The Boston Herald‘s Jules Crittenden has an excellent column on Byron Calame’s admission that the New York Times should not have run the Swift story. Crittenden’s column, while perhaps a touch over-optimistic, shows an admirable sense of the importance of Calame’s column:
What do you call it when the ombudsman of the New York Times admits he made a mistake?
A good start.
New York Times ombudsman Byron Calame has initiated what we can only hope will be a trend in America’s holier-than-thou media — that overwhelming and influential part of our nation’s news business that feigns objectivity, fairness and interest in our national well-being while relentlessly pursuing partisan and destructively anti-American agendas.
Crittenden is not full of unbridled praise for Calame. He notes the diffidence of Calame’s mea culpa, as well as the criticism of Calame by bloggers:
Calame’s mea culpa has a bit of the dog-ate-my-homework about it. As blogger Don Surber noted, Calame blamed his opinion in part for his sympathy with the “underdog” — the New York Times — under the onslaught of vociferous reaction from the Bush administration to its reporting. On what planet the New York Times is underdog, I don’t know. And perhaps it was nagging embarrassment at his own excess enthusiasm for unwarranted victimhood that prompted Calame’s about-face. But that’s beside the point.
There has been at least one outraged and well-principled call for Calame’s resignation, at the prominent conservative blog www.patterico.com.
As an aside, I appreciate Mr. Crittenden’s description of my call for Calame’s resignation as “principled.” However, I chuckled at Mr. Crittenden’s description of this blog as “prominent.” Doesn’t he read Think Progress? Just last month, they said I am “obscure” — and we all know that if Think Progress said it, it must be true.
Maybe I have risen to prominence from obscurity in little over one month. (And Glenn Greenwald thought it was impressive to do so in nine! I bid you Good DAY, sir!)
Anyway. While acknowledging my call for Calame to resign, Crittenden appears to have high hopes for what Calame could do if he stayed:
But not so fast, Byron. Your work is not done. You may yet redeem yourself.
Prior to exiting, Byron, you may consider launching a soul-searching campaign at the New York Times. I’d encourage a look at the decision to report on the National Security Agency’s warrantless electronic monitoring of emails and phone calls between the United States and suspect individual[s] overseas. The outrage your paper and others stirred up over a program that falls well within the law and harms no law-abiding American citizen, and the notice you served to terrorists and their supporters of its existence, constitute aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war.
Crittenden continues with a lofty vision for Calame’s taking on the breadth of the New York Times‘s misleading campaign of distortion against President Bush. He concludes:
[W]ith Byron Calame’s remarkable admission, we see what could be the beginnings of an awakening. I’m not holding my breath. But I’m an optimist. And I think I just saw a hairline crack in the arrogance of one of America’s most powerful media institutions.
I applaud Mr. Crittenden’s optimism — but as a realist, let me be the one to say: it’s not going to happen. Not with Byron Calame.
Somewhere out there, there may be a public editor who is really willing to take on his paper. Dan Okrent had the seeds of that spirit. But I’m not holding out much hope for Byron Calame, who buried his milquetoast change of heart halfway down a column about magazine journalism and perfume critics.
But hey, Mr. Crittenden, it’s a nice column you wrote anyway. Take it from this
prominent obscure blogger!