This is going to be a curiously perverse column: A defense of The New York Times by the conservative editorial page editor of the Washington Times. As a conservative, Republican political operative for almost two decades in Washington, through the 1980s and 1990s, I grew to loathe the liberal editorials, op/eds and partisan analysis pieces in The New York Times. I resented the powerful effect those articles had on the news judgments of broadcast network news (CBS, ABC, NBC), as well as on the rest of the news businesses around the country and across the world.
But even then, I deeply appreciated the depth, quality and comprehensiveness of The New York Times news reporting. Whether I was writing a speech for President Reagan, or otherwise publicly asserting facts about the news of the day, I was always confident that if I read it in the New York Times, it was as accurate as daily news journalism could make it. I cannot recall ever having that confidence misplaced. There are many good news organizations (and many more bad ones). Other newspapers may surpass The New York Times in some aspects of their coverage. But that statement remains as true today as it was 20 years ago, as it was 50 years ago.
With the advent of the Internet, cable news and niche news services, the amount of available assertions of facts has expanded by several magnitudes. But whether any of those millions of asserted facts that are born every day are true and accurate, one cannot know from these new sources. A benchmark of objective reality remains the province of a limited number of long-tested and proven sources of accuracy. The New York Times has been at the pinnacle of that small group of reliable sources. I hope it remains there, because such a status of reliability cannot be built in a day or a year -- or perhaps even in a generation or two. Such quality is the product not only of sustained, large financial investment, but of a tradition of its employees built up over the decades -- and now over the centuries. It is the imbued news consciences of thousands of Times men and women that has consistently produced such quality. Individuals with a deserved sense of pride that they write for the finest newspaper in the world have, over the centuries, made the extra effort that has produced the news we have all relied on. Once destroyed, it will not soon be replaced. There simply will be a gap in the fabric of objective, comprehensive news sources. Conservatives as well as liberals would be the worse for it.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.