"I don't believe in journalists having 'responsibility.'"
-Seth Lipsky, October 16, 2003

Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll demanded on August 20, 2003, that Washington "finish the war" against "the Arabs."

Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll assembled their staff for a Champagne toast to mass death on the commencement of hostilities against Iraq. Stoll called it "my war." CNN maintains a running update here of Americans killed in Ira's war.

On February 6, 2003, Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll wrote, in all seriousness, of a pending anti-war demonstration that the "the New York City police could do worse, in the end, than to allow the protest and send two witnesses along for each participant, with an eye toward preserving at least the possibility of an eventual treason prosecution."

The June 9, 1995 Wall Street Journal quoted an SEC complaint against New York Sun backer Bruce Kovner as saying Kovner had "altered and destroyed" subpoenaed evidence. We wish you'd do the same to the daily print run of your God-awful newspaper, Bruce.

Also, Professor G. Harlan Reynolds alleged on August 27, 2002 - when the Sun was several months in publication - that Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll had not yet paid him for a piece authored for their inaugural issue.

 
 
   
 
Thursday, August 01, 2002
 
IRA STOLL’S LOYA JIRGA

Ira Stoll’s got a bundle on Ahmed Chalabi in the current cockfight amongst the so-called Iraqi opposition. Today he cheers wildly for his pick in a sub-coherent piece that also attacks the State Department for failing to fully appreciate the moral and tactical splendors of Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. Stoll believes his effort “NEWS,” heading it similarly.

Blathering about “democracy,” a concept hated by New York Sun backers Bruce Kovner and Richard Gilder, Stoll talks about “the dangers the State Department faces as it tries to set up Iraqi opposition groups other than the primary, democratic umbrella opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress.” Obviously taking Kovner and Gilder’s line, democracy is best served by excluding as many groups as possible from the debate, particularly underfunded ones. Chalabi et al were given $98 million by William Jefferson Clinton, so much, in fact, that they lost millions of the dollars they were given. The new Iraqi National Movement was given just $315,000, Stoll tells us.

Never mind that neighboring countries are largely distrustful of Stoll’s beloved Iraqi National Congress and its leader Ahmed Chalabi (“autocratic and arrogant,” Boston Globe, March 11, 2002). Never mind that the INC comprises mainly Kurdish, Shiite and leftist groups. Never mind that each group may move to establish their own state on former Iraqi territory, necessitating our warring with them. Never mind that the INC itself “floundered under internal bickering, ideological and ethnic divisions” (AP: April 5, 1999). Never mind the current Sunni minority which rules Iraq is unlikely to accept the Shiite INC, and that Iraq is unlikely to accept anyone of America’s choosing. No, ignore all that. Ira’s just got a feeling about this. Everyone not named Chalabi, please vacate the tent.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002
 
In his own world, our friend Tim (a gentleman of Irish descent, and possessor of his people’s most debilitating tendency) is a successful businessman. In our world, however, he is a mere intern, responsible for faxing us our daily New York Sun. Recently, he has informed us that the Sun is not as easy to find as it once was (although even so the Sun was still not as easy to find as a copy of the Times, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Amsterdam News, Screw, or Flame Retardancy News). Perhaps because of its new web presence, could the Sun be scaling back the number of print issues it’s putting out? The Internet version of the Sun is certainly making life easier for Grady Olivier and myself, but this is still no reason for Tim to start slacking off; get back to work Tim, and let’s try to keep the blood alcohol levels below 0.1, OK?

The Sun’s website has been issuing three items per day, or roughly the number of ads the print edition has been running. (Although today’s paper carries a whopping 5, including yet another full-pager from the lovely people at Golden electronics, who either: 1.) genuinely believe that the Sun’s affluent white Republican target audience will rush to Union, NJ, to acquire their eMax computers for $799.97; or, 2.) know where they can buy full-page newspaper ads on the cheap.) Three articles may seem a paltry number, but three months into its life, the Sun still gets the majority of its pieces from the Daily Telegraph, Jerusalem Post, or the Associated Press, whose articles can be read on the internet anyway, so the Sun’s three IS IN FACT a large percentage of its original output as a whole, and is therefore quite generous.

