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Jewish World Review June 19, 2003/ 19 Sivan, 5763

Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder

Jackie & Raul
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All the news unfit to print | In most things in life it is impossible to be both the giver and the receiver. If a ball is thrown, there is a thrower and a catcher. In a holdup, there is a robber and the guy with his hands in the air. But the New York Times has managed to be both perpetrator and the victim — a victim who blames the perpetrator, who is the same person as the victim.

With all of this happening, the sales of the Times did not suffer, nor did they lose any advertising. In fact, they were able to cut out the middle man in all of this coming and going. They not only made the news, but they reported on it and, in fact, for the most part, gave themselves an exclusive without ever having to leave their desks or even make a telephone call. It turned out to be like a play, with one guy playing all the roles. The rest of the press was relegated to merely reporting the story when the Times itself was the story. Talk about phony reporting — the Times was not only the story but it created the spin on the story, so that all of the other media had only second hand reporting.

The Times, because of an affirmative action policy taken to absurd extremes, hired and nourished Jayson Blair, a reporter who was not only guilty of plagiary but who, in many cases, simply made up the news. He was not so dumb. He figured out a way to get an exclusive story and never have to leave his apartment in Brooklyn. The Times' reckless pursuit of a policy of affirmative action cloaked him with protection from all the scrutiny to which a reporter is usually subjected. Maybe at the Times they call it something else, but affirmative action is what it was. It was like when the media accused Mayor Bloomberg of forcing the police to meet ticket quotas, and he angrily denied the charges. He said they certainly did not have quotas to meet, they merely had "performance goals". It was no particular source of comfort to the cops that the tickets they were forced to write were to meet "performance goals" rather than quotas.

Lets get real. Howell Raines, Executive Editor of the New York Times, admitted that in hiring and supervising Blair, he acted "as a white man from Alabama." What does that mean? If he acted "as a white man from Alabama" 150 years ago, Blair would have been his slave. Maybe a hundred years from now if he would act "as a white man from Alabama" he would be Blair's slave. The point being that whether he acted "as a white man from Alabama" or an Albino from Pittsburgh, today it should not have affected his behavior and responsibility as Chief Executive of the world's leading newspaper. It should also be noted that the American Society of Newspaper Editors is now asking newspapers to have 38% employees from minorities by the year 2025. This sounds great if there are 38% capable people looking around for newspaper jobs by 2025. Maybe there should be 90% minorities, maybe 10%, and maybe people should just be hired or fired because of their performance and ability — or maybe that the Albino from Pittsburgh should be hired because the supply of them is limited.

There is no question that the Times' was the perpetrator of what occurred. It was their mismanagement policies that were directly responsible for the Blair fiasco. But the Times also played the victim. Media all over the world reported on how the Times (now the victim) was misled and deceived by Blair. After his resignation, the Times (the victim) acted promptly to straighten out the perpetrator (the Times) and deal with those management people who were responsible.

After Blair resigned, at a "town hall" meeting on May 14th, the present publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. informed the entire staff that he would not accept Howell Raines', the Editor-in-Chief's, resignation even if it were offered. True to the tradition of accurate reporting, Mr. Raines then offered his resignation which, of course, Mr. Sulzberger promptly accepted. At the same time, Raines' second in command managing editor, Gerald M. Boyd, also resigned. Boyd is a black man, and no sooner did he resign then the Association of Black Journalists, through its president, Errol Cockfield, said, "There are many black journalists who are questioning whether, in an effort to restore its credibility, The Times has gone too far." Their clear point is that the Times pushed out Mr. Blair and Boyd because of their race. The unworthy thought crosses our mind that Blair and Boyd were just as black when the Times hired them, as when they got rid of them.

The Times' real underlying problem is in their hiring practices. We have a solution. Since the people they hired to report the news were actually writing fiction, they should have hired a real fiction writer — Hillary Clinton. Also, with her they would not have to worry about any plagiarism being revealed. Virtually all celebrity biographies that have a professional writer involved, state, "As told to" or "In collaboration with," or something of that nature. Even politicians are not low enough to not credit the person who worked on the book. But not Hillary. She obviously got some poor sap who needed the money bad enough, or whose ego was beat down, to work on the book without any name credit. Since the writer never claimed authorship, he can't claim plagiarism.

If people thought Jayson Blair was so full of himself that he cared little about the people he hurt, he could take lessons from Hillary. In her book "Living History," she related about when Clinton admitted to her he lied about Monica — putting aside the fact that everybody from the guard at the gate to the steward in the White House kitchen knew what was going on — in her book she said, "What do you mean? What are you saying? Why did you lie to me?" Never mind that he lied to the whole country, that the government was in a constitutional crisis and was virtually at a stand-still, and tens of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money had been spent on the various legislative and judicial processes set in motion by Clinton's lying. The only question that bothered Hillary is "Why did you lie to me?" The funny thing is that when a man cheats on his wife, the only one he has a right to lie to is his wife. Why should he care if the boys at the bowling alley or a hotel room clerk knows he's a tom cat.

It is clear that both Hillary and the Times were in the business of telling lies. The only difference was the Times cost you $1.00 for a copy and Hillary's lies were for free. Now you have to pay $28 to buy the book and read about it.

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© 2003, Jackie Mason & Raul Felder. A version of this column appeared at The American Prowler.