Unfortunately, as we all know, the truth is something the Times has been having some difficulty with for some time, as evidenced by the longstanding support they gave Judith Miller for misinforming the public on WMDs and nonexistent threats that helped take us to war.
Ms. Greenhouse delivered her speech as the 2006 Radcliffe Institute Medalist.
I'm not a person who bursts into tears at the drop of a hat, and I was truly surprised. I cried throughout the entire second half of the concert. I couldn't stop. It was a puzzling and disconcerting experience, and I worked hard in the ensuing days to figure it out. Finally, it came to me. Thinking back to my college days in those troubled and tumultuous late 1960's, there were many things that divided my generation. For the men in particular, of course, it was what stance to take toward the draft--acquiescence, artful avoidance, or active resistance. For many of us, it was over how actively we should commit ourselves to the great causes of civil rights and the antiwar movement. (The women's movement was barely on the horizon at that point.) I remember that in the spring of 1968, the editors of the Harvard Crimson almost came to blows over whether the paper should support Eugene McCarthy or Robert Kennedy for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Yet despite all these controversies, we were absolutely united in one conviction: the belief that in future decades, if the world lasted that long, when our turn came to run the country, we wouldn't make the same mistakes. Our generation would do a better job. I cried that night in the Simon and Garfunkel concert out of the realization that my faith had been misplaced. We were not doing a better job. We had not learned from the old mistakes. Our generation had not proved to be the solution. We were the problem.
And then Ms. Greenhouse spoke the dangerous words that the New York Times seems to find worse than lies about WMDs.
And of course my little crying jag occurred before we knew the worst of it, before it was clear the extent to which our government had turned its energy and attention away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and other places around the world. And let's not forget the sustained assault on women's reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism. To say that these last years have been dispiriting is an understatement. I hope that today's undergraduates are taking the same vow that we did then, and I hope for all our sakes that they get closer to fulfilling it than we did.
Byron Calame, the New York Times so called Public Editor, in his editorial titled "Hazarding Personal Opinions in Public Can Be Hazardous for Journalists" wrote:
The Times's ethical guideline states that news staffers appearing on radio or television "should avoid expressing views that go beyond what they would be allowed to say in the paper." It is obvious, I think, that the guideline also applies to other venues. And Bill Keller, the executive editor, made clear in an e-mail message to me that the standard applies to all Times journalists "when they speak in public."
But what if the journalist is simply telling an unpleasant truth?
If expressing opinions was really the editors' concern, why was Judith Miller a "hero" at the Times for such a long period of time after publishing Bush administration propaganda that turned out to be lies? The Times finally distanced themselves from Ms. Miller after it was too embarrassing to continue to call Ms. Miller a journalist.
Ms. Greenhouse words are apparently far more "dangerous" to Times' editors. For they are the truth. "(O)ur government had (INDEED) turned its energy and attention away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and other places around the world." There is INDEED a "sustained assault on women's reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism".
Those are plain facts to any reasonable thinking person, except apparently to Bill Keller and Byron Calame.