Still, the website does not contain the Sun’s excellent page three photo of Ice-T getting kneed in the groin by his girlfriend Cocoa. You gotta drop the fifty small ones for that. Or get Tim to fax it to you.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002
 
Seth and Ira weren't the only stooges using the Pennsylvania miners as a parable for their demented fantasies. Colleagues at The Rittenhouse Review found an allied simp of the Sun's suffering some equally fevered hallucinations down Somerset way. Michael Novak dutifully read those 77 hours as a triumph of blue-collardom (indeed) and "classic conservative virtues." While the Review takes exception to Mr. Novak's insertion of conservative values into the narrative, we say they were there all along, though we note Mr. Novak's list - "intelligent, directing authority, compassion for one another, prayer, faith, trust, and pride in one another" - is incomplete. The arch conservative value, contempt for those beneath you, was absent in Mr. Novak's list but was in full evidence in the corporate offices of the Black Wolf Coal. It was stated plainly in the WSWS piece we linked to yesterday, and is elaborated upon by the AP today:

Nine miners were relying on a deliberately falsified map when they mistakenly broke through the wall of a flooded, abandoned mine, trapping themselves underground for 77 hours, a retired miner said yesterday.

The map used by the miners showed the other mine, abandoned in the 1950s, as being 300 feet away, state officials said shortly after the accident.


As noted in the WSWS piece, Black Wolf's niggardliness - another conservative value omitted from Mr. Novak's list - left the miners with 50-year-old maps and without precautionary seismic mapping or test hole drilling that would have compensated for the maps' age and inaccuracy.

Yes, it was a triumph of conservatism, insofar as the workingmen were exposed to danger and placed beneath contempt.

More later, provided we can actually find a copy of the New York Sun, a growing scarcity on the city's newsstands. As is, their spiffy new website only offers former Giuliani towelboy JP Avalon essentially decrying Red China in an updated form (i.e., celebrating the worthiness of one of Christopher Hitchens' yawn-worthy co-dependents/enablers).

Monday, July 29, 2002
 
Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll ride their hobby horses right up to the edge of the Quecreek mineshaft this morning, concluding that responsibility for the imperiling of the nine unfortunates lies with - brace yourselves - Connecticut Senator Lieberman and Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson. The two, after all, had registered public opposition to the wholly salubrious practice of strip mining, and had unelected president Bush been given free reign in disposing of strip mine waste in pristine valleys, the nine would not have been exposed to such dangers. Given the vacuity of the argument, I'd reckon Seth and Ira have some available space for deposit of strip mine waste sited between their ears.

Had the article appeared anywhere but the New York Sun, I'd have dismissed it as a lesser feat of intellectual cartwheeling. But intellectual cartwheeling presupposes possession of an intellect, and we see no evidence supporting possession of same by Lipsky and Stoll. After all, even the stupidest reporter would examine the proximate facts - you know, the things Seth and Ira have shown a remarkable aversion to (except in the instance of Palestine, when only the most immediate antecedents are to be factored into "thought"). Witness Philadelphia Inquirer scribe Ovetta Wiggins reporting back on July 26 that Black Wolf Coal, the company operating the Quecreek mine, had a lengthy history of violations:

Federal inspectors have cited Black Wolf Coal Co. 26 times since March 2001. According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), which inspects mines for safety standards, the company violated several regulations, including some designed to protect workers from falls and others that require the removal of coal dust from work areas.


Maybe the routine flouting of regulations could have contributed in some small measure? The AP's Judy Lin noted the same day that Black Wolf (its workers, actually) "avoided tragedy in October when a 30 foot-by-40-foot section of the mine roof collapsed. No one was injured." Ms. Lin's piece concerned the alleged "efficiency" of the company and its mine: "Despite its small size, having been open for only a year and a half and owning only one mine, Black Wolf Coal Co. was doing well." Though she doesn't pursue the line of inquiry, is it not possible that the reckless evasion of safety violations and operation at a faster tempo have had a bit more to do with the near-tragedy than the Backstreet Boys?

