Accuracy in Media

The New York Times has announced a new liberal executive editor, Bill Keller, and a report on the Jayson Blair scandal, and they both seek to perpetuate and expand the liberal diversity program that contributed to the plagiarism and fakery scandal in the first place. But this fact has been obscured by news that the paper intends to implement various reforms and appoint an ombudsman or “public editor.”

Keller apparently hopes people won’t read the 58-page report because he claims in his introductory remarks that the “partisan critics” are “wrong” to charge that the Blair case was “a consequence of our determination to hire and promote a diverse staff.”

In fact, the report concedes that Blair came to the paper “in a program that was then intended to increase news room diversity,” that his elevation to the regular full-time staff had “all the earmarks of a social promotion,” and that the recommendation to move him up came from a committee led by then-managing editor Gerald Boyd, who is black.

At one point, Boyd told Blair, “I don’t know what you’re doing, drugs or what, and I don’t care. The issue is your performance, and unless you change, you are blowing a big opportunity.” But Blair, who didn’t talk to the committee that put together the report because of “health reasons,” kept getting more responsibility and assignments at the Times.

The report states that Jonathan Landman, the metro editor, abandoned his opposition to promoting Blair to a full-time staff position because of the “racial dimension” of the matter and the fact that Blair enjoyed support from Boyd. Landman is quoted as saying, “I think race was the decisive factor in his promotion. I thought then and think now that it was the wrong decision, despite my belief in diversity and my respect for our institutional commitment to it.”

Landman is compelled to affirm his belief in this philosophy because Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger had made it clear before the report was completed that the company would remain committed to diversity. Parroting the company line, the report asserts that “for strong reasons both of journalism and justice,” the Times remains “committed to deploying a diverse news-gathering staff” and that the paper “must not turn from that commitment.”

In one astounding paragraph, the report says that, “The commitment of The Times’ leadership to diversity must be embraced from top to bottom and institutionalized as part of all journalistic conversations.”

This may be why Keller makes the absurd claim that the Blair fraud was “not a consequence of our diversity program,” which he says “has been designed to apply the same rigorous standards of performance we demand of all our staff.” Despite the evidence, the report itself blames the scandal on “deeply flawed structures, attitudes and processes.”

In a candid admission, however, the report says that, “Attempts at diversifying the staff have generated discomfort among employees of both genders and all ages and ethnic backgrounds. Current policies are variously viewed as tinged with favoritism, preferentialism, and discrimination. There must be greater assurance that all are being treated fairly and equally.”

As the old saying goes, this is easier said than done. How will the paper treat people equally and fairly when a diversity program gives special preferences to some?

The report goes so far as to affirm the use of quotas in the hiring of minorities by noting that current representation at the paper of women and minorities “falls short of percentages in the general population.” This is the most extreme form of affirmative action, and it is the policy of the New York Times and the American Society of Newspaper Editors. It diverts attention away from one’s ability to do the job to a person’s race, gender, and even sexual orientation.

The report was put together by 25 Times personnel and three “distinguished outside journalists,” including liberal activist Roger Wilkins, a former senior advisor to Jesse Jackson, who contributed “A Note on Affirmative Action.” Playing the white guilt card, Wilkins refers to the days when “Europeans first set foot on this continent and encountered the people who already lived here.” He argues that affirmative action and diversity programs are still necessary to overcome the days of the “lily-white and all-male” newsrooms.

Keller is, of course, a white male but also a liberal with a documented animus toward conservative Christians. One of his first selections was liberal feminist Jill Abramson as a managing editor. An aspiring white male conservative journalist who opposes affirmative action would be correct to conclude that the Times is not the place for him. That’s how these phony diversity programs work in practice.

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