Is killing the two top editorial generals of the New York Times an act
of Vigilance or another form of editorial Terrorism? You decide?
6, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 632
D-Day At The New York Times
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, New
York--June 6, 2003--Yesterday was D-Day for two top editors
of the New York Times. The battle was bloody,
as it was 59 years ago in Normandy when U.S. and allied
troops launched one of the world's greatest attacks on Terrorism.
... and Gerald Boyd, Managing Editor, resigned
Rains, NYTimes Executive Editor ...
At Omaha Beach, U.S. troops were pinned down by heavy German
fire as tens of thousands of American troops attempted to
drive back enemy forces. In the newsroom
of the New York Times yesterday, an assault on two of the
New York Times top generals was just as bloody in many ways.
Howell Rains, 60, the executive
editor, and Gerald M. Boyd, 52, the managing editor, resigned
as the shrapnel from editorial mismanagement of Jason Blair's
fraudulent reporting hit vital organs in the leadership
credibility of the two editors.
The resignations came six weeks
after the New York Times disclosed that Blair had manufactured
facts in a number of his stories, and violated long-standing
journalistic ethics. Blair is accused of reporting
false facts in the Washington-area sniper hunt, and for
plagiarizing stories from other reporters. The
Times published a long list of Blair's inaccuracies.
Bragg (right) accepting a Pulitzer in 1996 for feature
writing and later used freelancers to ferret out stories
while with the NYTimes
Times published a long list of Jason Blair's inaccuracies
while working for the paper
in which the two top editors were pinned down was increased
in late May when another Times reporter, Rick Bragg,
used a freelancer to ferret out a story on oystermen of
the Florida Gulf Coast in Apalachicola, and then told The
Washington Post that it was a common practice at the Times.
in 1851, the New York Times has invested its ethics in appearing
to be the "most credible" paper in the world.
However, the crossfire triggered by Blair and Bragg, severely
wounded the paper's reputation for editorial leadership,
and resulted in the most common of all responses--the chopping
Mr. Boyd, the
newspaper's first African American managing editor, prompted
the New York Association of Black journalists to counterattack.
Its president, Errol Cockfield was reported by the Times
to have said : "There are many black journalists
who are questioning whether, in an effort to restore its
credibility, the Times has gone too far."
Times reporter Blair
is a black reporter, and implications were offered in various
news reports that under affirmative action flex, he was
given far more latitude for a host of errors and mistaken
reporting that would not have been condoned under more rigorous
Times editorial management.
roots of free press alleges to be the people's watchdog
are considered the Fourth Estate, the balance between government,
judicial and executive forces attempting to control our
lives. The roots of the free press burrowed
deep into the humus, alleging to be the people's watchdog,
the Voice of truth against power that tends to corrupt,
a fulcrum that would balance the power by peaceful revolution
of lies and deceits bared, of exposing the viscera of the
truth despite the shadow of the Beast of Terror.
In a nutshell, they were
given the power of a Sentinel of Vigilance, guarding against
the Beast of Political and Government Oppression and Tyranny.
When the freedom of the press is quashed, when its tongue
of truth is split and forked, the people become vulnerable
to the Beast's oppression and tyranny.
Whom can they trust when those
who throw stones live in glass house? When the alleged
"truth paper" is infected with the cancer of the
same corruption it reports, that it is charged to expose,
the loft from which its cannons fire are lowered.
The pure and lily white became the tainted.
What difference is there between
the Administration alleging Weapons of Mass Destruction
in Iraq to justify a war, and the New York Times allowing
at least one or two reporters, and perhaps more yet not
uncovered, to manufacture facts and distort truths?
Suddenly, parity is ugly.
White Knight's defects turned him into a Black Knight
The White Knight
is found to have blemishes, foibles, defects of character
not unlike those shadows he stalks with his reportorial
The New York Times, in firing its
two top editors, has tried to shine its Armor of Vigilance.
It has attempted to patch the leak in the dyke.
The world now knows its sheets
are soiled, just as they know Martha Stewart's are, or Hillary
Clinton's, or any of those the great paper tried to reveal
as having blemishes on an otherwise unmarred complexion.
But wiping out two generals
is not necessarily the act of healing open wounds.
Vigilance is not about perfection.
On D-Day, 59 years
ago, many died as a result of mistaken command.
Casualties were expected. Mistakes were expected.
War is not about the planning alone, but about the execution.
a war correspondent, I am aware of the havoc of battle
In the heat
of battle bullets fly in all directions. As
a war correspondent, I am well aware of the havoc of battle.
The two Times editors were appointed in September 2001,
in the midst of battle. Bullets were flying
as they took their leadership positions.
While combat zones
are not an excuse for mismanagement, the harshness of criticism
needs to be tempered by events. The Times,
seeking perfection in its reporting, fell victim to the
reality of Terrorism--it stalks us all.
Event the giants
fall at times.
not perfection. Vigilance is keeping the wary eye
on Terrorism of all sizes and shapes, and when flaws and
faults are found, it means we plug them up. We do
not operate out of Fear, Intimidation or Complacency.
Instead, we muster the Courage, Conviction and take the
Right Actions for the Children's Children's Children to
bolster our Vigilance and to manage the Terrorism of imperfection.
Lopping off the
heads of two top managers of journalistic ethics may not
solve the Times problems. But, it may
clear the battlefield for the moment, and allow the Second
Wave time to assault the beaches.
June 6, 1944 paved the way for other Sentinels of
Vigilance to storm the beaches
the first waves of troops were brutally slaughtered by heavy
enemy fire. Over 10,000 died, paving the way for other
Sentinels of Vigilance to storm the shores and eventually
overrun the enemy.
At the New York
Times the bodies of the two top editors may be simple gangplanks
over which a second wave of editors--post Nine Eleven--will
charge. The blood spilled by the editors
may fertilize a new sense of reporting ethics among New
York Times journalists, and the Swords of Vigilance used
to carve out the truth may be sharpened.
In other words,
the battle might have been lost, but the war still has yet
to be decided.
5--American Effigy of Vigilance Hangs In France
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