And when considering more distal causes, could not the assault on unionized labor have contributed, or is non-Manhattan-Institute-approved evidence inadmissable?


Also today, a Sun resident genius tells us that "Political Junkies [are] Hooked on 'The Note'." Gee, how many weeks back did you have to go in Romenesko's archives to find that one, Julia Levy?
 
And in addition to wasting newsprint, ink, and our time, the New York Sun now wastes Internet bandwith, data storage capacity, and processor time. The mess has gone online, allowing persons outside New York to see how quarter-assed an enterprise Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll are operating.

Sunday, July 28, 2002
 
"It's a bird! It's a plane!" No, its couch-questing Rachel Donadio crashing Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll's attempt at a newspaper into the ground by employing the most banal introduction imaginable. Young Rachel's tired words appeared in the New York Sun July 24, one day after Alicia Colon offered the fraction of a thought that moved Brad Olson to initiate the below correspondence. A few words here are in order.

Ms. Colon was kind enough to clarify (affirm, actually) her point in the piece, surprising considering the extremely rough usage we have put her to in the past. Her civility and willingness to dialogue are appreciated, though the content of her column is not. Ms. Colon's problem is with the "sacred cow of choice" which slashed birthrates to sub-replacement levels. The same "sacred cow" also allowed women to transcend mere biological function, though that "sacred cow" is but one of many things contributing to lower rates of birth. Ms. Colon presumably has a problem with aggregation of wealth, urbanization, improved hygiene, increased educational attainment for women, the opening of labor markets, and Enlightenment. The message for the womenfolk among our readers, then, is to remove your shoes immediately and get cookin' and birthin', but only after repairing those glass ceilings you so carelessly damaged.

As an aside, many of the above trends also account for driving our current expectation of life at birth to current heights. One wonders if Ms. Colon grows bitter at meeting people who've survived more than 30 years.

Returning to Wednesday's assault on common sense and established journalistic standards, the Sun finally gets around to addressing Louis Farrakhan's denial of the statements attributed to him in the Sun and elsewhere. That seemingly omnipresent anonymous "Staff Reporter of the Sun" merely notes Farrakhan's denial without even attempting a reckoning of what was actually said, for doing so would likely undercut the prejudice that moved Seth and Ira to waste resources and newsprint on so petty a pursuit. As Jude Wanniski noted after the furor's initial eruption, Farrakhan records each and every public pronouncement so as to avoid misquotation. A real newspaper would have secured a transcript, settling the matter decisively, but we're not dealing with a real newspaper here. Seth and Ira - no Warner Wolfs, they - just move on.

The most facile method of "press criticism" involves locating spelling errors in a paper. We will therefore not mention Wednesday's Steve Olson/Steve Olsen (no relation to our own Brad Olson) mix-up.

Thursday saw J.P. Avalon refusing to relinquish his position as Rudy Giuliani's shoeshine boy, as well as the politicized presentation of factual matters. Again. Timothy Starks noted that "Individual Accounts Would Boost Wall St., But Timing's a Problem." Amazing. The more obvious question concerns the benefit to the proposed account holders, and level heads suggest that benefit less than nil. Even more amazing than the myopic and one-sided conception of the proposal is the fact that Friday Andrew Sullivan was again dragooned into service arguing that Robert Rubin essentially created a stock market bubble. The bottom having fallen out and equities returning to reasonable valuations, the Sun's editors can only apprehend the demented scheme to privatize Social Security as a means to inflate the Dow.

There are many valid criticisms to be brought against Rubin. Sullivan provides precisely none of them, his column being just another compilation of grievance and display of dirty laundry. This brand of "journalism" has its audience. It also has its debunkers, who do a masterful job taking it apart.

 

 
   
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