Asked, Sorry You Told
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post, 2008-07-24

Third-Party Candidates Choose Clown Makeup Over Pig Lipstick
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post, 2008-09-11

For 12 in D.C., That First Vote Is a Doozy
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post, 2008-10-22

Madoff Private Eye Has the Action --
Now All He Needs Are the Lights and the Camera

By Dana Milbank
Washington Post, 2009-02-05

[This article featured the following picture of Harry Markopolos,
with the caption as shown.]

"Dirty Harry" Markopolos
may soon be telling his story on the big screen.

Harry Markopolos,
the derivatives whiz and private investigator
who uncovered the Bernie Madoff scandal,
came straight from central casting:
geeky, with too-big glasses and a prominent comb-over.
[That’s right Dana, put the focus on what is significant about Mr. Markopolos.]
When he spoke,
it was in the vocabulary of a man who had watched a lot of detective movies.


Thus did Harry Markopolos of Boston establish himself as
a next-generation Dirty Harry --
a derivatives industry vigilante,
part Lt. Columbo,
part Adrian Monk,
with a dash of "Dragnet" and "Lethal Weapon" sprinkled throughout his testimony.

[It is writing like that that firmly establishes Mr. Milbank as
the Maureen Dowd of the Washington Post.
I have to admit,
I had no idea who Adrian Monk is or was
until I Googled the name.]

Markopolos’s demeanor could make it easy to dismiss him as an eccentric,
and the SEC apparently did,
paying him no attention
as he presented evidence to them for years of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
But Markopolos was right, and now he’s telling his story --
yesterday, to Congress,
and soon, you can bet, at a theater near you.

[Thus does Milbank read Markopolos’s mind
and divine his motivations and future ambitions.]

Feeling farther from the finish
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post, 2009-11-23


But then last week, in one cruel and clumsy blow,
a federal task force wiped out much of the progress.


The problem is less the science behind the recommendations than
the cloddish way the panel has rolled them out....

And yet Obama can’t fire the members of the task force:
They’re independent and unaccountable.

Many oncologists, no doubt,
would like to send Calonge and his colleagues off to Gitmo,
where they could live out their years
happily denying one another cancer screenings.
Luckily, Congress has a simpler solution at hand:
It can abolish the task force and turn it into
a group that is more accountable to the public.
Under the House version of health-care legislation,
the task force, whose members need not subject themselves or their opinions
to public comment or public hearings,
would be reorganized as a federal advisory committee subject to oversight.
Their scientific judgments would stay independent,
but the group would no longer be able to
go rogue with surprise recommendations.

[This is a clear case of killing the messenger.
The group whose statements Milbank is so unhappy with in fact had no power.
It was merely making public its views on an issue of general interest.
No one is saying the members of the group lacked appropriate credentials
on the subject at hand.
No one has made the slightest accusation that they stood to gain personally
if their recommendations were adopted
(in contrast to Milbank's oncologists, whose income would be affected).
And what’s this about “surprise recommendations”?
Is there something wrong with that?
Milbank’s criticism is cheap, cheap, cheap.
One must wonder why he is so critical of the panel.]

Mr. Cantor declines to comment
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2010-04-04


That’s a shame, because [Eric] Cantor is one of the few figures
who, during this Passover season, could lead us all out of this wilderness.
As Jews, we know better than most
the consequences of ignoring and wishing away hate speech....

[Over the years, I have noticed that, down the line,
Mr. Milbank has seemed to me to go out of his way
to express extreme positions of political correctness,
to attack anyone who expressed contrary views
or suggested that American support for Israel might be due, in large part,
to the efforts of American Jews, and, surprisingly,
to ridicule Harry Markopolos and thus defend
those who refused to take his warnings about
the prominent Jewish philanthropist Bernard Madoff seriously.
I wondered if Milbank was Jewish.
Evidently he is.
Does this prove anything? No.]